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Mission San Francisco de Asis

Mission San Francisco de Asis

Author: Rachel Pope

History/Social Science Content Standards: 

4.2.3 Describe the Spanish exploration and colonization of California, including the relationships among soldiers, missionaries, and Indians (e.g., Juan Crespi, Junipero Serra, Gaspar de Portola).

4.2.5 Describe the daily lives of the people, native and nonnative, who occupied the presidios, missions, ranchos, and pueblos.

Grade Four

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            San Francisco de Asis is also called Mission Dolores. It is named after Saint Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan order in Italy. The mission was found in October 9, 1776 and is the sixth mission out of twenty one. The mission is located between San Rafael and Santa Clara. You can find the mission in San Francisco.

Establishment of the Mission

           The first site of the mission was too swampy and had harsh conditions. So in 1782, they built another church, but it took nine years to build it. The mission was founded by Padre Francisco Palou and Padre Benito Cambon. There are three bells in the entranceway of the mission that are hung by rawhide thongs. They are still used today. A basilica was built next to the mission church. A hospital was also built fifteen miles away because there were so many sick Indians. The hospital became Mission San Rafael. A dormitory for girls and single women was built and an irrigation ditch.

Life at the Mission

            The highest population at the mission was 1,807. There were many diseases at the mission brought by the Europeans. These diseases were measles, tuberculosis, and small pox. Over 5,000 Indians died and were buried in the mission cemetery. In 1832, the population was only 204 people. The Indian tribes that worked at the mission were the Ohlone, Miwok, and Patwin. The crops at the mission were wheat, barley, corn, beans, and peas. The mission had 20,000 cattle between 1803 to 1814. In 1832, had 9,518 cattle

            There was trading of hides and tallow sent from other missions. The trading was with ships from Spain and New England. The Indians lived at the mission. The Indian men took care of the crops and cattle. The Indian women were skilled in tanning the hide. They made weaved baskets and blankets.

            There were many Indians that ran away because they were treated very poorly by the first padres. The padres were very strict and only fed them dry grain. The Indians came back when new padres came.

            There was an Indian raid on August 12, 1776 by the rival Ssalon tribe. Many Indians were hurt and died. The Indians were defeated, made rafts, and hid in the mountains. There was marriage between the two Indian tribes on December 19, 1781 that ended the fighting.

            There was an earthquake in San Francisco during the year of 1906. The Indians built the mission so well out of adobe that it didn’t collapse. Unfortunately, the basilica next to it had to be rebuilt. Thirty hours after the earthquake in 1906 there was a great fire.

Role of the Mission Today

            San Francisco de Asis was a working mission for 58 years, but began to fall apart before that. In 1834, Mexico secularized the mission. This means that the mission was not controlled by Mexico or the Catholic Church. Some of the land was sold to Mexican citizens because the Indians could not afford to buy it. In 1845, no one wanted to buy the land and the Indians did not want to return. In 1857, the mission was returned to the Catholic Church by the United States.

            Today, the mission is still used as a church. The basilica next to it has even more church members and they attend mass. There is also tours of the church, basilica, and cemetery.

Unusual Facts about the Church

            Pope John Saint Paul II came to the mission to visit on September 17, 1987.