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The Misión San Francisco de Asis also known as Mission Dolores was founded in June of 1776. It started off as a settlement named for St. Francis of Assisi who was the founder of the Franciscan Order. The name Mission Dolores derives from a nearby creek which at the time was called Arroyo de Los Dolores or in English the "Creek of Sorrows".

The mission has a very unique history as it afterall the oldest intact building found in the City of San Francisco today and the only intact Mission Chapel in the Cahin of 21 of them established under the direction of Father Serra. It also is the site of San Francisco's oldest cemetery at least that remains within the city limits. The cemetery itself is the final resting place for Miwoks, Patwins, Ohlone's and first Californians who pioneered their way into the west.

Today the cemetery is flourishing with rose gardens, shrubs, flowers, traditional native trees, native American plants and even an Ohlone Indian botanic garden all from the 1791 time period. I have read that at least 5,000 Ohlone, Patwins, Miwok and Pioneers who built the mission are all buried here. Sadly today the cemetery has been reduced to a mere couple hundred grave stones which either means that buildings were built over the land which contained these graves or some of the interments may have been moved elsewhere. At one time when the region was first settled there were creeks, mountains and grassy fields. Eventually the city of San Francisco consumed everything surrounding the mission including the cemetery which resides next to the mission itself.

Other notable burials found within the cemetery are the first Mexican Governor Luis Antonio Arguello, first commandant of the Presidio Lieutenant Moraga, Victims of the Committee of Vigilance named Cora, Casey and Sullivan. Some of the graves found within the cemetery have marker dates dating back to the late 1700's but many of them are from the earlier 1800's making it one of the most significant burial grounds found in the state of California.

In 1776 Lieutenant Jose Morago also mentioned above came to the San Francisco Bay area with a band of 16 soldiers and small group of colonists. The party included the children and wives of the soldiers as well as some Spanish-American settlers. It would only take them four days to get to the Bay area from Monterey Presidio so the journey was relatively easy. These early explorers also brought along with 200 cattle and enough supplies to create a new settlement as a ship followed them by the name of San Carlos.

When they arrived here the land was full of fauna and pristine grassy knolls. Two fathers also traveled along by the name of Francisco Palou and Pedro Cambon. The first settlement that was founded was just a small camp on a bank of a lake which was discovered prior by an explorer named de Anza which he called Laguna de Nuestra Senora de Los Dolores meaning in English Lake of our Lady of Sorrows. It also appeared that the creek which ran from the lake received a similar name as I mentioned earlier above. Sadly today such lakes and creeks are no longer in existence in San Francisco. As the city was built hills and creeks were devoured by this metropolis. But if you were to visit San Francisco three hundred years ago it would have looked like gods country.

The commander from Presidio had ordered an arbor to be constructed and both of the fathers celebrated their first mass on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. The clerics in Mexico later promised Father Serra that he could name the newest mission after his patron saint if his saint found a port. The region had one which is known today as bay which would make a very valuable sea port. The name Saint Francis stuck which today is called San Francisco Bay. Father Serra called the Mission "Dolores" which was formed from the nearby creek and lake where the first encampment had began.

San Calos would arrive bringing in supplies such as food, cattle, goods and materials to build the mission. Although the mission was built right away dedication was postponed as for many weeks word was not heard from Captain Rivera who was against building the mission here. However the Viceroy in Mexico City felt the opposite and once the father received the necessary documents they went ahead dedicating the mission. Some say June 26th is the official date when Father Palao held his feast days prior to the signing of the Declaration Of Independence while others say it is October 9th when the mission was built. Nobody knows for certain but I can imagine the founding date would be in June of 1776 when the first arrived here to preach and practice their word of god on these shores.

