Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/489

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
473
MISSIONS AND MISSION INDIANS OF CALIFORNIA.

to be rid either of vermin or filth, as the idea of cleanliness for the sake of cleanliness is foreign to the savage mind. Constant residence in one spot, under such conditions as Vancouver and others described, had its legitimate effect upon the health of the neophytes, as we shall see.

In these huts lived the married only; the unmarried were domiciled in separate buildings, usually directly under the eyes of the missionaries, where they were locked up at night, each sex separate. The unmarried women also worked separately, and always under supervision.

When the missions were first established, the good fathers, as a rule, experienced little difficulty in securing converts. Kind words, and the gifts the Indians received in the shape of food and clothing, proved an efficient means of conversion, and they were baptized in gratifying numbers. Converts were encouraged to visit their wild brethren at home, and by flattering accounts of mission life induced many to return with them. As neophytes grew scarce, the area from which they were drawn was extended, and a greater or less number of recruits was obtained from the distant interior tribes. Later, such means proved unavailing, and other and more questionable methods were resorted to. Upon one pretext or another, armed soldiers and armed converts were sent out who frequently returned with a goodly number of captives; and, for two reasons, these were mostly women and children: first, because they were preferred, since the husbands frequently followed them into captivity; and, secondly, because in the conflicts which preceded the capture of the wives and children many of the men were killed and the rest driven away. In these conflicts the wounded appear to have received little mercy. Beechey witnessed the tragical issue of one of these holiday excursions by the neophytes of the mission of San José, and we are indebted to him for the details. An armed launch had been placed in charge of an alcalde of the mission, who while on the trip planned an attack upon the Cosemenes of the San Joaquin, either directly for the purpose of securing converts or in revenge for some aggression. While in camp near the village they intended to attack, the neophyte party was surprised by the Cosemenes, and thirty-four were killed or taken captive. In this case apparently the alcalde acted without authority, and doubtless without knowledge or connivance on the part of the priests. However, when the news reached the mission it was thought necessary to strike terror into the victorious tribe, and accordingly an expedition was sent against them. The result was that forty men, women, and children were killed and forty women and children were captured and brought back to the mission. Thus the loss of the converts was more than made good, the surrounding tribes were in