In 1769, Spanish
explorers led by Gaspar de
Portola named this area Santa Cruz, or Holy Cross in English. Mission
Santa Cruz was founded on September 25, 1791 by Father Fermin Lasuen,
Presidente of the California Missions Chain. It was the 12th mission
in the 21 mission chain in Alta California. It was named for the
Sacred Cross. The church was completed in 1794. It was 112 feet long
and 29 feet wide.
The Indians who built
lived at the
mission were from the Yokut and Ohlone Tribes. They became known as
the Santa Cruz Indians as most of the the Mission Indians were named
by the Spaniards at the local mission. The first few years at Mission
Santa Cruz were happy and prosperous. Indian Chief Sugert and his
family became members of the mission. By 1796 the total number of
Indians was around 500 at the mission.
The economy at Mission
Santa Cruz was
similar to the other missions in that they planted crops of wheat and
corn. They also planted vineyards, and raised cattle and sheep. The
agriculture was needed not only to maintain the mission community and
the nearby Indians, but was used for trade and served to visitors to
the mission. Records show that in 1796 the farm had produced 1,200
bushels of grain, 600 bushels of corn, and 60 bushels of
The Mission Santa Cruz
seemed destined for
trouble. In 1799 a rainstorm damaged the church so badly that it had
to be rebuilt. Father Quintana was tricked into visiting a sick
Indian and attacked and killed by the Indians. The Indians were
punished but said that the padre treated them badly. In 1818, the
padres and Indians were ordered to leave the mission and go to
Mission Soledad for fear of pirate attacks. The settlers near the
mission were to hide the mission valuables, when the padres and
Indians returned they found that the valuables had instead been
stolen. The settlers also damaged the inside of the church. The town
of Branciforte continued to be trouble for the mission. The town
became a place for gambling, thievery, and drunkenness. This proved
to be a poor influence on the Indians who left the mission to work in
the town. By 1831 there were only 300 Indians left at Mission Santa
Cruz which was not enough to continue the mission.
After Mexico won its
Spain, it found that it could no longer afford to keep the missions
running as Spain had done. In 1834, Mexico decided to end the mission
system and sell all of the lands. They offered the lands to the
Indians who did not want the lands or could not come up with the
purchase price. The lands were divided into smaller Ranchos and sold
to Mexican citizens who were helpful during the war for independence.
After nearly 30 years, the missions were returned to the Catholic
Church. Although some of the missions had already been returned to
the church, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed an Act
declaring that all of the 21 missions in the California mission chain
would become the property of the Catholic Church and have remained so
since that time. A series of earthquakes in 1857 destroyed the
mission. The mission was put up for sale, but no one wanted to buy
it. In 1858 a wood frame church was built on the old mission
property. In 1889 the current Gothic style Holy Cross Church was
built on the original adobe mission site.
There is nothing left
mission except for a row of buildings which at one time housed Indian
families. The buildings are open to visitors and are in remarkable
condition. In 1931 Gladys Sullivan Doyle proposed to build a replica
of the mission. She used her own money to build a half size replica
of the mission church. Today only the little chapel is left to remind
the world of Mission Santa Cruz.
The Mission Santa Cruz
a museum open to
visitors. The Holy Cross Church on the site of the original church is
an active and busy parish. The half size chapel has weekday masses
and is available for weddings and funerals. It is a small reminder of
a once rich heritage.
Objective: answer 7 questions correctly.
disabled. Get Netscape 3.0
or turn it on!
2. Mission Santa Cruz was founded....?
3. What Indian Tribe was in the area of
4. What was the name of the town that
for the Mission?
5. Who did the actual building of the
6. What happened to the missions in 1834?
Indians took over
7. Santa Cruz is named for...?
8. Why did the padres and Indians leave
Indians were unfriendly
order them to leave
earthquake destroyed the mission
9. What happened in 1931?
mission was completely
Downie rebuilt the mission
mission was totally destroyed
Doyle offers to build a replica of the mission church
10. What did Abraham Lincoln agree to in
return the Mission lands to
President of the United
the San Antonio de Padua
the Indians to leave the
Mission Internet Trail
Spanish Missions of California
Missions Interactive Homepage
Cruz - Santa
Cruz County Local
History: Spanish Period. Also includes articles on Portola and
Cruz Mission Visitor's Page - Events
at the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park; visitor information;
links to "The Quiroste Attack on the Santa Cruz Mission," "Mission
Santa Cruz and the Ohlone and Yokuts Indians" by Phil Laverty, a
brief history of the main adobe, "History of the Old Adobe" and
informational materials from the Costanoan Ohlone Indian Canyon
This project written by Rob
partial fulfilment of
of Arts Degree
Please send questions
and/or comments to Mr.
This page last updated
on February 28, 2015