The mission offered food and protection for the natives such as the Miwok's, Patwins and Ohlone's. The Spaniards came to the area through the bay some of them went as far east as states such as Utah and Nevada seeking its wealth of gold. As far as the mission went the natives built their villages, huts and community surrounding the mission. The problem was is the language barriers not all the natives could understand the Spaniards theological views while others felt they were being treated harshly. Some ran away while other natives gave into temptations from the local presidio and across the bay. Temptations such as drinking, gambling and other practices that the church found sinful the natives took a high interest in. Many of those natives ran away from the mission and the military at times had to retrieve them while eventually tensions grew the chapel had to be relocated several times. Finally in 1791 the Mission you are currently viewing throughout our pages became its final resting place.

Then the early 1800's rolled around at least over 1000 natives surrounded the mission. Their were many ranches, farms and communities which eventually became the city of San Francisco you see today. Alone the mission owned thousands of cows, sheep, horses, pigs, mules and goats. Their was also hotels, schools and manufacturing companies being built. Natives including many Mexican immigrants poured in the area so these things were necessary all at the same time the church could have influence over all of them. The mission didn't just expand into the bay area its holdings were have been rumored to have spread over a 100 mile away.

Allot of other missions spread throughout the area two of them were where Father Junipero Serra officiated at one being the Mission Chapel the other being the Mission San Juan Capistrano the only surviving buildings today. However these were Mexican government formed missions which had no idea what was to come. The Mexican War Of Independence which lasted from 1810 to about 1821 strained relations eventually with California Missions. The spread of such missions were halted by the government as they were no longer providing aid the natives which caused a lack in provisions for the natives which includes medicine. By the 1830's the Mexican Government began to cut their ties to expanding anymore in the state of California not just due to the war but also due to the fact that it was very costly for them.

Going back just a little in 1817 another Mission called San Rafael Arcángel was established as an asistencia to act as a hospital for the mission locally. It would be later in 1922 not just a hospital but a full mission. Hospitals had to be established because many new diseases were brought in from the immigrants who came to California. The Miwoks, Patwins and Ohlone's were exposed to new viruses and bacteria's which more then often ended up killing them. This is why so many of the natives dwindled in numbers as they did not have proper medicine so many died at these missions which is the reason behind Mission Dolores at one time having so many burials here. However many of the missions were eventually not deemed necessary with numbers dwindling and a city expanding many were torn down to make room for the mega-metropolis you know as San Francisco.

In the 1830's hard times fell upon the mission as people began to call it Mission Dolores after the nearby creek and lagoon. It also was called this to differentiate it from the San Francisco Solano. By the mid 1830's the Mexico government decided to close the mission and all the other ones that were being built throughout the region. They had hoped to sell the land for profit and the mission would be the first to be securlized probably due to the war. Allot of the land deeds were sold to private ranchers and owners in the region reducing the missions size considerably.

What boomed to 5000 natives dwindled to a mere 8 Christians residing at the mission in 1842. Most of the natives suffered from diseases and cultural differences. Also since the Mexican government began to cut its ties to the missions in California provisions became a harder commodity to come by. Most of the natives did not want to be part of the mission some ran away some continued to practice their ancient beliefs. While others left to seek out a better life as food was becoming more scarce in the region due to the fact that many private owners rather then the mission grew their own crops.

Nobody would be interested in purchasing the mission nor the land around it thus it was property of the Mexican Government up until 1846 when the state of California became part of the United States. By the time all that really remained was the gardens, cemetery and chapel. What this meant is an opportunity for the American Christian Clergy to take it over and began a new age for the dying Mission.

By 1849 many immigrants came from overseas through the golden gate it was called this because of the gold rush. The gate was the small entrance of water that separated the bay from the Pacific Ocean. This is how the Golden Gate Bridge received its name eventually. Most of the immigrants had one desire and one desire only which was to seek the gold of the west and to partake in sinful pleasures that they could not find in their homelands. The area surrounding the Mission became a place for gambling, drinking, horse racing, bordellos, bear and bullfights.

Allot of the land reforms took the land away from many of the private owners to build the San Francisco you see today. Most of the imigrants were Irish which outgrew the Spanish grave markers found in the old cemetery you see today. Some land was leased to build gambling halls and saloons. While other land was used to build race tracks for horses or arenas for animals to battle one another. You can only imagine that the port of San Francisco grew immensely by the day bringing in thousands of new immigrants from all over the world. The area surrounding the mission became the resort and entertainment district.

