Spanish Era Measurements

Introduction The main problem with measurements from many years ago is that while today we like to be precise, back then precision was much less a goal. In many cases, measurements were based on the length of some part of human anatomy but since every person is different, the measurements varied accordingly. Also, definitions often […]

Mission Stories

As with most any enterprise, there are many stories about the missions and their founding. Most are false or misleading; some of these are detailed below. Story: The Golden Road A persistent story I often heard as a child (and is still being spread) is that the padres, in order to mark El Camino Real, […]

Serra Short Biography

Who is Saint Junípero Serra? A short biography: Saint Serra was born Miguel Jose Serra 24 November 1713 at Petra on the Island of Majorca. He died 28 August 1784 and is buried at the mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo. On 14 September 1730 he entered the Franciscan Order. He received a Doctor of […]

Mission Related Topics

Here you can find various miscellaneous facts about the mission system and some related discussions. Below is an index to these discussions (they used to be on a single page but I’ve moved them to individual pages as the amount of information grew 🙂 )… Order in which the missions were founded Mission Nicknames Short […]

Mission Tankers During World War II

During World War II a group of Merchant Marine tanker ships were named after various missions. These became known as the mission fleet. While little celebrated, merchant mariners were literally on the front lines once out of port. Like US Navy ships they were often attacked by any means available and some mariners received gunnery […]

Mission Founding Order

One of the questions often asked is in what order the missions were founded. Here is the order/date of founding for each: Founded by Saint Junípero Serra 1. San Diego de Alcalá (16 July 1769) 2. San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo (3 June 1770) 3. San Antonio de Padua (14 July 1771) 4. San Gabriel […]

Military Governors of California

After Mexico ceded California to the U.S. in 1846 Congress delayed setting up a territorial government for a variety of reasons. A series of seven military governors filled the gap until an election could be held. 7 Jul – 29 Jul 1846: John Drake Sloat John Drake Sloat (1781-1867) was born 6 July 1781 in […]

El Camino Real

The road that linked the missions, pueblos, and presidios in early California was called El Camino Real. While typically called “The King’s Highway” the term “camino real” is more usually used to denote a crude road, almost a trail, used mostly by wagons. Modern day U.S. Highway 101 follows the general route of the original […]

Mission Materials

Missions were generally made out of local materials. Originally, there were largely reed structures; often no more than huts. As the colonization continued and more native peoples were made available for work, the missions started to be constructed out of adobe but they still had reed roofs and dirt floors. Still later, after some of […]


You can’t tell the story of the California missions without encountering one or more earthquakes. Some of these occurred close in time but far apart in distance. I’ve noted that some histories get these confused. So, to set the record straight, here is a listing of the major (5.0 and above) earthquakes in California that […]