Time Jockey – On the Road to San Miguel – By Joe Castillo
Cemetery Search….My latest adventure took me to the Central Coast of California and the small town of San Miguel in search of pioneer cemeteries. The San Miguel District Cemetery was founded in July 1875 when Ella Montgomery was the first person interred in the cemetery. The arrival of the railroad to the sleepy Mission town saw an increase in the cattle and produce business bringing in more and more settlers. The increase in population naturally resulted in more deaths and funerals. As more people were interred, the cemetery was sectioned off with Catholics buried in the northeast section and everyone else was buried in the southeast section. Some of the oddities include the gravesite of Corina Stanghel, who was buried half in the cemetery and half out. Stanghel was a non-Catholic and the church practice indicated that she needed to be buried in this manner. A celebrity of sorts exists in the cemetery in the person of William Antrim 1842 – 1922, who was reported to be Billy the Kids’ stepfather. His grave is marked by a large marble monument in the Protestant section of the cemetery. Even though there weren’t a lot of mysteries at this cemetery, you just never know what one may find. It should be noted that the first sign I read at San Miguel District Cemetery was ‘Watch out for Rattlesnakes’….. San Miguel the Arcangel…. Mission San Miguel has a beautiful museum with artifacts you don’t see at any other California Mission. One of the more interesting artifacts is a hand-carved life-size wooden poly-chrome statue of San Miguel conquering the devil. The statue was carved in the 17th or 18th century but the artist is unknown. It was donated to the Mission by Raymond Gould of Los Angeles after his death in 1943. His will directed his estate to donate the statue to Mission San Miguel and in 1944, is sister Mabel brought the statue to the Mission. It was been preserved in protective oils and stands over five feet tall. San Miguel is standing over a fallen devil with his sword ready to descend upon his captured nemesis. San Miguels’ clothing, shield and wings are expertly carved and designed and the image of the devil is enough to send chills through you. … El Camino Real Cross….. The King’s Highway was the trail and later road which connected all the California Missions together. In the beginning, the path was marked by a cross carved into the bark of a pine tree. At Mission San Miguel there is a section of a tree which fell near Paso Robles, and when the bark fell aside, the emblazed cross was exposed. … Mission History …. Mission San Miguel Arcangel was founded on July 15, 1797 by Father Fermin Lasuen, who was the second President-Priest of the California Missions after Junipero Serra. The large number of Salinan natives living nearby was the primary reason the location was selected. San Miguel was the 16th Mission founded and today can still be seen pretty much as it was back in the 18th century …..