The California Missions On-Line Project
Mission Santa Ines
Founded September 17, 1804

Founding of the mission

Mission Santa Ines was founded on September 17, 1804 by Father Estevan Tapis, Father-Presidente of the Mission Chain after Father Fermin Lasuen's death.. It was the 19th mission in the 21 mission chain in Alta California. It was named for Saint Agnes. Mission Santa Ines was established to minister to the Indians of the Coast Mountains. It was a midway point between Mission Santa Barbara and Mission La Purisima Concepcion. There was also overcrowding at those missions so this mission was to relieve some of that problem.

Back to the top

Local Indians
Click here to see a video of the Mission Cemetery

The Chumash Indians of the area were friendly and helpful. There were over 200 on the founding day and 20 were baptized. They were good farmers and their herds of cattle grew to over 13,000. They learned the trades of the mission very well. Not all went well at the mission. Spain had stopped funding the missions after Mexico won its independence. There were many soldiers at the mission after trying to fight off the pirate Bouchard in 1818. The soldiers were no longer being paid and took out their frustrations on the Indians. On February 21, 1824, a soldier beat a young Indian for no real reason. This made many of the Indians angry and they revolted. They were tired of the harsh treatment they had received from the soldiers. Some of the Indians went to get the Indians from Missions Santa Barbara and La Purisima to help in the fight. When the fighting was over, the Indians themselves put out the fire that had started at the mission. Many of the Indians left to join the Tulare Indian Tribe in the mountains. Only a few Indians remained at the mission.

Back to the top

Economy of the mission

The economy at Mission Santa Ines 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. The Indians learned the trades well. Mission Santa Ines never had the success that the padres had originally hoped for. The largest number of Indians living at the mission was 768. There were also 6,000 head of cattle; 5,000 sheep; 120 goats; 150 pigs; 120 pack mules; and 770 horses in 1871, the best year at the mission.

Back to the top

The community
Click here to see a video Inside the Mission Quadrangle

Mission Santa Ines was a lonely place with very few visitors. In fact it was so rare that visitors came to the mission, that when one was spotted, bells were rung and everyone came to greet them at the front doors.

Back to the top


After Mexico won its independence from 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. The first person who was sent to be in charge of the mission, rented out half of it for $580 a year. The Indians had all left the mission and with no one to care for the fields, the mission went to ruin. The mission was later purchased by those first renters for $7,000 in 1846. The church had no money to keep up the mission when it was given back in 1862.

Back to the top


The first one to really try and rebuild the once beautiful mission was Father Buckler in 1904. He re-roofed the church, reinforced the walls and foundations and built a new water system. When he retired in 1924, electricity and indoor plumbing were installed. Major restoration was not begun until 1947, when The Hearst Foundation donated money to pay the for project. The restoration continues to this day.

Back to the top

Current use

Today the mission is an active parish. There is a museum, gift shop and information for visitors available at the mission. The Danish town of Solvang was built up around the Mission Santa Ines in the early 1900's. The restoration continues and the Capuchin Francescan Fathers take excellent care of the mission today.

Back to the top

Graphic tour
Click below to see a video Inside the Mission Church
Back to the top

Mission Quiz

Objective: answer 7 questions correctly. JavaScript required!

1. Who was the founder of Mission Santa Ines?

Junipero Serra
Gaspar de Portola
Estevan Tapis
Fermin Lasuen

2. Mission Santa Ines was founded....?

September 17, 1804
September 21, 1769
April 21, 1782
June 14, 1804

3. What Indian Tribe was in the area of the Santa Ines Mission?


4. Mission Santa Ines was started to...?

be the largest farming missions
minister to the Indians of the coast mountains
take care of the sick Indians from neighboring missions
house extra soldiers

5. Who did the actual building of the missions?

construction companies
the priests
the soldiers
the local Indians

6. What happened to the missions in 1834?

They opened
The Indians took over

7. When did the Mission Santa Ines first get electricity and indoor plumbing?


8. Mission Santa Ines is midway between which missions?

San Francisco de Asis and San Francisco Solano
Santa Barbara and San Buenaventura
La Purisima Conception and Santa Barbara
La Purisima Conception and San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

9. What happened in 1824?

the mission was founded
Missions were taken over by Mexican priests
Indians revolted at the mission

10. What did Abraham Lincoln agree to in 1863?

Formally return the Mission lands to the Church
Run for President of the United States
Visit the San Antonio de Padua Mission
force the Indians to leave the Mission

Back to the top

The Mission Page | The Assessment Page |Main Page

Other Santa Ines sites:

California Mission Internet Trail

The Spanish Missions of California

California Missions Interactive Homepage

California Missions

Old Mission Santa InÚs - A large site with excellent color photos, an extensive and detailed page on the history of the mission from the pre-mission era into the 1990s, and informative pages related to parish business. Also tourist related information about the Santa Ynez Valley, Solvang, nearby towns, and a map. Mission Santa Ines will be the site of the 1999 CMSA conference (see News and Events page of our site).

This project written by Rob Garretson in partial fulfilment of the Master's of Arts Degree from Cal Poly Pomona

Please send questions and/or comments to Mr. Garretson

This page last updated on February 28, 2015