Despite all the construction surrounding the mission it did began to undergo many new changes of its own; for example part of the convento was converted into a two story wooden wing to be used as a seminary and priest's quarters. Next to that a structure called the "Mansion House" was constructed. This was used as a way station for travelers and tavern for those who wished to visit the mission. Since the chapel of the mission was rather small the needs of the immigrants would be met when a Gothic Revival brick Church would be designed and built to provide the large population of immigrants who were making this area their home. The mansion house which was part of the convento was razed in 1876 and thus the church was built in its stead. You can actually see some old B&W photos I posted below on this page of this massive church although some may call it a cathedral considering its extremely high vaulted ceilings it eventually would suffer from collapse in the earthquake of 1906.

Prior to the earthquake of 1906 when the American clergy had taken it over they applied wood clapboard siding tot he original adobe chapel walls for cosmetic purposes and protection. It was obvious that the locals of the parish were well aware that tremors took place on occasion in the region so they worked hard at re enforcing the mission you see today. When the quake struck it did damage the adobe mission mildly as fires would reach its doorsteps. Strangely flames consumed nearly everything surrounding the mission but the mission itself. Some say its a miracle however more then likely due to the firefighters dynamiting the School of Notre Dame and the Missions Convent it may have caused the fire to spread any further thus saving Mission Dolores. However the Gothic Revival Church which sits adjacent to the mission was not as lucky. Its massive bell tower came crashing down into the sanctuary and by 1913 in its place the Mission Dolores Basilica would began to be built.

The basilica project would be completed by 1918 and by 1952 Pope Pius XII had elevated Mission Dolores to the status of Minor Basilica. This would be the first designation of a basilica west of the Mississippi and the fifth in the United States. Today it is called the Mission Dolores Basilica which is more frequently used then its former predecessor next door called "Mission Dolores" made out of adobe. Although services take place such as funerals, weddings and baptisms in both the Basilica today gets more usage. Today on the grounds one can tour the historic cemetery, gardens, Mission Dolores Chapel, Museum and its monolithic Basilica! The Basilica was remodeled in the 1920s with a churriguerestque ornamentation with other amazing architectural features that can be found in its steeples and surrounding the entire Basilica so make sure you check out all our photos so that you can enjoy it as we have.

I am 100 percent convinced that the entire site is haunted not just due to its long history of funerals and events. But lets look at the facts by 1889 the cemetery began to be reduced to expand 16th street which today would have run through the cemetery. Rather then just build a road through a portion of the cemetery or even go around it they decided to just remove its interments all completely. Then in the 1950's when the Dolores Basilica Center and Chancery Building of the Archdiocese of San Francisco were built this also caused a greater reduction in size to the cemetery. Then finally the Mission Dolores school and playground were built. The playground behind the mission is a large paved area for children to play. At one time this paved area was also part of the cemetery. I wonder if parents are aware of this dark history as children laugh and play dancing on what once was grave sites. If you listen to my EVP's you will hear children laughing and playing as we capture EVP's from the beyond. Perhaps these are spirits calling out to us hoping to never be forgotten.

I know for a fact that some of the interments were relocated to other local cemeteries while some remains were just reburied on site in a mass grave. Thus other buildings, homes and structures today were built over these remains. It would be a no brainer that its ghosts would haunt allot of the sites including the Mission itself. Perhaps this may be due to the desecration of its burial grounds or maybe due to the fact that all some ghost want to be is remembered. Most of the interments were native Americans and it saddens me how their remains were treated just to expand a few roads or to expand the Basilica. Thus ironically the church is somewhat responsible for the desecration of its graves whether they will admit that or not they are no greater of a sinner then you or I! Although as a paranormal investigator I cannot judge only speculate and theorize why a place is haunted or how it can become a site of haunting's!

