SAN FERNANDO MISSION
15151 San Fernando Mission Blvd., Mission Hills, CA 91345,
Mission San Fernando was built in the Valley of Encino, or Oaks.
It grew to be one of the largest and longest missions.
Shortly after the founding of Los Angeles on September 4, 1781,
Francisco Reyes, the alcalde or mayor of that newly established
pueblo, acquired the right to raise cattle in the San Fernando
Using local Indian labor, Reyes centered his cattle raising
operation near a well-watered place close to the northern edge
of the Valley. A few years later, the Franciscan padres chose
Reyes' land as the site for a new mission, half way between the
Gabriel and the Ventura missions. For giving up his use of
land in the north of the Valley, Reyes received 4,460 acres --later
known as the Encino Rancho, located along what became called
the El Camino Real and much later, Ventura Boulevard.
On September 8, 1797, Father Fermin Lasuen, successor to the
legendary Franciscan leader Junipero Serra, dedicated the San
Fernando Mission. On that day, the priests baptized five Indian
boys and five Indian girls. It was a beginning, and within twenty
years, over 1,000 Indians lived and worked within the authority
of the mission. At the height of its activity, the San Fernando
Mission Indians created one of the most prosperous of all the
California missions. The great number of cattle required that
the Indians become expert vaqueros, or cowhands. Many others became
skilled at farming, wine making, metal working and
numerous additional crafts necessary to support and house the
But the Valley's mission period lasted for less than 40 years,
and even at that, the good years of mission life for the Indians
very few. As was true with most of the missions in California,
the Valley Indians did not themselves prosper under mission control.
Beginning in the 1830s, Californian officials started secularizing
the missions. Secularization meant the confiscation and seizure
the vast and generally prosperous mission lands, though the buildings
themselves were usually allowed to remain under the control
of the Church. During this period of secularization, from 1834-1836,
most of those Indians who still remained at the San
Fernando Mission were evicted. Many sought employment in Los
Angeles; some joined relatives and friends among those Indians
still living free in the hills or in other valleys.
With the confiscation of the mission lands and the dispossession
of the Indians, the struggle between northern and southern
Californians intensified. As part of this struggle, the little
known Battle of Cahuenga took place in February, 1845. Two armed
groups of about 400 each met near Cahuenga Pass. One side had
three small cannons; the other side, two. After shooting at each
other for half a day, the casualties amounted to two horses killed
on one side and a mule wounded on the other. Apparently that
was enough. The northerners retired, and Pio Pico became the
new governor of California, with Los Angeles as the new capital.
Before the year ended, Governor Pico arranged a nine-year lease
of the San Fernando Mission lands to his brother Andres Pico,
for $1200 a year. And thus began the short-lived era of the San
Fernando Valley Dons.
Source: The following was borrowed from a document called "Making
History: A Chronicle of the Valley's Past" by Lawrence C.