Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Haunted Missions of California

Haunted Mission San Miguel

 Mission San Miguel located north of San Luis Obispo along highway 101 not only has stories of ghosts, but also buried Treasure. Founded in 1797 the mission is located seven miles north of Paso Robles 
During the Mexican occupation of California, Pio Pico decided to sell and convert most of the missions in California. As a result, the mission was secularized in 1836 and on July 4th, 1846 Mission San Miguel was sold to a man named John (or William) Reed for the small sum of $250. It was the last mission to be sold, and three days later the Americans invaded Monterey, unfurling the American flag over the capitol.
As the gold rush was going on, a lot of precious metal was being shipped up and down the coast of California. Reed set up the mission as a Bed and Breakfast. He required that payment only be in gold, and thus amassed quite a small fortune, which he buried somewhere on the mission grounds. Rumors state that it was at the time worth about $200,000 in gold.
One night in 1848, he was boasting about his gold to the wrong people, some British pirates apparently who were staying at the Mission for the night. Although they left at first, the lure of Reeds gold caused them to eventually turn around and attack, killing everyone at the mission in their pursuit of the buried treasure. They never found it, and were later rounded up by a posse and executed.
The story is further revealed by the supposed account of one of the murderers, a man named Lynch. Apparently Lynch along with an Irishman killed and robbed two Americans of all the gold they were carrying. Three sailors that Lynch suspected of being deserters apparently joined the two murderers at La Soledad Mission. Additionally a Native American boy known as John also joined them, fleeing the mission. This group of outlaws eventually arrived at the San Miguel Mission and there sold their stolen gold to Reed for about seven dollars an ounce. Apparently Reed bragged to the entire group that he had more gold buried on his property than the Native American boy could lift. The group left in the morning after a staying the night in the mission, but soon returned to confront Reed. One of the men, named Barnberry struck Reed with an axe, after which John jumped up and stabbed Reed with a knife. The group then went through the Mission murdering the rest of the occupants.
All told, thirteen (some accounts say eleven, another states ten although Mrs. Reed was pregnant) people were brutally killed that day including Reed, his families, servants, and his guests. Left in a heap on the living room floor of the mission, they were all eventually discovered by a mail carrier and buried in one large communal grave.
The mission was returned to the Catholic Church by the United States government in 1859 although it wasn't until 1878 that a padre was finally sent to the mission. Legend has it that Reed and the other victims still haunt the mission as spirits. If the gold was ever found by anyone, it was never revealed to the public. The most common spirit that people see is of a woman in a white dress. Is this perhaps Mrs. Reed? A man in a blue peacoat has been seen as well and it is documented by the Indians from the mission that Mr. Reed always wore a blue peacoat. Additionally at least one psychic has had visions of blood and horrible feelings of murder while touring the site. Other ghosts, including one monk, have been seen roaming the Missions museums rooms. It is said that the ghosts of the Mission will not rest until they are moved from the communal grave.
Currently, the Mission is, except for the gift shop and one room, closed to the public while it undergoes restorations and repairs after the December 2003 earthquake that occurred only a few miles to the west. Hopefully soon it will reopen, but work goes slow as it is only financed by donations. When it does reopen, you should visit, tour the museum especially the cemetery, and perhaps run across poor Mr. and Mrs. Reed.

Pirate Ghosts of Mission San Miguel
 The old timers say that if by chance on certain dark nights, you are unfortunate or foolish enough to find yourself alone in the rooms of the oldest part the Mission you will hear the muffled screams of a young woman followed by noises of the ghosts of the murderers running and rummaging through the old Mission forever doomed to search for the hidden gold.
The old timers warn ...if your legs can move... you must run as fast as you can out of the old Mission, but beware! Because outside the Mission, the ghostly white figure of Mrs Reed covered in blood wanders the old Mission grounds, crying  for her murdered children. 

 Bloody History of Mission San Juan Capistrano
 In 1775, Father Junipero Serra convinced Spanish Captain Rivera that a new mission was needed to interrupt the long journey between San Diego and San Gabriel. On October 30, 1775, Father Fermin Lasuen founded San Juan Capistrano Mission, named for Saint John of Capistrano, Italy.
Just eight days later, word came that San Diego de Alcala was under attack and Indians had killed one of the fathers. The fathers immediately returned to San Diego, but first Father Lasuen buried the San Juan Capistrano Mission bells to keep them safe.
The following year, Father Junipero Serra returned to San Juan Capistrano Mission, dug up the bells, and re-founded it on November 1, 1776.
The local Indians, the Juaneno, were friendly and helped build the buildings and church. In 1777, an adobe church was built. In 1791, a bell tower was completed and the bells were moved from the tree where they had been hanging for 15 years.
 San Juan Capistrano Mission grew quickly and soon outgrew its small chapel. In 1797, a building that was to be the largest church in California was started. It was finished in 1806, and continued to grow. 1811 was the most successful year at San Juan Capistrano Mission, when it grew 500,000 pounds of wheat, 303,000 pounds of corn and had 14,000 cattle, 16,000 sheep and 740 horses.
In December, 1812 an earthquake destroyed the church at San Juan Capistrano Mission, killing 40 natives including two boys who were ringing the bells at the time. The church was not rebuilt.

In 1818, the pirate Bouchard attacked the California coast, supposedly in the name of a South American province that was rebelling against Spain. In truth, he used the revolution as an excuse to attack the California settlements. Padre Geronimo Boscano was warned of the pirate's approach and he gathered up the natives and fled. The Spanish guard tried to hold off the pirates but they only succeeded in causing greater damage in the end.


Ghosts of San Juan Capistrano Mission

There is a faceless monk who roams the back corridors at night, his sandals echoing through the stillness as he hurries away to melt into the shadows. There is a headless soldier, who stands guard near the garrison building, and the sound of bells that ring mysteriously in the night. One of the most poignant stories is about the ghost of Magdalena, a young girl who lost her life in the earthquake of 1812. She was a penitent that morning, holding a candle as she walked in front of her peers in the Great Stone Church. She must have heard the roar and felt the walls shake as the roof domes came crashing down on the worshippers. On nights with a fingernail moon, only her face is seen, illuminated by a candle in the highest windows of the ruins of the Church.

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