Francisco Garces Chapter was organized on February 18, 1950 by Margaret Faires Bailey (Mrs. Fisher C. Bailey). Our Chapter motto is "Be Loyal Americans."
Our chapter was named in honor of the first recorded white man, Francisco Garces, to enter what is now the state of Nevada. A Franciscan monk, who in 1775, passed through the southern end of the state on his way to California, Francisco Graces was among the great names in the Franciscan history of Arizona and California. His book of travels is considered one of the epic journeys of all North America.
He was born April 12, 1738, in Aragon, Spain, the son of Juan and Antonio Maestro Garces. His uncle aided in his early education and at 16 he took his holy orders. When he was 25, he was ordained a priest and later attended the College of Santa Cruz de Questara, Mexico, where he prepared for mission work among the Indians.
Because of his love for his fellow man and missionary zeal, he implored to be sent to San Zavier del Bac Mission. This was the point most exposed to the attacks of Apaches. From here he made extensive expeditions along the Gila, Colorado, and Mojave Rivers, from Bakersfield on the north through Needles on the south.
As a missionary and wanderer, rather than a road maker, Garces was a solitary explorer who preferred to risk his own life. Traveling either on foot or horseback, he endured a life of great hardships. It mattered not where he went as he had just one dominating motive -- the Christianizing of Indians. To this end he visited nine different tribes composed of 24,500 souls.
King Carlos of Spain, however, was desirous of opening a land route from Mexico to California, and after reading Garces' diaries in 1774, ordered Lt. Col. Bautista de Anza to confer with Garces and plan two great expeditions to San Gabriel Mission and Monterey. This was done but Garces preferred to travel without protection of soldiers so as not to arouse the suspicions of the Indians he was attempting to help. In 1780, Father Garces founded the missions of Conception and San Pedro.
It seems Spain had earlier promised Chief
Palma, of the Yuma Indians, a mission to be erected in his area. Unfortunately,
this was not done. So, after three years of waiting, the disappointed and
angry Yumas attacked the San Pedro Mission on July 19, 1781. Chief Palma sent
tribesmen to find his friend Garces, and his assistant, to escort them to
Conception unharmed. They were found, but in spite of Chief Palma's orders,
were killed. Thus the life from one of early America's great scholars,
explorers, and soldiers of the Cross -- Padre Francisco Garces -- was
This site last updated on January 19, 2011.
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