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April 7, 1861: Mission Santa Ines

April 7, 2011

santa ines altar

Altar, Mission Santa Ines; by 1600 Squirrels, on Flickr

Camp 22

[This] morning Guirado and I rode to the Mission. Here was quite a town in former times, but, like the rest of the missions, it is in ruins now. A large, old church stands, but there were scarcely more than a dozen persons—two or three Californians, and a few groups of Indians—kneeling in the vast church. It looked desolate and lonely. The church was highly painted, pictures hung on the walls, but all was dilapidated. The bells were of sweet tone—we could hear them at our camp.

light as a feather

Statuary, Mission Santa Ines; by 1600 Squirrels, on Flickr

Alongside of the church is a college, which once had a hundred or more students. It now has but eleven, three of whom are Guirado’s brothers. The place is in complete ruins. Not over half a dozen houses are inhabited, the rest going to ruin. Some are roofless, and the adobe walls are crumbling with every rain; some, mere banks of dirt or clay, the abode of great numbers of ground squirrels that burrow in the ruins. The old corral is torn down in places, the old threshing floor broken in—all in decay. Long lines of water courses, sanchas or small aqueducts, some of them miles in length, laid in stone and cement, to supply the town and irrigate the fields, are now dry and broken. The vineyards are all gone, now dry pastures, and the olive and pear trees are dead. No town is growing up in its stead. A fine cement reservoir and a mill alongside are in ruins. It is the same story that I have written before of other missions.

Here, in this county, is a great field for missionary labor—not a single Protestant church or congregation in the county, not even a mission station, the prestige of the Roman church failing, the padres’ power lost, a race growing up more wicked, desperate, immoral than any that has gone before. The religious destitution and moral state of the county (Santa Barbara) is not easy to describe. It is the most Spanish, or Mexican, in its character and inhabitants of all counties in the United States.

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