Jose Mission 14th
Mission of the
California Mission Chain Founded June 11, 1797 by Father
Fermin Francisco de Lasuen
Naming of Mission:
Some accounts say the name
of the mission was "Mission San Jose de Guadalupe." But at
its founding, the official name was "La Mision del Gloriosisimo
Patriarch San Jose." This was in honor of the mission's patron,
St. Joseph. The records all list it as Mission San Jose. Joseph was
the foster father of Christ, Saint Joseph.
in Fremont east of San
Though the El Camino Real
had become a busy road, both north and south, there were still many
stretches of lonely road where travelers could find trouble, either
from nature or from hostilities. Both the new governor and Father
Lasuen felt the chain needed to be completed to assist these
travelers. They hoped to build five additional missions. San Jose
was the first of these, founded 1 June 1797.
The mission got off to a
slow start with only 30 local Indians coming in the first year, but
very gradually more and more local Indians came to the mission for
assistance, training and spiritual insight. The local natives were
the Ohlone Indians. Their village at this site was known as Orisom.
The area was rich in natural resources and was a center for both
agriculture and industry. Father. Buenaventura Fortuni and Father
Narcisco Duran came to Mission San Jose in 1806. Father Duran was a
musician. He organized and trained an orchestra of 30 Indian
musicians, playing flute, violin, trumpet, and drums. The orchestra
played for fiestas and weddings. On feast days, Indians came all the
way from Santa Clara and Dolores to hear the Indian orchestra. Both
men worked together to help the Indians. Many of the Indians came to
live at the mission and were taught new skills and trained to do
other types of work than they had done for centuries.
In 1805 a new adobe church
was started. It was finished and dedicated on April 22, 1809. It was
a simple, solid building with walls 8 feet thick in some places. The
residents of the Bay area gave generously to the mission which had
many beautiful paintings and other decorations. By 1816, the mission
was prospering. Their cattle herd had grown from just 500 head to
over 350,000, the largest in the chain. They were able to produce so
many good that they traded with people from all over. They even
bought a boat to move their goods across the bay to trade with
outgoing ships. The quadrangle was finally completed in 1827 with
each side being 900 feet long!
When secularization came
in 1834, Jose de Jesus Vallejo was appointed civil administrator and
the mission lands were divided into ranchos. The Indians left but
weren't able to function as they had before the mission era. Many
died of disease or just plain starvation because they could not fend
for themselves. The mission along with its gardens, orchards and
other areas deteriorated and the herds were dispersed.
In the late 1840's, during
the Gold Rush times, H.C. Smith transformed the mission into a hotel
of sorts and a general store. It was known as a gateway to the
southern goldmines. By 1858, some of the lands were returned to the
Catholic Church. When a large earthquake in the area hit on 21
October 1868, the mission church was gravely damaged. The roof broke
open as the walls shattered. The site had to be cleared and later, a
wooden church was built over the original tile floor. By 1890, a
victorian rectory was built over another portion of the site. Though
the initial complex had over 100 buildings, few were left. In both
1915 and in 1950, groups sought to save any surviving portions of
the mission and converted them into a museum. In 1973, plans were
begun to truly re-construct the mission and grounds. The Victorian
Recotry was moved to Anza Street and the Gothic wooden church was
also moved. It went to San Mateo to be used as a church of another
faith. Finally, in 1982, construction began. The builders had worked
hard to plan for a replica of the 1809 adobe church. Old building
methods were used as much as possible. Nail heads were flattened to
simulate the square headed nails used in the original construction.
Under the roof, branches were tied together with rawhide strips.
On 11 June 1985, it was dedicated. The interior was decorated as
historical documents describe it. The walls are very thick and the
lumber has a hand-hewn look, just as in the original building.
During restoration, the grave marker of Robert Livermore was located
in the original tile floor of the church along with many other
prominent people of the time. His is the only marker preserved.
Three of the original bells which had hung in the wooden church of
1869 were returned and a fourth bell was recast after being broken
in the 1868 earthquake. It was then used in an Oakland church and
returned to the re-constructed bell tower when it was completed.
Contact the Mission:
Old Mission San
Jose Mailing address: P.O. Box 3159 Fremont, California
94539 Location address: 43300 Mission Blvd at Washington
Blvd Fremont California 94539 Phone: (510) 657-1979.
This is the only mission
on the east side of San Francisco Bay
The city of San Jose and
Mission San Jose are only connected by being named for the same
saint, St. Joseph.
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last updated on 28 June 2012 at 10:12 pm
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