Mission Information, Facts, Requests for History

Who was in charge of building the missions? Who built San Luis Rey?

The answer is a little complex because you asked a very general question. The ultimate decision to settle Alta California and build a chain of missions was made by the King of Spain. The king's representative in New Spain was a Viceroy, located in Mexico City who organized the effort. The actual building of the missions was the joint responsibility of the Governor of Alta and Baja California and the Father President of the Mission Chain (who was initially Junipero Serra). The Father President was involved in selecting each site.

Why did the mission system end?

Many forces worked together to bring an end to the mission system. Perhaps the fundamental reason was that the missions had served their purpose as the primary means of "settling" California and transforming it from a wilderness. By 1830s the mission controlled lands covered about 1/3 of the future state, and the total population had grown to about 30,000 - in the missions, presidios and towns that were formed (the most prominent of which would become Los Angeles). As the number of settlers grew they came to covet the lands and property of the missions.

Who founded Mission Santa Cruz?

Santa Cruz was founded on August 28, 1791 under the overall leadership of Fr. Fermin Lasuen, the second Father President of the mission chain. The founding missionaries (the men who were responsible for building the mission day-in and day-out in its initial years) were Fr. Isidro Salazar and Fr. Baldomero Lopez.

Are there records in spain or at the Vatican that record mission happenings in the 1700’s?

The primary source for original mission records for the California Missions are at the Mission Archives Library in Santa Barbara, where many of the original documents were centralized. I would start there.

Here are some addition sources used by mission scholars:

Is there a list of all the nicknames used for each mission.

Here is a list of mission abbreviations in common use and the special 'designations' that Fr. Zephyrin Engelhardt, O.F.M. cited in his definitive multi-volume study The Missions and Missionaries of California, and smaller books on specific missions:
MISSION OFFICAL NAME ABBREVIATION / NICKNAME DESIGNATION
San Diego de Alcala San Diego Mission Mother of the Missions

How many Missions are there in California? Did they cover the whole state?

There were 21 missions in the territory that was referred to as Alta (Upper) California. The first, San Diego, was founded in 1769, the last, called San Francisco Solano, was founded in 1823. There were no missions north of Sonoma. The Russians had a settlement in the area called Fort Ross, founded in 1812. The missions were concentrated near the coast. There were plans for inland missions but they never materialized.