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December 30, 2009     The Julian News
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December 30, 2009 Not Getting A Building Permit In 1816 - The Santa Sometimes the most frustrating part of a building project is getting the bleeping permit. It was like that already when Santa Ysabel was an outlying clutch of Indian villages in remote New Spain. I have proof. I am not making this up. On the loosely related subject of vintage bumper stickers, I remember some great ones. My favorite was, "1 feel much better since I gave up hope." Perhaps more relevant to our subject was "Make welfare as hard to get as a building permit," usually found on contractors' pickups. That lofty goat was pretty much achieved during the prosperous Clinton years when welfare was severely curtailed. But those who have rebuilt out here after fires know that you still have to jump through hoops to get a permit. I liked bumper stickers - it was a way for society to connect and communicate ideas, albeit simple ones, like "Mikey likes it," or "You toucha my car, I breaka you face." This richness of interpersonal contact has been displaced now by Twitter and riled-up talk radio. So let's get riled about those permits. The first mention of Santa Ysabel in mission baptismal records was by Padre Jose Sanchez on April 25, 1812, It took place at San Diego Mission. Sanchez was an affable fellow, well-liked, a man who got big things done but who enjoyed his wine and cigars. The following year, fifteen more converts came down through the hills to be baptized. In 1818, converts were coming all the way from San Felipe, called Teguila. Clearly, a church in the mountains was needed and was consistent with the objectives of the Franciscan order and the viceregal government in Mexico City, besieged as it was in those unsettled times. Santa Ysabel was named for a princess of Aragon who became the "Holy Queen Isabel" of Portugal. She was a benefactress of the sisters of Santa Clara, affiliated with the Franciscans. You can visit her mortal remains in Coimbra, Portugal. Think kindly of Isabel - she had a roving husband and a hotheaded son to deal with. In 1816, the head of all Franciscan missions encouraged Padre Sanchez to petition Governor Sola for a permit (licencia) to erect a chapel for 230 Indians at Elcuanam, or Santa Ysabel. He did, and later in that year, Sanchez re- submitted the application just before Christmas, citing all the good reasons for the project. In fact, he understated the site's advantages. It was a far better site for their purposes than Mission Valley, with good soil, sufficient water, and eager natives. It was a chance to do something really good. Using more obsequious language, Sanchez again applied on October 13, 1818 to "mi sefor y duefio" (my lord and master) for a chapel at "Santa Ysavel de la Sierra." He cited 230 baptisms of Indians who promised to remain converted, along with abundant "gentilidad" (heathendom). His language was as florid as his handwriting was inscrutable. He even addressed Governor Don Pablo Vicente de Sola as "su majestad." Egos must be fed. Another padre approached the governor on the subject in 1819, but said the governor indicated some "repugnancia" while promising to consult the presidio commander about it. It seems like a case of foot dragging. I don't know if the permit was ever issued. What I do know is that already on September 20 of the previous year, Padre Martin had blessed the chapel site. Three days later, Padre Sanchez baptized 32 natives at the site. Thenceforth, all baptisms were registered as having taken place at that chapel. In September 1821, Sanchez and the head of all the missions erected a cross in front of the chapel and 650 Indians kissed it. The padres were treated to mesquite bean bread, about which they were less than enthusiastic. The natives thought it very tasty. By 1822, there was a granary, several houses, a cemetery and 450 neophytes settled near the chapel. Perhaps the Indians and padres got tired of waiting for a permit and just went ahead and built the chapel complex, setting a noble precedent for all the unpermitted structures around ...... A c,;E3 Floor Plan of original Santa Ysabel Mission Ysabel Mission by Albert Simonson these hills. Often it is easier to get forgiveness than permission, wise men have said. "His majesty" didn't need to know. He was way up in Monterey, anyway, a world away. The natives prospered with Spanish agricultural practices and the husbandry of cattle and chickens. Grain fields were planted using oxen near natural drainages along the present road toward Mesa Grande. Crops included grapes, figs, pumpkins, wheat, barley, corn, beans, melons and fruits. An upstream reservoir assured the water supply. Luckily, we have the foundation plan of the quadrangle which included the chapel. At the actual site, you can see a portion of the stone foundation and baked-clay floor tiles of the chapel, looking