Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Food For Thought

Mission San Jose, our archaeological dig site, was founded by Father Fermin Lausen on June 11, 1797. It was the 14th California Mission located about 15 miles northeast of the San Jose Pueblo and nestled at the foot of Mission Peak. Initially the temporary structures were made of thatched roof construction until the permanent adobe building was erected in 1809.

“The site was blessed with wonderful natural resources. Mission San Jose thrived and grew until it became the most prosperous and successful mission in Northern California. Its vast herds of cattle, horses, mules, and sheep roamed the East Bay and the valleys and hills far to the east. It furnished much of the food for other missions and government entities. Many foreigners came to visit and trade for Mission products. The Mission also gained recognition for its music and choir.  Mission San Jose baptized more Indians than any other mission and reached a peak population of 1,900. Disease and change of lifestyle killed many and decreased their number. Some Ohlone people did not want to live at the Mission, but their old way of life quickly disappeared.”

Mission San Jose survives today as a reminder of our Spanish heritage and a memorial to the thousands of Native Americans who lived, worked, and died here. This is where the first Christian Church, school, industry, farming, and cattle raising in Alameda County began. However, what we see today is a replica of the 1809 adobe church which was completed in 1984. The adobe museum building is a surviving remnant of the huge original rectangle of living quarters, shops, and storerooms. I hope maybe on our last class (back fill day), I can wander over to this museum and get a better picture of our local history and how it all ties into the artifacts we excavated. In the future it would also be interesting for those of us who are museum savvy, to possibly work with the sisters or at least offer assistance in curating some of the artifacts for their museum.

Mission San Jose, the first known photographic image, by C.E. Watkins, 1853 


  1. Mark, I know you keep looking for the orchard in some of the old mission photos. Check out the sketch I posted, looks like a nice orchard to the back of the mission.

  2. Hello Vanessa and Mark - very nice images. Thank you both very much indeed for posting. Kind Regards - David P.


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