A History of Mission San Rafael, Archangel
by Edgar M. (Ted) Sliney
From the Marin County Historical Society Magazine, vol. XV, no. 1, 1989, pp. 4-13.
Before it acquired full mission status, the asistencia San Rafael, Archangel, was a branch of Mission Dolores, San Francisco. In 1822, five years after its establishment, San Rafael, Archangel, gained full mission status and became the twentieth in the chain of Franciscan Missions in Alta California—the penultimate mission and the first to be located north of San Francisco.
Mission Dolores was experiencing an alarming death rate of the neophytes, newly baptized Indians, who lived and worked at the San Francisco mission. A location across the bay was recommended by Lieutenant Gabriel Morago who passed through the area on official visits to Fort Ross. Thus a small group of ailing Indians from the San Francisco Mission was sent to a beautiful valley surrounded with hills studded with oak trees. There the ailing Indians recovered surprisingly well. The delightful location was called Nanaguani by the Miwok Indians. Today we know it as San Rafael.
Fra Sarria brought three of his missionaries to the site—Fra Duran, Fra Arbella and Fra Gil. Fra Gil had a considerable knowledge of medicine and offered to be in charge. When they arrived Fra Sarria had a cross raised in honor of Saint Rafael so that "this most glorious prince, whose name means 'the healing of God', might care for their bodies and souls". The asistencia was named San Rafael, Archangel.
The climate was the main factor for establishing the asistencia, but another factor in the decision was that the location was only about three day's travel from the Russian settlement at Fort Ross. It occurred to the Spanish authorities that the presence of the hospital would establish a Spanish claim to the northern territory. Although it would not serve as a military bulwark it would minimize the value of the Russian claim of sovereignty in the area.
Neophytes who became ill at Mission Dolores were moved across the bay in tule rafts—small craft with the ability to sail up the estero and land near the asistencia.
Fra Prefecto Vicente Sarria conducted the dedication ceremonies on December 14, 1817, the third Sunday in Advent, in the presence of the three other Padres and some neophytes. After the raising of the cross Father Sarria said mass. Later that same day Father Sarria baptized four small Indian boys naming them in honor of the Archangels Raphael, Miguel and Gabriel and the fourth "Francisco", Father Sarria's baptismal name. During the afternoon twenty-two more Indian children were baptized and about two-hundred gentiles received instruction, gentiles being the name given the unbaptized.
Corporal Rafael Garcia and four other soldiers from the Presidio of San Francisco were assigned to the asistencia to protect it from possible attack by hostile Indians.
Juan Garcia, Corporal Rafael Garcia's son, in a newspaper interview in 1917, stated that his father was in charge of construction of the mission building at San Rafael. Juan states that his father was sent by Don Luis Antonio Arguello, the Captain and Commandant of the Presidio. They left from the beach near the Presidio on a raft and landed near McNear's Point. There they were greeted by a group of friendly Indians. The Indians provided them with horses with which to ride to the asistencia where they were greeted by Fra Sarria and the others. The arrival of the small military group, with their polished muskets, had been expected by the Indians and soon close to 5000 Indians had gathered to see the soldiers.
Foundation Day was eight days before Christmas and thanks to the rains the valley spread before them adorned in all its native loveliness. At the lower end of B Street willows covered the area and from this vicinity columns of smoke which darkened the sky rose from the numerous hacales, huts, of the tribe camped there. Hacales were made of branches plastered with mud.
The padres had several adobe huts built for their own shelter in the vicinity of the Old Court House. In later years these adobe structures would be owned by the Short brothers, Orey and John O.B.
That December Fra Sarria recorded the first death at the new asistencia, that of an Indian named Rafael, age twenty-six.
It was not long before two hundred and thirty ailing neophytes were transferred to San Rafael, where they joined another two hundred Indians already under the care and instruction of the padres.
The first adult to be baptized at the asistencia was a young Indian woman named Juana, who was born near the site of the new asistencia. The ceremony occurred on January 13, 1818. The mission register also records the first marriage at San Rafael; that of Jose Maria, a widower of the Rancheria Liluangelia to Maria Josepha of Ranchito Saconchini.