Further below we have posted other articles in relation to this amazing historical site we strongly encourage you to enjoy the photo galleries, videos, evidence and its history. I had chosen the Mission as my first investigation in San Francisco due to its amazing history and compiling theories due to some of its darker history which very few are aware of. We do encourage you to support Mission Delores no matter what faith you are by visiting their website or donating towards their museum by taking a tour at: Click Here: Mission Dolores So that you can enjoy this theological wonder the same way we did just as Pope John Paul II did also!

Copyright By
Lord Rick
Author, Producer and Talk Show Host





This mission in the 1850s

Mission in the later 1800s no walls just wood fences surrounded it! Also notice to the left is the cemetery which extended beyond the mission which today where 16th street is. 

A better view of the cemetery next to the mission and old gothic revival cathedral which is adjoined to the mission. Where the children are standing was once part of the cemetery which had been reduced. 

Another great photo taken just prior to the great 1906 quake of the massive church which towered over Mission Delores below.

In the 1906 great quake of San Francisco tragedy struck. The mission remained standing however the cahtedral roof began to collapse along with the bell tower which fell down into the sanctuary.

After the quake the cahtedral began to topple upon itself leaving only the wood frame of the triangular wood roof which once graced the sanctuary below. All that remained are a few walls which gave it an ancient temple feeling deteriorating in the winds of time.

This was taken in the mid 1900's you can clearly see the Cemetery, Mission Delores and the Basilica behind it which was built to replace the cathedral which fell to the quake of 1906. The cemetery is the oldest of its kind in San Francisco containing some of its earliest pioneers who came to the area to convert the natives theorligical ways of thinking before San Francisco even became a full fledged city that it is today.

Mission San Francisco de Asís

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mission San Francisco de Asís, or Mission Dolores, is the oldest surviving structure in San Francisco and the sixth religious settlement established as part of the California chain of missions. The Mission was founded on June 29, 1776, by Lieutenant José Joaquin Moraga and Father Francisco Palóu (a companion of Father Junipero Serra), both members of the de Anza Expedition, which had been charged with bringing Spanish settlers to Alta (upper) California, and evangelizing the local Natives, the Ohlone.


The settlement was named for St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan Order, but was also commonly known as "Mission Dolores" owing to the presence of a nearby creek named Arroyo de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, meaning "Our Lady of Sorrows Creek." and which runs now under the 16th street of present San Francisco. A member of the Anza Expedition, Friar Font, wrote about the spot chosen for the Mission:

We rode about one league to the east [from the Presidio], one to the east-southeast, and one to the southeast, going over hills covered with bushes, and over valleys of good land. We thus came upon two lagoons and several springs of good water, meanwhile encountering much grass, fennel and other good herbs. When we arrived at a lovely creek, which because it was the Friday of Sorrows [that Friday before Palm Sunday], the 3rd of April 1776, we called the [creek] Arroyo de los Dolores ... On the banks of the Arroyo ... we discovered many fragrant chamomiles and other herbs, and many wild violets. Near the streamlet the lieutenant planted a little corn and some garbanzos in order to try out the soil, which to us appeared good.[11]

The original Mission consisted of a log and thatch structure dedicated on October 9, 1776 after the required church documents arrived. It was located about a block-and-a-half east of the present Mission, near what is today the intersection of Camp and Albion Streets, according to most source on the shores of a lake (long since filled) called Lago de los Dolores.[4] A historical marker is currently placed at that location which depicts the lake. The existence of the lake is disputed by creek geologists Janet Sowers and Christopher Richard, who propose the legend to be a result of misunderstanding of the 1776 writings of Juan Bautista de Anza. According to the hydrological map they prepared in 2011, there were only creeks in the area.[12]

The present Mission church was dedicated in 1791. At the time of dedication a mural painted by native labor adorned the focal wall of the chapel. The mission was constructed of adobe and part of a complex of buildings used for housing, agricultural and manufacturing enterprises (see architecture of the California missions). Though most of the Mission complex, including the quadrangle and convento, has either been altered or demolished outright during the intervening years, the façade of the Mission chapel has remained relatively unchanged since its construction in 1782–1791.

