California Mission Life (1769-1834)

Missions played an important role in the Spanish exploration and settlement of new territory.

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Mission Life

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Missions were established by the Spanish to hold and colonize new land. The California missions were also created for this purpose. This missions consisted of the church, a fort or presidio, and the town or pueblo. The fort and soldiers protected the padres from attack. The town provided the basic necessities for growing families. Men, women and children were brought in from Mexico to settle in the town.

The missions were generally designed as a walled city, in the shape of a quadrangle. The church was on one side, and the fort and town on two other sides, with a large open square in the center.

The picture of life in one of these missions during their period of prosperity is unique and attractive. The whole place was a hive of industry: trades plying indoors and outdoors; tillers, herders, vintagers by hundreds, going to and fro; children in schools; women spinning; bands of young men practising on musical instruments; music, the scores of which, in many instances, they had themselves written out; at evening, all sorts of games of running, leaping, dancing, and ball-throwing, and the picturesque ceremonies of a religion which has always been wise in availing itself of beautiful agencies in color, form, and harmony.

At every mission were walled gardens with waving palms, sparkling fountains, groves of olive trees, broad vineyards, and orchards of all manner of fruits; over all, the sunny, delicious, winterless California sky.

 

Links to other sites on California Missions

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  Library of Congress California History Collection - The Missions
 

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