Fra Luis Gil, now in charge, knew some Indian dialect and his skill in surgery and medicine was such that he was able to perform several Caesarean deliveries during his tenure. He also designed and supervised the construction of the adobe church and its adjoining buildings.
The church was eighty-seven feet long and forty-two feet wide, being eighteen feet high with a tile roof. The tiles were made on the site by the Indians from clay obtained from land where the present P.G. & E. Building is. (The tiles for the adobe hacienda built by Timothy Murphy about thirty years later came from the same location.) The small church had no campanile. Its bells were hung from a plain wooden frame in the foreyard to the left of the door as one faced the church. When the buildings were completed, the main complex was in the shape of an L with the church occupying the short wing. The long wing was of one story with a loft for the storage of grain and other produce. It was one-hundred feet long and had a tule roof. In this long wing were the padres' quarters, a justice chamber, a kitchen and sleeping space for the occasional visitors. The tule roof hung out over the veranda, extending the whole length of the building and supported by a row of about fifteen wooden posts.
One writer in describing the church stated that the only distinguishing item was the single "star-shaped window" over the entrance. That window never existed, but was the product of the innovative mind of an artist, Edwin Deakin, who painted the mission in 1899, long after it was gone. That picture has been copied by many later artists who assumed the star window really existed. Deakin's oil painting on canvas is at the Los Angeles County Museum.
There was no attempt to adorn the church as compared with earlier missions to the south. Its floors were of dirt and the windows were only slatted openings because glass was not readily available and was expensive. There were a few wooden benches inside but the walls were unadorned. Perhaps some sort of representation of the stations of the cross adorned the walls but no record of them has appeared.
The altar was more elaborate but of a very simple design. Mission San Rafael Archangel was much plainer than Mission San Jose at Fremont. Mission San Jose has been reconstructed quite well and "from scratch". It is said to surpass even the reconstruction of Mission San Carlos de Boromeo at Carmel.
Close to the mission were some smaller buildings scattered over several acres and housing the workshops and living quarters of the neophyte Indians. The adobes extended from what is now Fifth and Lincoln Streets to Fifth and B Streets and about two blocks up the side of San Rafael Hill. The gardens and orchards were further down toward the tidelands of the bay and along the side of the estero. The land used for growing grain and for pasturing animals extended as far in all directions as there was enough Indian labor to care for it.
When the mission was built, Fra Gil set aside space for a cemetery to the south and rear. It extended to include a portion of the site of the present replica of the mission church and out into what is now Fifth Street and including the site of the present priest's residence. This was the first Christian burial ground in Marin County. Many of the early county residents were buried there including "Chief" Marin in 1834 and his cohort, Quintin. Camilo Ynita, the Indian grantee of the Olampali Rancho, is said to have been buried there in 1856. Indians preferred not to have their graves marked as it was their custom not to recall the dead. As a result, their remains are still buried on the site as only the identifiable remains were moved elsewhere in 1884 when the mission cemetery was removed.
Mission San Rafael had its trouble, but it also grew and prospered. In 1818 two hundred forty neophytes were transferred from Mission Dolores to the new asistencia. Their number increased to 500 by 1820. Fra Gil labored fruitfully during his tenure caring both for the ailing and for the local converts. By 1821 there were almost seven hundred neophytes living at the asistencia or near it. In 1822 the records indicate that the asistencia was given full mission status. The mission had raised 2458 bushels of wheat and had 4000 sheep and several hundred horses. Another report somewhat later states the mission had 2,120 head of cattle. In 1828 the number of persons reported connected to the mission is given as 1,140.
1823 marks the year the Sonoma Mission establishment was begun. This was the twenty first mission and the last one in the mission chain. Ninety-two neophytes from Mission San Rafael were sent to Sonoma.
In addition to its duties to the Indians in the region, Mission San Rafael filled another need as did all the missions in the chain. It acted as a place where the traveller passing through the area could stop overnight and rest before continuing on his journey. Space for the traveller at Mission San Rafael was provided near the kitchen and padres' quarters. As all the missions were spaced about one day's ride, the missions provided ideal respite stops for all who sought them.