According to Mission historian Brother Guire Cleary, the early 19th century saw the greatest period of activity at San Francisco de Asís:

At its peak in 1810-1820, the average Indian population at Pueblo Dolores was about 1,100 persons. The California missions were not only houses of worship. They were farming communities, manufacturers of all sorts of products, hotels, ranches, hospitals, schools, and the centers of the largest communities in the state...in 1810 the Mission owned 11,000 sheep, 11,000 cows, and thousands of horses, goats, pigs, and mules. Its ranching and farming operations extended as far south as San Mateo and east to Alameda. Horses were corralled on Potrero Hill, and the milking sheds for the cows were located along Dolores Creek at what is today Mission High School. Twenty looms were kept in operation to process wool into cloth. The circumference of the mission's holdings were said to have been about 125 miles.[13]

The Mission chapel, along with "Father Serra's Church" at Mission San Juan Capistrano, is one of only two surviving buildings where Father Junípero Serra is known to have officiated (although "Dolores" was still under construction at the time of Serra's visit). In 1817, Mission San Rafael Arcángel was established as an asistencia to act as a hospital for the Mission, though it would later be granted full mission status in 1822. The Mexican War of Independence (1810–1821) strained relations between the Mexican government and the California missions. Supplies were scant, and the Indians who worked at the missions continued to suffer terrible losses from disease and cultural disruption (more than 5,000 Indians are thought to have been buried in the cemetery adjacent to the Mission). In 1834, the Mexican government enacted secularization laws whereby most church property was sold or granted to private owners. In practical terms, this meant that the missions would hold title only to the churches, the residences of the priests and a small amount of land surrounding the church for use as gardens. In the period that followed, Mission Dolores fell on very hard times. By 1842, only eight Christian Indians were living at the Mission.[13]

The California Gold Rush brought renewed activity to the Mission Dolores area. In the 1850s, two plank roads were constructed from what is today downtown San Francisco to the Mission, and the entire area became a popular resort and entertainment district.[14] Some of the Mission properties were sold or leased for use as saloons and gambling halls, racetracks were constructed, and fights between bulls and bears were staged for crowds. The Mission complex also underwent alterations. Part of the convento was converted to a two-story wooden wing for use as a seminary and priests' quarters, while another section became the "Mansion House," a popular tavern and way station for travelers.[15] By 1876, the Mansion House portion of the convento had been razed and replaced with a large Gothic Revival brick church, designed to serve the growing population of immigrants who were now making the Mission area their home.

During this period, wood clapboard siding was applied to the original adobe chapel walls as both a cosmetic and a protective measure; the veneer was later removed when the Mission was restored. During the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the adjacent brick church was destroyed. By contrast, the original adobe Mission, though damaged, remained in relatively good condition. However, the ensuing fire touched off by the earthquake reached almost to the Mission's doorstep. To prevent the spread of flames, the Convent and School of Notre Dame across the street was dynamited by firefighters; nevertheless, nearly all the blocks east of Dolores Street and north of 20th street were consumed by flames. In 1913, construction began on a new church (now known as the Mission Dolores Basilica) adjacent to the Mission, which was completed in 1918. This structure was further remodeled in 1926 with churrigueresque ornamentation inspired by the Panama-California Exposition held in San Diego's Balboa Park. A sensitive restoration of the original adobe Mission was undertaken in 1917 by noted architect Willis Polk. In 1952, San Francisco Archbishop John J. Mitty, announced that Pope Pius XII had elevated Mission Dolores to the status of a Minor Basilica. This was the first designation of a basilica west of the Mississippi and the fifth basilica named in the United States. Today, the larger, newer church is called "Mission Dolores Basilica" while the original adobe structure retains the name of Mission Dolores.

