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In Search of the San Juan Bautista Mission Escolta

Renee Cannon presenting her Master's Thesis to Walter Gray.

Mission San Juan Bautista, in California's Coast Range between Missions Soledad and Santa Clara, was founded over 200 years ago on June 14, 1797. Although the Church and Convento of the old mission is owned by the Catholic Church and still in operation as an active parish, portions of the outlying areas around the mission are owned and operated by the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

Renee Cannon received her M.A. degree from Hayward State University in 2005.  The title of her new thesis is "Beneath the Plaza Hotel:  In Search of the San Juan Bautista Mission Escolta."  The thesis sheds light on a little studied aspect of the California missions, the "escolta"  or mission guard unit that would be assigned to each mission to help the priests keep control of the Indians. Renee's work will set the standard for this area of study.

Pictured is Renee Cannon and Cultural Resources Division Chief Walter Gray accepting her Master's thesis completed on the archaeological collection at San Juan Bautista Mission.

Small Wooden Animal from the San Juan Bautista "cuartel."

The artifacts recovered from under the Plaza Hotel which overlies the site of the Spanish/Mexican era cuartel  occupied by the escolta (soldiers) assigned to the mission San Juan Bautista highlight several facets of life in this mission community-turned-frontier crossroads.  Artifacts derived from the site of the old mission cuartel  take us back to the period from the late 1790s to the 1840s.  During the last half of the 19th century, the Plaza Hotel was a popular watering hole and inn.  It is the structure seen by today’s visitors to San Juan Bautista.  However, it was preceded by the soldier’s barracks, whose story is revealed in Ms. Cannon’s thesis.  For more information on the San Juan Bautista Escolta contact Ms. Cannon by email at renee.cannon@state.nm.us

                                        Ornate Glass Trade Bead                                          Ornate Glass Trade Bead artifact from the "cuartel."


  Gunflint for a flintlock rifle or pistol

Artifact: Gunflint for a flintlock rifle or pistol