The mission lands of San Rafael Archangel extended some nine leagues to the north and extended south covering Corte Madera de presidio and Rinconado de Tiburon. The mission livestock grazed as far north as the Olompali Rancheria including the Canada las Gallinas, Arroyo de San Jose, Novato, Colomache and Eschatamal. Horses grazed as far north as San Antonio Creek. The Laguna of Ocolom belonged to the mission but the natives there were unfriendly and warlike. (Some of these place names are no longer on maps of the region today.)
The various padres made great strides with the Indians by teaching them skills in agriculture and other trades. They taught them to use tools and gave them instructions in making and repairing farm implements as well as tanning, the uses of leather and the building trades.
To help the Indians participate in the church services they taught them music, and four-part harmony with the words in Latin. The Indians sang well without knowing the meaning of the words.
Only a small number of the several thousand natives in the area came to the mission; those who did were housed near the mission and were baptized. They were given Spanish Christian names and sometimes an Indian surname. The Indians were generally pleasant, docile and willing to learn. They had good intuition and native horse-sense.
However, during these early years the white man's diseases were taking their toll on them. Venereal disease and smallpox brought by the white men from the whaling ships were the chief causes of an almost complete annihilation of the Indians.
The asistencia was given full mission status on October 19, 1822 and during that same year Fra Gil was transferred and succeeded by Fra Juan Amoros. About this time Fra Sarria became Presidente of the California missions. With full mission status all the records were transferred to San Rafael. Today, however, only a small part of these original records remain at St. Raphael's in San Rafael. The majority of these documents are kept at the Archdiocese of San Francisco. The Mormon Church in Salt Lake City has microfilmed most of them.
One of Fra Amoros' first duties as head of the Mission San Rafael was to welcome a visiting Mexican envoy and his party of prominent men, including the new Governor Luis Arguello. The party was on its way to visit the Russians at Fort Ross. Mexico had gained independence from Spain that year, and when the official party returned from Fort Ross, Fra Amoros, unlike most of the Franciscan padres, took an oath of allegiance to Mexico.
Fra Amoros was stationed at Mission San Rafael, Archangel, for almost thirteen years and during those years he baptized 1,918 Indians, performed 555 marriages and buried 837 of his parishioners. His jurisdiction covered the area that is now Marin and Sonoma Counties and included some territory in the more northern counties. To Mission San Rafael he added a granary and several workshops. He taught the Indians improved fishing skills and to plant grain and vegetables. He extended the orchard to cover ten acres. He thought little of his own personal comfort—his dinner was only dried corn roasted over coals, however he carried grapes, raisins and figs in the sleeves of his robe for the Indian children.
The Russian traveller, Otto von Kotzebue, visited Mission San Rafael in 1824 and in his writing, "New Voyage", he mentioned how very pleased he was with the location of the mission among the ancient oaks. He regretted that the Russians had not extended their dominion to San Francisco before the mission was founded. He saw the mission at its best.
For awhile it seemed Archangel Rafael had failed his mission. There were seventy deaths in 1825, on an average more than one a week. More neophytes were transferred from Mission Dolores and in 1828 the mission had its largest population of 1,140. The number of livestock tripled but unfortunately at the same time the grain crop dropped to only 333 bushels. But this was a temporary setback for soon 4,713 bushels were being harvested and between 1826 and 1830 the mission contributed the large sum of $1,311 in pesos to the Presidio in San Francisco. But all this progress was not peaceful; serious trouble with the natives occurred during this period. About this time the Indians Marin and Quintin began to terrorize the soldiers stationed at the mission. It was alleged at the time that they had assistance from Chief Marcel of the Cholognes and the Bolognes from the Mount Diablo area, but that does seem to stretch one's credibility. Mt. Diablo is too far removed from San Rafael. "Chief' Marin, later called "El Marinero" by the Mexicans because of his prowess as a sailor, came from a small village called Lacatiut. His followers called him "The Bravest Man in the World" (he dared to climb Mount Tamalpais, the "Sacred Mountain."). He was captured by the Spanish and converted to Christianity, but later became a renegade and led attacks on the soldiers to such a degree that the padres asked the Presidio for more protection. With the soldiers in pursuit, Marin fled to the small island near the Estero de San Rafael de Aguanni, where the Loch Lomond Marina is today. The soldiers did not follow him there but waited at Punta de Quintin, where they finally captured him and imprisoned him at the Presidio in San Francisco for two years.
