History of San Miguel Mission

(Saint Michael) The sixteenth Franciscan mission established in California. The site chosen was at a place called by the natives Vahia, in the upper Salinas valley, between San Antonio and San Luis Obispo, in the north part of the present San Luis Obispo County. Taylor (Cal. Farmer, Apr. 27, 1860) says the name of the rancheria at the site of the mission was Chulam, or Chalomi. At this place Fr. Lasuen, on July 25, 1797, “in the presence of a great multitude of gentiles of both sexes and of all ages,” formally founded the mission. The natives were very friendly, and 15 children Were offered for baptism the sane day. The mission grew rapidly in population and wealth. By 1800 there were 362 neophytes, and 973 in 1810, while the greatest number, 1,076, was reached in 1814. At the end of the first three years the mission had 372 horses and cattle, and 1,582 small stock, while the crops for that year (1800) were 1,900 bushels. In 1810 there were 5,281 cattle and horses, 11,160 small stock, with an average crop for the preceding decade of 3,468 bushels. During the next decade the stock increased considerably, but the crops began and continued to decline. In 1806 the mission lost a number of its buildings and a large quantity of supplies by fire, but the roof only of the church was injured. Shortly after 1818 a new church was completed. In 1828 the mission lands were reported as extending from the ocean to Tulare lake. In 1834 there were 599 neophytes. Up to this time the total number of natives baptized was 2,562, of whom 1,277 were children. The mission was secularized in 1836, and was generally prosperous until 1840, as its ranches and vine-yards had not been granted to private individuals. The Indians lived at the mission and on the ranches, and in 1840 still numbered 350. In 1844, however, San Miguel was reported as without lands or cattle, while its neophytes were demoralized and scattered for want of a minister. The mission was sold in 1845, but the purchase was later declared invalid. The church and monastery were preserved and are still in use. The church is particularly interesting because of the interior decorations, which have been practically undisturbed since the days of the first padres. The Indians of this mission belonged to the Salinan linguistic family, though among the neophytes were many, probably Yokuts, from San Joaquin valley, with whom the natives around the mission are said to have been on intimate terms

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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