Mission Santa Ines – Solvang, California

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Mission Santa Barbara is regal and grand. Mission La Purisima is gentle and serene. Tiny Mission Santa Ines lies quietly between the two.  It is as unlikely as the nearby Danish colony of Solvang.

On September 17, 1804, the “Mission of the Passes” became the 19th California Mission.

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Santa Ines was expected to become the most successful of the missions. Due to a series of unfortunate events, this did not happen.

First, the Hidalgo uprising of 1810, gave Mexico its independence from Spain. And then, the great earthquake of 1812 devastated all the missions. Finally, the secularization of 1834 did not give the new mission much time to live up to its promise. 

In the few years it did have, the mission saw over 1,000 baptisms and hundreds of marriages. It boasts some of the earliest industrial sites in California.

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Joseph Chapman was a craftsman from Maine.  In 1818 he sailed west to Hawaii. The Argentine pirate, Hippolyte de Bouchard, forced him into service on his crew.  When Bouchard stopped to raid the Ortega Ranch, near the mission, several crewmembers were captured as well as several soldiers. 

In the exchange of prisoners, Chapman was overlooked or refused and remained in the custody of the soldiers.  When the new governor discovered Chapman’s mechanical inclination and craftsmanship, he pardoned him. Chapman was turned over to the padres at Mission Santa Ines.

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Consequently, Chapman studied and embraced the Catholic faith. He went on to design and build a New England-style fulling mill, which the padres had long envisioned, for treating woolen cloth.  In addition, he married a daughter of the Ortega family, whose ranch he had helped to raid. They settled near the mission, continuing his work there. 

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La Purisima has had massive restoration due to federal and state funding. Yet, Mission Santa Ines has had to rely on the generosity of visitors and benefactors. It has been in continuous use, serving the surrounding community of Solvang, a Danish colony established over 100 years after the founding of the mission.

Danish settlers wanted to train young Danish Americans and preserve their lifestyle. The idea worked. Visitors to Solvang can marvel at Danish architecture, costume, handcrafts and hospitality while wandering the streets and cobblestone alleys of the town.  You might even catch some of the locals speaking the language.

For more information and to plan your pilgrimage:

Old Mission Santa Ines

1760 Mission Drive

Solvang, CA  93463

805-688-4815

www.missionsantaines.org

Resources:

Pierce Brothers Mission Series

www.missionsantaines.org

www.sbthp.org/mills.htm

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