After his release from prison, Marin became a ferryman on San Francisco Bay using rafts made from oil barrels from whaling ships, held together with beams and planking. This was the common mode of transport on the Bay, not the small reed boats as is commonly depicted in prints. Marin died at Mission San Rafael in 1834, and was buried in the Mission's cemetery.
Quintin, Marin's companion, was almost as good a sailor as Marin. While Quintin was a prisoner, he was used as a skipper of lighters on San Francisco Bay. Later, he became the skipper on General Vallejo's swiftest lighter, making many trips between Sonoma and San Francisco.
The mission was attacked by hostile Indians in 1824. Corporal Garcia shouted, "The Cainameros have come!" He had only four other soldiers to assist in the fight, so he rushed his family and Fra Amoros into a tule boat, trusting their prayers would carry them to safety. The arrived safely at the beach near the Presidio. Garcia returned to the mission, where he fought off the attackers, along with his soldiers and the neophytes.
A shortage of young women available for marriage at Mission Dolores in San Francisco caused difficulties at Mission San Rafael also. In one case, two young men from San Francisco kidnapped the young woman intended for a young man at San Rafael. They escaped from San Rafael with the young woman on a boat, but were followed by her intended and caught. He gave them fifty lashes each with his ox whip.
A more serious incident in the early days of the mission involved a San Rafael Indian named Pomponio, who became a highwayman. He ravaged the country from San Rafael to Santa Cruz, prudently only robbing and murdering other Indians, until one night he killed a Mexican soldier named Manuel Varella. After that incident, the Mexican authorities were determined to catch him. He fled to Marin, where Lieutenant Martinez, a corporal and two other soldiers caught him at Canada de Novato, north of San Rafael. They took him in irons to Monterey, where he was tried on February 6, 1823, and imprisoned. While his guards slept he amputated his own heel to slip out of his shackles and escape. His bloody tracks into the woods led to his recapture, and he was executed by a firing squad.
Regardless of the various conflicts ith some of the Indians, the mission still prospered. In 1832 the San Rafael mission recorded its largest number of livestock, totalling 5,508, a wheat crop of 17,905 bushels, beans of 1,360 bushels, barley yielding nine fold and maize forty. Supplies were shipped from Mission San Rafael to the mission at Sonoma using boats of an ancient design and constructed under the direction of the padres. Monica, an Indian, was captain of the native crew.
During Fra Amoros' tenure Fra Altimira attempted to suppress the mission at San Rafael and Mission Dolores. Fra Amoros opposed him. Altimira had the governor's backing, but the Presidente of the Missions ruled the two missions would continue as founded, and Fra Altimira was rebuked for his assumption of authority he did not have. Fra Amoros continued to increase the neophyte population and to cultivate the fruitful land around the Mission San Rafael. He was a scholar and a skilled artisan. He constructed a water-clock which still worked and kept excellent time some forty years after his death. He died at the mission on July 14, 1832 and was buried in the mission church. Forty-two years later in 1884, when most of the identified bodies were removed to other cemeteries, his remains were reburied.
Fra Tomas Eleuterio Estenaga succeeded Fra Amoros but remained for less than two years before he was sent to San Gabriel. He was succeeded by Fra Jesus Maria Vasquez Marici del Mercado, a Zacatecan.
The Church, in an effort to adjust to secularization, set about replacing the Spanish Franciscan padres with Mexican Franciscan padres. They were known as "Zacatecanos" because they were educated at the College of Our Lady of Guadalupe, near Zacatecas, Mexico. Fra Mercado was the first of the order to be assigned to San Rafael. The historian, H.H. Bancroft, expresses the opinion that the Zacatecans seldom measured up to the Spanish Franciscans, neither intellectually or morally; unfortunately this was substantiated in the case of Mercado.
