Leanne Cole has suggested the theme of MM for her Monochrome Madness Challenge 2-4 and so I have decided to add another posting in my series on California Missions that I have been calling Missions in Monochrome. Today we will be looking at Mission San Jose, the mission closest to my home in Castro Valley and the only one of the 21 California Missions located in the East Bay portion of the San Francisco Bay Area.
No, Mission San Jose is not in San Jose. It is located in the city of Fremont about 15 miles north of San Jose and about 13 miles north of Mission Santa Clara. The town of Mission San Jose grew up around the Mission and in 1957 Mission San Jose joined four other nearby communities — Irvington, Niles, Centerville and Warm Springs — to create the new city of Fremont.
Mission San Jose is the 14th of the 21 California Missions and was founded by Father
Fermin Francisco de Lasuen in 1797. The adobe church that was built in 1809 was destroyed by an earthquake in 1868. The wooden church that replaced it was sold to an Anglican community and moved across the bay to San Mateo. Work commenced in 1982 on building a replica of the church as it looked in the 1830s and the project was completed in 1985. The only building left from the original Mission complex that once consisted of over 100 adobe buildings is the rectory which how houses a gift shop and a museum.
Mission San Jose was one of the most financially successful missions in California. At the height of its prosperity in the early 1830s thousand of heads of cattle and sheep roamed the East Bay Hills as far north as Oakland. And more than 1800 Indians (Ohlone, Yokuts, Coast Miwok, Patwin and Plains Miwok) lived on the Mission property.
In 1827 the American frontiersman Jedediah Smith visited the Mission with his band of fur trappers and submitted a letter on his friendly intentions to the mission padre. But Father Narciso Durán spoke not a word of English and was suspicious of Smith’s intentions and locked him up in the Mission jail. After two weeks of intercessions by the priest at the Santa Clara Mission who could read English and government officials in Monterey who admonished Smith for entering the country illegally, he was allowed to go free. Smith was cheerful throughout the entire affair and even attended Mass and other social events at the Mission even though he himself did not understand a word of Latin or Spanish.
Things began to fall apart in 1833 when the Mexican government replaced all the Spanish- born Franciscans with Mexican priests. Then in 1834 all of the missions were secularized and Governor Pio Pico sold the Mission lands to Juan Alvarado (an ex-governor) and Andres Pico. By 1846 the mission was abandoned, all of the Indians had disappeared, and a newly-arrived American named H C Smith had opened up a store in one of the mission buildings.
By the time of the Gold Rush in 1849 a farmer from Indiana named Elias Beard had settled in the Mission and built a temporary home for his family in the church. In 1850 Beard and John M Horner bought Alvarado’s share of Rancho Ex-Mission San Jose (the official name given to the mission lands). He later built another house where the Dominican Convent now stands and began planting all over, prospering for awhile with his potato crop that he sold in San Francisco for the miners who were flocking in from all over the world in search of gold.
Some of the trees Beard planted in the 1850s can still be seen on the grounds of the Convent of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose northeast of the mission and the Convent of the Sisters of the Holy Family who acquired what became known as the Palmdale Estate southwest of the Mission in 1949.
In 1858 the church and a few surrounding buildings were given back to the Catholic Church.
In 1985 a replica of the old mission was built to look like it did in the 1830s. It now serves as an auxiliary chapel to the main parish of St Joseph church next door. My wife and I attended a wedding at the Mission a few years ago.
We lived in Fremont for three years prior to moving to Castro Valley 42 years ago and every now and then go back to visit. These photos are from our most recent visit in February of this year.
Go to Leanne’s website to see what other photographers have chosen for their MM theme this week.