History Timeline 1770s

Photo above: Betsy Ross sewing the first American flag in Philadelphia. Courtesy National Archives. Right: Lithograph of the Boston Tea Party. Courtesy Library of Congress.

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U.S. Timeline - The 1770s

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  • 1771 Detail

    September 8, 1771 - The Mission San Gabriel in San Gabriel, California is founded by Fathers Pedro Cambon and Angel Somera, closing the gap between the established missions at Monterey and San Diego, and the new mission at San Antonio de Padua, also founded earlier in the year. Due to its large production of crops and wines, the mission later became known as the "Pride of the Missions."

    San Gabriel Mission

    Mission San Gabriel would be the fourth of the Spanish Catholic missions in Alta California, founded on "the Feast of the Birth of Mary." The first mission had been built at Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala in 1769. The second in Monterey. They were, however, far apart from Mission San Gabriel, one hundred and twenty-five miles (San Diego) and three hundred and twenty-five miles away (Monterey). It was the goal of the Franciscans to have a mission no more than one day's horse travel, thirty miles, and three day foot travel, from each other. To accomplish that goal, they began work on two new missions, San Gabriel and San Antonio de Padua, which had been completed on July 14, 1771, but was also in the vicinity of Monterey, in Monterey County at Jolon.

    The San Gabriel Mission would initially fill in those gaps. It would be founded by Fray Angel Francisico de Somera and Fray Pedro Benito Cambon, built in Moorish architecture by architect Antonio Cruzado of Cordoba, Spain, and initially be located along the Rio Hondo. It did not last long. A flash flood destroyed the complex five years later; it would be subsequently moved to its present site in San Gabriel. Legend states that the native Tongva were not pleased with the potential building until the priests showed them the painting "Our Lady of Sorrows." After that, they made peace because of the beauty of the canvas. Today that painting, three hundred years old, hangs in the sanctuary of the mission.

    San Gabriel Mission would become the most prolific of the twenty-one eventual missions, baptising over twenty-five thousand people through 1834. They existed through farming, done by the Tongvas, after undergoing instruction at the misson's manual training school, teaching them the Spanish way of agriculture, the mechanical arts, and raising livestock.

    The Wrightwood earthquake on December 8, 1812, damaged the original three bell belltower. It was replaced by the current six bell structure. After the mission became secularized in 1834, it fell into ruins. It became a parish church from 1862 to 1908.

    Chronology of the Twenty-One Missions

    1. Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala, July 16, 1769, San Diego.

    2. Mission San Carlos Borromeo del rio Carmelo, June 3, 1770, original location Tano near Monterey, moved to Carmel May 1771.

    3. San Antonio de Padua, July 14, 1771, Jolon.

    4. Mission San Gabriel, September 8, 1771, San Gabriel.

    5. San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, September 1, 1772, San Luis Obispo.

    6. Mission San Francisco de Asis, or Mission Dolores, June 26/29, 1776, San Francisco.

    7. Mission San Juan Capistrano, November 1, 1776.

    8. Santa Clara de Asis, January 12, 1777, Santa Clara.

    9. Mission San Buenaventura, March 31, 1782, Ventura.

    10. Mission Santa Barbara, December 4, 1786, Santa Barbara.

    11. Mission La Purisima Concepcion, December 8, 1787, Lompoc, Santa Barbara County.

    12. Mission Santa Cruz, August 28, 1791, Santa Cruz.

    13. Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad, October 9, 1791, Soledad.

    14. Mission San Jose, June 11, 1797, San Jose.

    15. Mission San Juan Bautista, June 24, 1797, San Juan Bautista.

    16. Mission San Miguel, July 25, 1797, San Miguel.

    17. Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana, September 8, 1797, Mission Hills, Los Angeles.

    18. Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, June 13, 1798, San Luis Rey.

    19. Mission Santa Ines (Santa Ynez), September 17, 1804, Solvang.

    20. Mission San Rafael, December 14, 1817 (as sub-mission), October 19, 1822 as full mission, San Rafael.

    21. Mission San Francisco Solano (only mission established after Mexican independence from Spain), July 4, 1823, Sonoma.

    Mexican Secularization Act 1833

    The Franciscan mission era essentially was over after the Mexican Secularization Act was passed on August 17, 1833. Twelve years after Mexican independence and fearful of the Franciscan church ties to old mother Spain, they began dismantling the mission system, exchanging it for a land grant based system of ranchos. Mission San Gabriel was sold to settlers with funds used to pay off the governor's debt, then returned to the Franciscans in 1834.

    Image above: Lithograph of San Gabriel Mission, 1895, Louis K. Harlow, Prang and Company. Courtey Library of Congress. Image below: Stereograph of San Gabriel Mission, 1909, Stereo-Travel Company. Courtesy Library of Congress. Info Source: Wikipedia Commons; Californiamissionguide.com.

    San Gabriel Mission

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