Key Personalities in California's History
King Carlos III of Spain
After an oil painting in Museo de Prado by Anton Raphael Mengs, painted in 1761.
King Carlos authorized the settlement of Alta California and ruled during the critical early decades of struggle.
Antonio María de Bucareli y Ursúa (1717-1779)
After his official portrait.
Bucareli became the Viceroy of New Spain on September 22, 1771 and served until his death in 1779.
José de Gálvez (1720-1787)
After an original oil painting at Museo de Prado.
Gálvez, who became Visitador of New Spain, was in charge of the expulsion of the Jesuits, the planning for the settlement of Alta California and the prominent role given the Franciscans in that endeavor.
The statue of Saint Didacus of Alcalá
By Juan Martínez Montanés, installed in the Franciscan Convento de San Francisco in Cádiz in 1590.
Photograph by Brian Grady, for Pentacle Press.
The Franciscans departing for the New World prayed before this statue, which honored the Patron Saint of the first California Mission.
Fr. Junípero Serra (1713-1784)
After a portrait done by Pedro Pablo Mguez, drawn from an original oil painting, now lost.
Serra was the first Father-President of the Alta California Missions and founder of the first nine missions.
Fr. Francisco Tomás Hermenegildo Garcés (1738-1781)
Garcés, who became known as the ‘Franciscan Pathfinder’, was the most effective early explorer of California. He was killed in 1781 when Yuman Indians attacked and destroyed the Franciscan missions of Purisima Concepcion and San Pedro in Arizona.
Inhabitants of California
By expedition artist Louis Choris, sketched in 1816.
The ultimate success and prosperity of the California Missions depended on the natives, who did all of the work at the missions.
Missionaries as they came and went
After an original drawing by Alexander Harmer, © 2014 Pentacle Press.
Some 146 Franciscans, most of them from Spain, served in Alta California.
By Renaldo Rivera and Betty Sabo, 2005.
This sculpture is part of an extensive outdoor sculpture display at the Albuquerque Museum of Art. It depicts the heroic journey settlers made from New Spain (Mexico) into the southwest in 18th century.
Fermín Francisco de Lasuén (1736-1803)
A painting by Susan Gamble © 2012 Pentacle Press.
The second Father-President of the California Missions.
Fr. Antonio Peyri (1769-?)
Fr. Peyri served as the senior missionary at San Luis Rey for 33 years, winning the trust and affection of the neophytes and building this mission into the most prosperous of the California missions, with a population over three times the mission average.
Nikolai Petrovich Rezanov (1764-1807)
Russian count and adventurer who sparked one of the great love stories of Alta California.
While in San Francisco seeking supplies for the struggling Russian outpost in Sitka, Alaska in 1806 he became engaged to the Commandant’s comely daughter Conchita, but died in Siberia on his return to Russia. Concita became a Dominican nun.
Fr. Narcisco Duran (1776-1846)
By Eugène Duflot de Mofras, 1844.
Fr. Duran was the senior missionary at Mission San Jose where he served from 1806-1833. He then moved to Mission Santa Bárbara, and became Father-President of the California Missions.
Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo (1807-1890)
By E. Hoopers.
General Vallejo was a remarkable figure who controlled Sonoma and much of northern California during Mexican rule, facilitated the takeover of California by the United States, and then helped document the 19th century history of Northern California.
Fr. Gonzáles Rubio, O.F.M. (1804-1875)
The last living survivor of the early missionaries, after an oil painting at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.
Fr. Rubio was one of the Mexican Franciscans sent to California in 1833, where he replaced Fr. Duran at Mission San José. In 1842 he assumed responsibility for Mission Santa Bárbara.
Franciscans Cutting Hay in Front of Mission Santa Bárbara
This mission has been continuously occupied by Franciscans since its founding, and views of the padres were a common sight, particularly when there was a seminary and missionary center there (1886-1910).
A Statue of Junipero Serra and the Indian Boy Evangelista
By Sallie James Farnham, 1978.
It seems fitting to end with one contemporary sculpture of the man who has more statues, monuments and paintings depicting him than any other figure in California’s early history. This statue is located in Memorial Park directly across from the San Fernando Mission.