The San Francisco de Asís cemetery, which adjoins the property on the south side, was originally much larger than its present boundaries, running west almost to Church Street and north into what is today 16th Street. It was reduced in various stages, starting with the extension of 16th Street through the former Mission grounds in 1889, and later by the construction of the Mission Dolores Basilica Center and the Chancery Building of the Archdiocese of San Francisco in the 1950s. Some remains were reburied on-site in a mass grave, while others were relocated to various Bay Area cemeteries. Today, most of the former cemetery grounds are covered by a paved playground behind the Mission Dolores School. The cemetery that currently remains underwent a careful restoration in the mid-1990s. The Mission is still an active church in San Francisco. Many people attend services in the Mission church and even more attend mass in the adjacent basilica. The Mission is open to visitors, and is located on Dolores Street near its intersection with 16th Street. The Mission District is the name of the San Francisco neighborhood adjacent to the Mission. The current Pastor of Mission Dolores is Reverend Arturo Albano. The current Curator of Mission Dolores is Andrew A. Galvan.

Mission Dolores (San Francisco de Asis)

History of Mission Dolores

By , About.com Guide

(c) Betsy Malloy 2002
On June 17, 1776, Lieutenant Jose Moraga, 16 soldiers and small group of colonists left the Monterey Presidio for San Francisco Bay. The party included wives and children of the soldiers, as well as some Spanish-American settlers. They brought about 200 head of cattle along. Most of the supplies for the new settlements were sent by sea in the ship San Carlos, which left at the same time as the land party.

Among the travelers were Fathers Francisco Palou and Pedro Cambon. It was a four day journey. When they arrived, they set up a camp on the bank of a lake, originally discovered by the explorer de Anza and named Laguna de Nuestra Senora de los Dolores (Lake of our Lady of Sorrows).

The commander ordered an arbor to be constructed, and the Fathers celebrated the first mass on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, June 27, 1776 - just five days before the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia. The Mexican authorities had promised Father Serra that he could name the newest in the chain after his patron saint if his saint found a port. This location had one, so it was named after Saint Francis. However, it later came to be called Mission Dolores instead.

On August 18, the ship San Carlos arrived. Construction of Mission Dolores began immediately. Dedication was postponed while the Fathers awaited word from Captain Rivera. Rivera, didn't want to build Mission Dolores, but his superior the Viceroy in Mexico City disagreed. The Fathers waited for weeks to hear from Rivera, but finally decided to go ahead with the dedication on October 9, after receiving the needed church documents. Some say this date is the official date of the founding, and it is the date that Father Palao recorded in the church records. However, many use the June 26 date.

Early Years of Mission Dolores

Mission Dolores soon became popular with the natives of the area, who enjoyed the food and protection it offered. Some say they did not understand the Spaniards' complex religious ideas, while others say the priests were too harsh and strict with them. Whatever the reason, many of them ran away from Mission Dolores (200 in 1796 alone). The problem with runaways was worse here, where the natives had many temptations from the nearby presidio as well as other natives across the bay. Runaways also caused tensions with the military, who grew tired of going out to retrieve them.

After moving the Mission Dolores church several times, the current chapel was built and completed in 1791.

Mission Dolores 1800-1820

The damp weather and diseases carried by the foreigners took their toll on the native population, and 5,000 of them died during a measles epidemic. Those who survived suffered in the damp climate, and the priests wanted to find a better place for them to recover. In 1817, the Fathers opened a hospital in San Rafael, north of the bay, where the weather was better.

Mission Dolores in the 1820s-1830s

In the 1830s, the place began to be called Mission Dolores, after the nearby creek and lagoon, and also to differentiate it from San Francisco Solano.

Secularization and Mission Dolores

In 1834, Mexico decided to close Mission Dolores and all the others, and sell the land. Mission Dolores was the first to be secularized. The Indians did not want to come back, and no one would buy it, so it remained the property of the Mexican government. In 1846, California became part of the United States, and American priests took over.

When the California Gold Rush began in 1849, the area became a popular place for horse racing, gambling and drinking. Land reforms took the land away, and soon there were more Irish than Spanish grave markers in the old cemetery.

Mission Dolores in the 20th Century

The area is now the center of the city's Hispanic population, and the old Mission Dolores building is surrounded by the city. The church and its cemetery are all that survive of the original complex, but it continues to serve the people of the neighborhood and masses are held in it. However, most services are held in the newer basilica next door.

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