Mercado was a self-opinionated, loud-mouthed, bullying brute, who soon got into trouble with Commandante Mariono G. Vallejo at the Mission Sonoma by demanding the surrender of a neophyte whom the mission guard had arrested upon Vallejo's order. On another occasion at San Rafael, the corporal of the guard asked for meat for his men, and Mercado replied insultingly, "I do not furnish meat for wolves." Whereupon the corporal proceeded to have a sheep killed, which made Mercado furious.
A few months later, a band of gentiles under Chief Torbidio came to visit the mission. During the night a burglary was committed in the weaving room. Mercado accused fifteen of the visitors of the theft, arrested them and sent them to be held at the Mission Dolores. Then, being afraid the rest of the band might attack him in vengeance, he armed the neophytes and sent them out under the command of Jose Molino, the Major-domo, to attack the gentiles. The action was a success from Mercado's viewpoint: twenty-one Indians were killed, and as many were wounded; twenty were captured, some of these women and children.
When the matter was reported to Governor Figueroa, the governor was indignant, especially as Mercado had asked for reinforcements, supposedly to "pacify' the rancherias. Governor Figueroa sent Mariano Vallejo to restore peace among the aroused natives. Vallejo released the prisoners from Mission Dolores and he freed those who were in bonds at Mission Rafael. He then went among the Indian rancherias to explain how the whole unfortunate episode had happened. He did his best to quiet the angry feeling stirred up by the violent actions of the priest.
The superior of the Zacatecan Franciscans was obliged to summon Mercado to Santa Clara to answer charges of excessive drinking, debauchery and general trouble-making. Mercado was suspended for six months—a mild rebuke.
In the middle of the following year, Mercado returned to Mission San Rafael after two padres had reported on Mercado's behalf that he had nothing to do with the attack, although the two were miles from the scene at the time and had no first-hand information. Later Mercado was assigned to Soledad Mission, considered to be the "end of the line" as far as assignments went.
In 1834 Mission San Rafael Archangel was the first of the mission chain to be secularized. During the seventeen years of its existence, the various padres had baptized 1,873 neophytes. Upon secularization, Mission San Rafael became a parish of the first class, with a curate who was to receive $1,500 annually. At that time the most valuable asset of the mission was the Nicasio Rancho, valued at $7,256. Other assets were recorded as follows: livestock, $4,339; mission buildings and church property, $2,092; the garden and orchards at $768. After all debts were paid, $15,025 remained. With secularization, the mission dwindled to 300 and income from the mission crops fell off. John Bidwell comments that at its peak, the Mission San Rafael produced the best crop of grapes of any mission in California.
With secularization, General Vallejo was appointed administrator of the northern mission properties. Lieutenant Ignacio Martinez, a former Commandante of the Presidio of San Francisco, was appointed as the first local Administrator of the Mission San Rafael on October 1, 1834. Under orders, he drew the boundaries of the new pueblo of San Rafael and distributed four sheep and twelve horses to the adult male natives remaining.
Fra Jose Lorenzo de la Conception Quijas was stationed at Mission San Rafael as Mercado's replacement. Quijas stated that he was born in Ecuador of Indian parents and was proud of his pure Indian blood. He had been a muleteer, a soldier, and, after he was jilted by his lady friend, he abandoned the pack-saddle for the cowl of St. Francis. He attended the College of Our Lady of Guadalupe near Zacatecas, Mexico, and later served at Mission Dolores from 1833 to 1834. Fra Quijas was a large, fine-looking man, with more than ordinary abilities and education. He had a kind heart and was a preacher of some power, with no fear of calling things as he saw them when dealing with misdeed. He was popular when sober, but from about 1836 he began to use strong drink. He made no enemies—in fact, all spoke well of his natural qualities; however several writers mentioned Quijas' drunkenness and his fondness for dancing and debauchery. Even Governor Alvarado, a good judge of character, remarked that Fra Quijas could drink any man in California under the table. Unfortunately, Mercado, Quijas, and several other "black sheep" of the Zacatecan flock came into contact with foreigners often enough to discredit the reputation of all the padres in the eyes of the public.
