By David Kier
Co-author of ‘The Old Missions of Baja & Alta California, 1697-1834’
Collecting books on Baja California has been a lifelong hobby. Somehow, it seemed natural to learn about the history of ‘Old California’ (Baja California). Seeing the historic sites inspired me to learn more and write about them, hopefully to increase awareness and help to preserve them. While doing research on the missions I would often come across more than one version of an event. When information on the missions conflicted, I would research further, going back to the actual sources of history where possible. Books containing the writings of the missionaries, along with examining the mission sites, are good ways of discovering their history. With improved data, the students and fans of California and Baja California history can better understand the way events unfolded.
The books I have used for my writings are grouped into 4 sections, based on when and who wrote them:
1) Missionary letters and reports 1700’s (with years they were on the peninsula, if not in the title)
Baegert, Jacob. Observations in Lower California. (1751-1768)
Balthasar, Juan Antonio. Reports of 1743, 1744*
Barco, Miguel del. Ethnology and Liguistics of Baja California. (1737-1768)
Guillén, Clemente. Reports of 1725, 1737*; Clemente Guillén Explorer of the South. (1714-1748)
Hostell, Lambart. Reports of 1748, 1750*
Linck, Wenceslaus. Wenceslaus Linck’s Reports and Letters. (1762-1768);
Wenceslaus Linck’s Diary of his 1766 Expedition to Northern Baja California.
Neumayer, Karl. Report of 1762* Píccolo, Francisco María. Reports of 1716, 1721*
Sales, Luis. Observations on California 1772-1790.
Serra, Junipero. On the Road to San Diego: Junípero Serra’s Baja California Diary. (1768-1769)
Sistiaga, Sebastián de. Reports of 1743, 1744*
Tamaral, Nicolás. Reports of 1730*
Tirsch, Ignacio. The Drawings of Ignacio Tirsch. (1762-1768) (* Reports published in ‘Jesuit Relations, Baja California 1716-1762’ by Ernest Burrus in 1984)
2) Additional reports from the 1700’s & 1800’s
Alric, Henry. Sketches of a Journey… and of a Civil War in Northern Lower California. (Published in 1869)
Clavigero, Francisco. History of Lower California. (Published in 1786)
Hittell, Theodore. El Triunfo de la Cruz, The First Ship Built in the Californias. (Published in 1880)
Rodero, Gaspar. Report of 1737*
Rojo, Manuel. Historical Notes on Lower California. (Published in 1879)
Tompes, Juan Francisco de. Reports of 1735*
Velázquez de León, Joaquín. Royal Officer in Baja California 1768-1770. (* Reports published in ‘Jesuit Relations, Baja California 1716-1762’ by Ernest Burrus in 1984)
3) History publications 1908 to 1968
Aschmann, Homer. The Central Desert of Baja California: Demography and Ecology. (Published in 1959)
Dunne, Peter. Black Robes in Lower California. (Published in 1968)
Engelhardt, Zephyrin. The Missions and Missionaries of California, Vol. 1 Lower California. (Published in 1929)
Gerhard, Peter. Lower California Guidebook. (Published in 1956)
Martinez, Pablo. A History of Lower California. (Published in 1960)
McDonald, Marquis. Baja: Land of Lost Missions. (A 1949 expedition, published in 1968)
Meigs, Peveril. The Dominican Mission Frontier in Lower California. (Published in 1935)
North, Arthur. The Mother of California. (Published in 1908); Camp and Camino in Lower California. (Published in 1910)
Weber, Francis. The Missions & Missionaries of Baja California. (Published in 1968)
4) History publications 1973 to 2013
Burckhalter, David. Baja California Missions, In the Footsteps of the Padres. (Published in 2013)
Crosby, Harry. Antigua California. (Published in 1994) buy xanax online doctor Jackson, Robert. Indian Population Decline The Missions of Northwestern New Spain, 1687-1840. (Published in 1994)
Kurillo, Max. The Old Missions of Baja & Alta California, 1697-1834. (Published in 2012)
Mathes, Michael. The Missions of Baja California, 1683-1849. (Published in 1977); The Land of Calafia: A Brief History of Peninsular California (1533-1848). (Published in 2009)
O’Neil, Ann. Loreto, Baja California, First Mission and Capital of Spanish California. (Published in 2001)
Pepper, Choral. Baja California, Vanished Missions, Lost Treasures, Strange Stories Tall and True. (Published in 1973)
Robertson, Tomás. Baja California and its Missions. (Published in 1978)
Vernon, Edward. Las Misiones Antiguas, The Spanish Missions of Baja California. (Published in 2002)
Weber, Francis. The Peninsular California Missions, 1808-1880. (Published in 1979)
Werschkul, Dave. Saints and Demons in a Desert Wilderness. (Published in 2003)
Maps showing Baja California missions
Condition of Original Mission Buildings in 2013:
1) Loreto: Intact, original walls, roof reconstruction and modern bell tower.
2) San Javier: Intact, original.
3) Ligüí: No ruins, obliterated by flash floods, a metal cross placed nearby.
4) Mulegé: Intact, original.
5) San José de Comondú: Side chapel intact, main church ruins demolished.
6) La Purísima: No standing ruins, some tombs next to site.
7) La Paz: No ruins, possible site marked with plaque, covered by modern buildings.
8) Guadalupe de Huasinapí: Adobe Ruins, stone walls.
9) Dolores (Apaté): Stone Ruins.
10) Santiago: No ruins, modern church on site.
11) San Ignacio: Intact, original.
12) San José del Cabo: No ruins, modern church on site.
13) Santa Rosa: Some low walls, modern church by site.
14) San Luis Gonzaga: Intact, original. 15) Santa Gertrudis: Intact, interior remodeled.
16) San Borja: Intact, original stone church with some roof reconstruction. Adobe ruins behind.
17) Santa María: Adobe Ruins.
18) San Fernando: Adobe Ruins.
19) El Rosario: Adobe Ruins.
20) Santo Domingo: Adobe Ruins.
21) San Vicente: Adobe Ruins.
22) San Miguel: Adobe Ruins.
23) Santo Tomás: Adobe Ruins.
24) San Pedro Martír: Some low walls.
25) Santa Catalina: No ruins (foundation stones).
26) El Descanso: No ruins (foundation stones).
27) Guadalupe: Foundation ruins.
There has been preservation with some degree of protection at all the sites with original mission walls or foundations remaining, except at Santa Catalina, San Pedro Martir, Santo Tomás, Santa María, Dolores, and Guadalupe de Huasinapí. These sites are either too remote or property owners will not consent.