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My grandmother, my brother and I at a mission during our trip in 2012

The California Missions were a group of missions that were founded from 1769 to 1823. I have seen many of them myself since I live in California, and even went on a trip to see the missions. There are 21 of them, and they have a very important part in history.

The first mission established was Mission San Diego de Alcala in 1769. All of the missions were built by Franciscan monks, one of which was Junipero Serra, credited as the founder of the earliest of the missions. The main purpose of the missions was to convert Native Americans to Christianity, for the missions were indeed religious establishments. Spain was the nation that had authorized its creation.

Harder times were ahead for these missions. In 1822 Mexico was proclaimed independent of Spain, and therefore the missions became part of Mexico. The last mission was founded in 1823, long after the death of Serra, and plans for a twenty second mission were soon canceled. Shortly afterward, the Ranchos took over. In 1834, Mexico officially disestablished all 21 missions and gave their property to the highest bidder. The new land owners weren’t always kind to the recently-converted Christian natives; some were even purposely starved to death. This was the mission’s darkest times.

In 1848, California, and the missions, became part of the United States of America. Since then, most of the decayed buildings in the missions have been restored, basically re-creating the missions. Gift shops have been established, and some of the missions even have tours now. There was much to restore, but restore it the United States did. Now everyone can enjoy these significant landmarks in North American history, just like I did.