Way back in 1818, privateers fighting on the behalf of Latin American revolutionaries against the Spanish invaded Mission San Juan Capistrano. Their aim was to obtain supplies to assist in further attacks on Spanish targets, but many of them instead got drunk on the mission’s stores of wine, leading them to cause general mayhem throughout the mission. After wildly ringing the bells and setting fire to some of the Indian dwellings, they sailed southward beyond the horizon, leaving a legacy of buried treasure stories throughout Orange County. Though historians have largely focused on the compelling story of the privateers’ French captain, Hippolyte Bouchard, the stories of the Spanish Californians and Indians at San Juan Capistrano have yet to be thoroughly explored. This talk will examine the strategic challenges the Spanish military and padres faced in defending the mission and highlight the experiences of the mission’s primary inhabitants, the Indians. It will also examine the invasion’s aftermath, which provoked an intensification of long-standing conflicts between the Spanish military and missionaries. At the end of the talk, the speaker will reveal the location of the buried treasure!
Speaker Eric Plunkett is a math and social studies teacher at Travis Ranch Middle School in Yorba Linda. As an Orange County native, he developed an interest in the history of the county and California through his love of hiking. He has recently been researching and writing about the Portolá Expedition with his friend and fellow historian, Phil Brigandi.
Trinity Episcopal Church
2400 N Canal St, Orange, CA 92865