“Se Fundaron Un Pueblo De Espanoles,” (A Village of Spaniards Was Founded,) by Thomas Workman Temple II, 1905

“It should not be difficult to reconstruct the scene of the founding if we but treat the matter in a practical, dispassionate manner, bearing in mind the forces brought to bear upon the event, and the circumstances under which it occurred. The many weary leagues of travel over land and sea, must have wrought havoc with the spirit, endurance and appearance of the settlers. After looking forward to the sheltering walls of the Mission at San Gabriel, they had been quarantined a league away, outcasts as it were. But perhaps all were assuredly free of the ‘viruelas’ and could attend mass on that eventful Tuesday of September 4th.

No doubt the mothers gave thanks for their safe arrival, the recovery of their children from the loathsome disease, and all invoked the intercession of their Patrona, Maria Santisima de Porciuncula, in whose name they were about to found their Pueblo. Sanchez, or his brother Franciscan Cruzado must have exhorted them from the pulpit to set good example to neophyte and heathen alike helping to whip the pack-mules into line. No animals other than these however, helped stir up the dusty camino, for Neve insisted on the completion of the Pueblo before distributing the stock, which was still corraled near the Mission.

No doubt they also reminded the colonists that ‘la Mision del Arcangel San Gabriel,” was their fond mother and spiritual guide; and must have asked their prayers for the repose of those hapless victims now in eternal sleep beside the turbulent waters of the Colorado.

Having gathered together again their domestic belongings, settlers and soldier escort proceed from the Mission on horseback. Perhaps even a carreta from the mission was loaned for the occasion. The same saddles that had been issued in Sonora to men and women alike, were again creaking under them, with the added weight of children, some carried up in front, the older ones hanging on behind, or lagging at the rear.

No better description of the route followed has as yet appeared than that found in Phil Townsend Hanna’s scholarly and sensible account of the founding of the Pueblo of Our Lady. He says, ‘Leaving the Mission, the party followed the old camino still known as Mission Road, crossing diagonally through the present city of Alhambra, proceeding north of the Midwick Country Club, skirting the southern border of Lincoln Park, thence on Aliso street, fording the Los Angeles River in the vicinity of the Aliso street bridge, and on to the site of the Plaza; following, in brief, the easiest trail between the two points, a trail discovered and followed by the wild beasts for endless ages before.” I may add that the Indians of the Yabit 28 rancheria — referred to as ‘Yang-na’ by later historians — adjacent to the site of the Pueblo, according to the Mission registers, must have also made of it a well-worn path to the Mission.

The sun had begun to cast long shadows before the necessary three leagues or more had been covered. Curious and friendly Indians had perhaps watched their every move, as they climbed the steep banks of the Porciuncula, and started to gather about the crude plazuela, the children, now recalcitrant as the mules, perhaps still lingering near the stream. Building lots and planting fields had already been drawn by lot at the Mission, and the Corporal had but to designate this or that location to each colonist. Whatever ceremony was attendant on this putting of the poblador in possession must have been simple and unostentatious. Wood and water were near at hand, and if temporary huts and a guard house had not already been commenced, the men now set to work eagerly, to afford shelter for their families.

There is less confusion as evening draws on, and the mothers prepare the cena, while the men tend the campfires, happy in the thought that they have this day ‘dado principio a su pueblo’ — given a beginning to their Pueblo. Such is the simple story of the foundation of a community, which one hundred and fifty years later takes its place among the great cities of the world. The drama of it all is not in the fanfare and ‘panoply of pomp and liturgy’ that writers have attributed, but rather that having had such an humble beginning Royally ordained though it may have been, it has today surpassed the wildest dreams of the most farsighted of its founders.

Crespi who named the river after ‘Our Lady Queen of the Angels,’ so beloved of St. Francis, did not see the Pueblo founded. Nor did Rivera, who painted in vivid language the beauties of the valley to soldiers and settlers alike, witness these humble beginnings.”

-Excerpt and images courtesy of Archive.org, University of Florida, George A. Smathers Libraries, Historical Society of Southern California, “Annual publication of the Historical Society of Southern California,” by the Pioneers of Los Angeles County, “Se Fundaron Un Pueblo De Espanoles” (A Village of Spaniards Was Founded,) by Thomas Workman Temple II, 1905

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