rather like Home Depot 8X16 pavers, but lumpier and with nice organic patina. Other parts of the quadrangle probably had earthen floors. The walls are known to have been thick adobe. The scale was given in ten Castilian varas (equaling two and a half feet each). Measuring from the plan, the whole quadrangle was about 250 by 290 feet. The rooms were about 21-22 feet wide, which agrees with site measurement and also with a cSntemp0raneous reconstructed chapel at Pala. Regarding wall thickness and room width, the chapel is very close in size to Pala and even to the mother mission in Loreto, Mexico. The building seems to have been of a standard time- tested design. In the belfry, one bell bore the marking "San Pedro 1767." Another was purchased for six burro loads of grain and was embossed "N.S. de Loreto 1729" (Nuestra Sefiora...). One had a bullet hole in it. On a foggy night in 1926, the official Indian bell ringer saw a pickup parked near the chapel. The next morning, as he went to ring the bells, he found only the ~clappers lying by tire tracks. The whereabouts of these historic bells remains a mystery. The clappers are displayed in the chapel museum room, among native and missionary artifacts. Original Foundation Blocks at Less mysterious is why the governor responded to the application with "repugnance." Franciscans believed that land was for the benefit of Indians under the mission's spiritual and material guidance until Indian ranchos and pueblos could sustain themselves. Soldiers and secular authorities seldom saw things that way. Colonists wanted land. Everyone needed income. In post-Napoleonic Spain, the famous legislative "cortes" of Cadiz decreed secularization of missions in New Spain. I once stood in an elegant elliptical salon in that oldest of Spanish cities, where the largely anti-clerical cortes convened. Not knowing its full importance or scope, I could only think sadly of the dreams of distant padres and Indians doomed in that place. It was probably a minor agenda item for that pivotal postwar parliament, but for them it was the beginning of the end. Turmoil in Spain led to political turmoil in New Spain and a long war of independence. After 1811, stipends for the missionaries and military salaries from Mexico City failed to arrive. The governor had to demand onerous taxes from the missions in goods, laborers and even cash. He was almost as bad as the IRS. The Julian News 7 We Carry Stove Pellets 2902 Washington Street 760-765-1212 Winter Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30 to 5:00, Sat 9:00 to 5:00 CLOSED on Sunday T_ erience Since 1988 * Long Term Forest Maintenance and Planning * Hazardous Removal and Precision Felling * Ornamental Pruning and Lacing * Brush Clearing and Chipping * Stump Grinding FREE ES TIMA TES Fully Insured for Your Protection ERIC DAUBER H: 760-765-2975 C: 760-271-9585 PO Box 254 JULIAN, CA. 92036 WE-8690A Santa Ysabel Mission In those constrained circumstances, the governor probably regarded the idea of a new mission deep in Indian territory as much too wild a dream, and unlikely to further his own agendas or to balance his budget. Nevertheless, for two decades, against a contrary tide of history, the mission Indians and padres at Santa Ysabel succeeded superbly, until secularization led to corruption by an appointed superintendent. He was Jose Ortega, the pioneer ranchero of Ramona's big valley, "a curiosity in himself ", a man who, it was said, "cares to talk of nothing but aguardiente (brandy) and women." Also, he had 21 children who had priority over the welfare of Indians, we can suppose. Missionbuildings fell into disrepair. In 1856, storms pelted the adobe buildings, the most severe in human memory. Then, on September 20, a heavy earthquake resounded through the county. It may have involved our local Elsinore Fault, running from Lake Henshaw through Banner Canyon, since Judge Hayes reported, "At Santa Ysabel the shock was so severe as to shake down the plastering of rooms of some of the buildings. The cattle on the farms stampeded...and havoc was created among all the Indians in the vicinity." Let's be optimistic and say that the fault stress was relieved on that day, so we have nothing to worry about, yet. Later reports describe the establishment as derelict. Soon there were only mounds of melted adobe, and Indians had to improvise later chapels. As I was reading these scribbly letters, conserved in the Santa Barbara Mission Archives, I found it hard to not be moved by the padres' endurance and by the trusting enthusiasm of the Indians. Still, perhaps the governor was justified in stalling the permit. Yes, Padre Sanchez had accomplishments to his credit, like the new San Diego Mission, and the mission dam in the gorge, and its tiled water channel, but things were changing, for the worse, and did not favor the missions. Perhaps it really was all just too wild a dream. But some of these padres were driven by dreams. Is that so wrong? 'i