Category: Mission Stories


Liberty! Liberty! For a half-century we have done nothing but repeat this word, and one would say that those mouths which pronounce it belong to the heads which are ignorant of its meaning, or rather that it has no meaning; for, if one says: ‘We are free!’ ten others cry out at once: ‘We, we are oppressed!’ Such an one who found, a few years ago, too great a freedom, to-day demands very much more; and this is, doubtless, because each one has his own idea of liberty, and it is impossible to create a liberty for each one. –

The Flight of Padre Peyri

One of the few settlements of the old mission Indians remaining in California is Pala, a little village tucked away amidst some of the most charming scenery to be found in the southern part of the state. It is twenty miles east from Mission San Luis Rey, of which mission it was an asistencia, or branch, and twenty-four miles from Oceanside, the nearest point on the coast. The village stands in a valley which is completely surrounded by mountains, high and low, far and near, uniting with it in a succession of beautiful pictures around the entire horizon. To the


The overland mail-tram from San Francisco, on the way to New Orleans, came to a stop for a minute or two at the little old town of San Gabriel, ten miles east of Los Angeles. It was a hot July afternoon, in the year 1890; the car windows were open, and the passengers were gazing out listlessly at the few signs of animation about the station and town. San Gabriel is a sleepy old place, with little to interest the ordinary person. A traveler, passing through it, sees nothing to attract his notice as the train pauses at the station,

The Indian Sibyl’s Prophecy

In the southern part of the Mojave Desert a low hill stands somewhat apart from the foot-hills beyond, and back of it. Although not more than two hundred feet above the surrounding plateau, on account of its peculiar location, a commanding view may be had from its top. In front, toward the south, and extending all the way from east to west, the plain stretches off for many miles, until it approaches the distant horizon, where it is merged into lofty mountains, forming a tumultuous, serrated sky-line. Midway between the hill and the distant mountains, lie the beds, sharply defined,

Father Zalvidea’s Money

Father Zalvidea was in despair! After having lived for twenty years at Mission San Gabriel, devoting himself all that time to bringing the mission to a condition of so great size and wealth that it took its place at the head of nearly all of the missions of Nueva California, toiling from morning until night with untutored neophytes and striving to hammer something of civilization into their heads – now he was to be removed. He had seen this very thing threatening for many days, but had hoped and prayed that it might not be; he had mustered up boldness

Old Mission Stories of California

Of the last six stories comprising the seven in this little collection of Stories of the Old Missions, all but one have, as a basis, some modicum, larger or smaller, of historical fact, the tale of Juana alone being wholly fanciful, although with an historical background. The first story of the series may be considered as introductory to the mission tales proper.     In these quiet, unpretending stories the writer has attempted to give a faithful picture of life among the Indians and Spaniards in Nueva California during the early days of the past century. The Indian Sibyl’s Prophecy The Flight

La Beata Juana

It was a bright summer morning in the month of June of the year 1798. All was bustle and excitement at the wharf in the harbor of the town of Acapulco, on the western coast of Mexico, for at noon a ship was to sail away for the province of Nueva California, in the far north. This was always an event to attract the attention of the town, partly from its infrequent occurrence, but more especially because, in those days, this northern Mexican province was an almost unknown land to the general mind. The first expedition to the new country,

Father Uria’s Saints

“Therefore I went to Father Uria and told him your story. He was very kind, and bade me write to you that you might trust him to find you something to do if you should decide to come here. Have no fear; there are not enough men at San Buenaventura to prevent a single man from having all the work he may wish. Make haste and come. Do not delay. Diego.” The reader finished the letter, and there was a silence of some minutes between the two, reader and listener. The former, a young man, not much more than twenty-five