Lieutenant Ignatio Martinez served as administrator until November 30, 1836, when he was replaced by John Thomas Reed, the first Irishman to settle on the Pacific Coast. Reed was a runaway sailor from the ship Orion—the same English ship deserted by William Antonio Richardson, who settled in Sausalito. Reed ran the first ferry boat on the bay, sailing twice a week from Sausalito to Yerba Buena (San Francisco).
The third and last administrator of the properties of the San Rafael mission was Timothy Murphy from County Wexford, Ireland. Murphy arrived in California by way of Callao, Peru.
Suddenly there was a big change. In 1838, a soldier named Ignacio Miramontes from the Presidio of San Francisco brought smallpox back to the Presidio from a visit to Fort Ross. The disease spread over a large area, killing many people, mostly Indians.
The mission records show that during the last week of August, 1838, William Edward Petty Hartnell, the
appointed Visitador of the California Missions, attempted to visit the missions at San Rafael and Sonoma, but was not allowed to inspect them by General Vallejo. Hartnell was forced to accept Vallejo's prepared report on the two missions.
Fra Quijas and Administrator Murphy liked to socialize. At one time, about 1841, they rode together north to Fort Ross for a visit with the Russians, without obtaining the necessary permission from General Vallejo. When Vallejo received word of the visit, he sent some of his soldiers to arrest them as they returned to San Rafael on a very rainy night. Although they asked to wait until morning, they were forced to ride to Sonoma that same night. Upon their arrival, they were put in the juzgado for a few days to repent their transgression. Timothy did not mind too much, but Fra Quijas was really riled—he evidently did not care for General Vallejo.
During the 1830s and even more so in the 1840s and 50s, Mission San Rafael, as it was still called, was the scene of many meriendes (picnics) for those pleasure seekers from San Francisco and Mission Dolores.
Only fifty Indians were living near the old mission in 1840, and in 1841 Eugene de Mofras from the French Embassy in Mexico City found San Rafael a sad place. He reported he saw only twenty Indians, and they were growing tobacco for their cigarettos. However, that same year, U.S. Navy Lieutenant Charles Wilkes and other members of the United States Exploring Expedition, on a tour of the world, were highly entertained on October 24th, the feast of Saint Rafael, by major-domo Timothy Murphy, at a fiesta which included a bullfight in the afternoon and an evening dance at the old mission. Don Timoteo Murphy continued to serve as administrator of the mission until about 1842, when most of the Indians had left. Murphy then made an inventory and an appraisal, signed it and submitted it to Governor Pio Pico, who approved it with his own signature.
Fra Quijas was transferred to Mission San Jose on June 4, 1843, and his replacement at San Rafael was Fra Jose Real. The exact dates of the arrivals and departures in these years are difficult to find. Fra Jose Real was replaced by Fra Prudenico Santillan about 1845 and Fra Santillan by Fra Paulino Romani in 1849. Fra Santillan is mentioned as the padre in charge of both the ex-missions of San Francisco and Sonoma while he was living in San Rafael. In 1844, Governor Pico ordered all the Indians from the old mission at San Rafael to return, and when they did not comply, he declared the mission "without an owner" and sold it to his brother, Antonio Maria Pico, and to his friend, Antonio Sernol, for 8,000 pesos on October 28, 1844. The two in turn deeded it to some San Francisco men who were denied possession by the U.S. Land Commission, stating that the transaction was invalid, as the sale by Governor Pico was improper.
Before Governor Pico's aborted sale of the mission, General Vallejo had removed most of the livestock to his ranch in Sonoma. He also removed an estimated 2000 San Rafael mission grapevines and transplanted them at his Petaluma rancho.
In 1855, the ex-mission and 6.48 acres on which it sat was given to the Diocese of San Francisco by a special decree of the President of the United States, James Polk. Very few records exist for the years 1840 to 1855. It is difficult to determine if services were held at the mission church. In 1855 the mission church was replaced by a small chapel.
On June 26, 1846, Captain John Charles Fremont, U.S. Army, during the period of the Bear Flag Revolt, occupied the mission church and adjoining buildings, along with twenty-six of his soldiers and followers. Some of his "troopers" complained that the rooms of the old mission were dilapidated, with well-worn tule reeds for a roof. However, the room below the grain loft had wooden ceilings. The soldiers must have slept in the loft.
