Santa Margarita de Cortona Asistencia
Misión de Santa Margarita by Henry Chapman Ford, 1881
|Location||Santa Margarita, California|
|Name as founded||Asistencia de la Misión de San Luis, Obispo de Tolosa |
|English translation||Sub-Mission to the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa|
|Patron||Saint Margaret of Lavinio and Cortona, Italy |
|Nickname(s)||"San Luis Obispo County's Third Mission"|
|Founding date||1787 |
|Native place name(s)||Trolole |
|Governing body||Private entity|
|California Historical Landmark|
The Santa Margarita de Cortona Asistencia  was established in 1787 as an asistencia ("sub-mission") to Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa to minister to the large number of Salinan (Obispeño) Indians who inhabited the area. Named for an Italian saint, the settlement was located on the other side of Cuesta Grade (north of San Luis Obispo) on a site selected by Father Presidente Junípero Serra in 1772. The facility also served as an outpost, chapel, and storehouse. Additionally, the Mission padres and Indians conducted extensive grain cultivation. The chapel building measured some 120 by 20 feet and eight auxiliary rooms for the use of the majordomo and his servants, and as quarters for visiting priests. One chamber functioned as a granary for storing mission crops.
On November 20, 1818 French privateer Hipólito Bouchard raided the Presidio of Monterey in Monterey, California and threatened the nearby Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo; many residents sought refuge at this site.
The Santa Margarita Asistencia was secularized along with Mission San Luis Obispo in 1835, and suffered the same neglect that many mission properties did after that time. In 1841, the Rancho Santa Margarita land grant, was made to Joaquín Estrada. After the American takeover at Monterey in 1841, General Pío Pico and General José Castro met at the rancho to discuss strategy. During the 1846 Bear Flag Revolt, the forces of Captain John C. Frémont captured an Indian bearing a message from Jose Jesus Pico (the San Luis Obispo Justice of the Peace) at the rancho and ordered his execution. In December of that year Frémont also arrested Estrada and others at the rancho, releasing them only after securing their pledges of service to Frémont.
Estrada sold the rancho in 1861 to Mary and Martin Murphy Jr.,who had come to California with the Stephens-Townsend-Murphy Party in 1844. The Murphys turned over running of the rancho (along with the adjacent Rancho Atascadero and Rancho Asuncion they owned) to their son Patrick W. Murphy, who served in the California Assembly and the California State Senate, and who was a General in the California National Guard. Murphy erected a barn over the Asistencia to shield it from the elements.
In February, 1889 the town of Santa Margarita was incorporated. Several of the original stone walls remain standing, having been incorporated into a ranch barn. The fact that the Asistencia is situated on private land makes public viewing, photography, and study problematic at best.
- Ruscin, p. 59
- Santa Margarita Historical Society
- Ruscin, p. 195
- Jones, Terry L. and Kathryn A. Klar (eds.) (2007). California Prehistory: Colonization, Culture, and Complexity. Altimira Press, Landham, MD. ISBN 0-7591-0872-2.
- Paddison, Joshua (ed.) (1999). A World Transformed: Firsthand Accounts of California Before the Gold Rush. Heyday Books, Berkeley, CA. ISBN 1-890771-13-9.
- Ruscin, Terry (1999). Mission Memoirs. Sunbelt Publications, San Diego, CA. ISBN 0-932653-30-8.
- "Mission Days: The Mission Rancho (1775-1841)". Santa Margarita Historical Society. Retrieved July 7, 2007.