My life in the mission began after I had become widowed, with nowhere else to go. My husband was a soldier who fought and died in the Mexican-American war, leaving me and my three daughters without a husband or father. I sought life in a San Diego mission, where I was welcomed by the local priest. When we first arrived, there were no available lodgings inside the mission, so the priest offered us temporary living quarters on the ranch. We then moved inside the mission once there was room.
At first, most of my daily tasks involved making goods for soldiers; we would craft saddles, hem uniforms, and provide passing soldiers with temporary lodge and shelter. These sorts of tasks are generally reserved for younger women. As I grew older, I became involved in teaching, and ultimately I advanced to the become the lead teacher for children living in the mission. My own daughters eventually grew older and ultimately married soldiers, leaving the mission. However, I remained behind, as this has become my home. I have been treated well; as long as I contribute, all my needs have been met. We live a humble existence, so we do not believe in the accumulation of wealth (Silliman 382). Occasionally, we resolve local disputes between the soldiers and the Indians. Because we are Catholic, we believe in the Christian virtue of providing assistance for everyone. We will take care of those in need, as I was once in need.
Our contribution to the economy comes largely from the services we provide for soldiers, such as crafts and stitching, as well as providing medical assistance. We grow our own food, so we do not require large amounts of funding. We live a largely sustainable existence, and we have become known throughout the community as a charitable group.
- Perez, Eulalia. “An Old Woman Remembers.” From Three Memoirs of Mexican California. University of California, 1998. Print.
- Silliman, Stephen W. “Theoretical perspectives on labor and colonialism: Reconsidering the California missions.” Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 20.4 (2001): 379-407.