Two days after his arrival at the mission on June 28th, Fremont ordered the inane murders of Don Jose de las Reyes Berryessa and his twin twenty-year-old nephews, Francisco and Ramon de Haro. Fremont, walking down the tule-roofed corridor of the old mission, saw the three men step ashore from a rowboat at a nearby landing, leave their saddles near the boat, and walk toward the mission. Fremont then sent Kit Carson, Granville P. Swift and John Neal to meet the new arrivals. Carson returned to report the men were "Californians" on their way to Sonoma and they wished to obtain horses. Carson asked Fremont, "Shall I take them prisoners?" "I have no room for prisoners, do your duty," replied Fremont. So Kit Carson and his two cohorts returned to the landing and shot down the three men in cold blood.
There was much consternation when it was discovered that the murdered men were Don Berryessa, an important rancho owner, and that the de Haro twins were the sons of the Alcade of Yerba Buena. Fremont tried to lie his way out of his responsibility in the incident, but some years later, when he ran for Governor of California, he got very few votes in Northern California. His thoughtless act remained a bad blight on his reputation.
After the war between the United States and Mexico, peace was declared on January 13, 1847, and the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed on February 2nd near Mexico City.
In the early 1850s Timothy Murphy took the remaining mission Indians to live near his ranch at a place they called Tinicasia, near Nicasio. Tinicasia was given to the Indians by Vallejo, who conveniently did not file their claim at Monterey. For this reason the U.S. Land Commission refused to honor their claim.
At the former mission site, the judge's chamber and the padre's quarters survived the longest, but in 1855 the buildings were abandoned and a small chapel was built by the Diocese of San Francisco near the ruins. The diocese sold the ruins to James Byers, a carpenter, in 1861, and he tore down all that was left, to salvage the valuable hand-hewn beams. During this time the orchard and vineyard were sometimes used as a campground by gypsies.
A larger wooden chapel in the Spanish style replaced the small chapel in 1869. The old cemetery was used for some time after the old mission church was abandoned, but most of the graves were badly neglected. The grounds became a tangle of weeds and underbrush. In July 1884 the tangle was carefully cleared away under the direction of Father Hugh Lagan, pastor of St. Raphael's Church. The bodies with identifiable head-stones were removed and reburied at Bolinas, but most were reburied at Mount Olivet Cemetery, two and one-half miles north of downtown San Rafael. The land for the cemetery was deeded on March 6, 1880 for the sum of one dollar, U.S. currency, by John Lucas and his wife, Maria (Sweetman) to Archbishop Joseph Alemany of the Diocese of San Francisco for the specific use as a Roman Catholic cemetery. This was a portion of the land grant Don Timoteo Murphy had received from Governor Micheltorena. Upon his death in 1853, Murphy willed it to his nephew, John Lucas.
The Spanish-style wooden church, built in 1869, burned down on Sunday, January 11th, 1919, and the cornerstone for the present church was laid on St. Rafael's Day, Saturday, October 25, 1919.
A replica of the original mission church was built in 1949 with the help of an $85,000 grant provided by the Hearst Foundation. The work on the replica began on May 22, 1949 from plans prepared by Arnold Constable of Sausalito, an architect specializing in church building design. The replica could not be situated on the same spot as the original mission chapel because of the existing buildings and for the same reason, it was necessary to have the replica face west instead of east, the mission's original orientation. It is not an exact replica of the old Mission San Rafael, Archangel, for the reasons above and also due to the fact that no known photos or drawings exist of the original, but it does have some of the flavor. It was formally dedicated on December 18, 1949 by Archbishop John J. Mitty of San Francisco.
Copyright Reserved by Author
1. 1880 History of Marin, Munro-Fraser.
2 The Penultimate Mission, Msgr. Francis J. Weber.
3. Lucretia Hanson Little files, Mill Valley Public Library History Room.
4. 1851 Black's U.S. Government Survey, Bancroft Library, Berkeley.
5. The Spanish and Mexican Adobes and Other Buildings in the Nine San Francisco Bay Counties, 1776 to circa 1850, Section on Marin County, unpublished manuscript, Bowman J.N., Bancroft Library, Berkeley.