I spent two months in one of my favorite places in the United States … Central California where the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) runs right through town. Of course, it happens to be my oldest daughter’s, son-in-law’s and grandkid’s home and I went out for graduation and birthdays. It‘s not only a beautiful part of the world, but it is also the home of one of my favorite missions on the El Camino Real (King’s Highway) … Mission La Purisima Concepcion.
Although it was founded in December of 1787 and is located a little distance from the El Camino Real, it’s in my kid’s back yard, literally. As a matter of fact, all of my grandchildren who went to school there actually could walk to the Mission from their school yards. It’s a wonderful and exciting place in history. I hope when you are finished reading my blog you’ll see why I’d love to write an historical romance on the twenty-one Spanish missions running along the King’s Highway.
I’m going to give you a thirty-second overview of the missions as a whole, and particularly La Purisima.
The Spanish missions comprise of a series of religious outposts established by Spanish Franciscans between 1769 and 1823. The missions gave Spain a valuable toehold in the new frontier along the West Coast and also represented the first major effort by Europeans to colonize the area. I found this of interest, King Charles of Spain issued laws pertaining to the expansion.
The American Indian would be permitted to live in communities of their own.
Indians should be able to choose their own leaders.
No Indian was to be held slave.
No Indian was to live outside his own village.
No Spaniard was to stay in the Indian village for more than three days.
Indians were to be instructed in the Catholic faith.
Each mission was under the direction of two resident Padres, assisted by a small contingent of soldiers. In La Purisima’s case, the Chumash Indians, Padres, and soldiers occupied the Mission concurrently and each respected one another’s position. The Chumash were taught many skills from construction of adobe buildings to herding livestock, growing crops and weaving. Other missions provided much of the seeds and stock; therefore, the mission flourished.
The first Mission La Purisima was destroyed in 1812 by an earthquake, and the mission was moved to its present location. Then the mission period ended, the building were abandoned and fell in disrepair. The buildings and the land left behind were sold at public auction in 1845 for $1,110. In 1874, the United States returned the land to the Catholic Church but the buildings were in such bad condition that the church sold the land, and it was obtained by the State of California.
Restoration began in 1935 and today La Purisima is a State Historic Park where volunteers demonstrate what mission life was like in the early 1800’s.
Now you all, especially the writers, should see the elements of an historical romance developing in my mind. But something else developed during my trip that gives me more reason to continue to research this particular mission. I‘ll tell you about it on my next blog later this month on August 30th.
Have any of you visited a mission and what did you come away with in the way of feelings and thoughts?