(by Gary Carlsen, from a column written for the MoCoGenSo Newsletter from 1997-1999)
Much has been written about the mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmel which lies in Monterey County, and was the second of the twenty-one missions started by Father Serra. Two other missions also lie in Monterey County, and though not as well portrayed, played an important part in the settling of Alta California.
Mission San Antonio de Padua was the third mission, founded July 14, 1771, and named for St. Anthony. The mission moved to its present site off U. S. Highway 101, 27 miles northwest of Bradley, and 23 miles southwest of King City. The adobe church was completed in 1782, and the present building was begun in 1810. Completed in 1813 the mission was secularized in 1834. and offered for sale in 1845, but there were no takers. The mission was abandoned from 1822 to 1928 and has been restored twice in 1907 and 1948.
Nuestra Senora de la Soledad located one mile west of Highway 101, 3 miles south of the town of Soledad, was the thirteenth mission founded on October 9. 1791 by Fr. Fermin Lasuen. Named for Our Lady of Solitude, the first church of thatched-roofed adobe was completed in 1797. It was enlarged in 1805 and collapsed in 1831. The present chapel was built in 1832, secularized in 1835, and restored in 1854. In 1846 the mission was sold but returned to the Church in 1959.
While making a tour of the missions in 1814 Jose Joaquin de Arrillaga, the first Spanish governor of Alta California died at Soledad and was buried beneath the church floor. When the church was destroyed by a flood, his grave was obliterated and was only recently discovered during excavations prior to the present reconstruction.
Both missions are currently serving as remembrances of time long past, and open to the public. They house many replicas of early mission life, and the way things once were.