Digital-Desert : Mojave Desert
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Mojave Desert History: Pioneer of the Mojave
Old Skeletons & New Trails

Expedition of Father Nuez

One such military expedition actually refers to the village of Topipabit. In 1819 Lieutenant Gabriel Moraga and 55 men were sent to punish the Mohave Indians, who were reported to have killed some Spanish soldiers. Father Joaquin Pasqual Nuez accompanied the soldiers and kept a diary. On November 25th the expedition camped at a village called Guapiabit (Las Flores Ranch in Summit Valley), where they suffered "a painful night because of the excessive cold."

After spending another day at Guapiabit to rest up, the group traveled to Atongaibit (Hesperia). While resting there, a squad continued on about a league and a half to the upper narrows in what is now Victorville and discovered where the Mohaves had killed seven Christian Indians and an unspecified number of "pagans." The following day was Sunday, and Father Nuez conducted Mass and a funeral service:

I blessed a large cross which all the company venerated with devotion and tenderness, and immediately celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and preached a sermon suited to the day. The Holy Sacrifice being finished, I ordered them to bring the bones and skulls of the Christians. They deposited them in the capilla with two candles burning.

In the afternoon, all marching in procession, carrying in front the large blessed Cross, and behind the remains of the neophytes, while I was singing the funeral service, we arrived at the same place where the bodies had been burned. I ordered a deep pit dug, blessed the sepulchur [sic], and buried them at the foot of the Cross which we planted there.

The next day, November 29th, they resumed the chase, and when they arrived at Topiabit they found the Indians were gone, apparently having fled before the onslaught of the Mohave war party:

At seven o'clock in the morning the Expedition set out from Las Animas benditas (the Blessed Souls of Atongaibit). About eight leagues (from our starting place) is the Rancheria of Topipabit without any inhabitant. I named it the Sweetest Name of Jesus of Topipabit.

In about a league more we encountered the bones of pagan Indians, and farther on, the skulls and the bones of three children. At about three leagues distance from Topipabit is the Rancheria of Cacaumeat, called by us San Hilario, which name the Commander of the Expedition assigned it three years ago. All the night there were dense clouds threatening rain.

The members of the expedition continued on down the Mojave, discovering more Indian remains, but they were ultimately unsuccessful in their mission due to the fatigue of their horses. All of these slain tribesmen meant quite a disaster for the local Vanyumes; never very numerous, they were no match for the fierce, warlike Mohaves.

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A modern day cross stands on the rocky hill above the narrows where Fr. Nuez originally placed his cross
ecology: wildlife - plants - geography: places - MAPS - roads & trails: route 66 - old west - communities - weather - glossary
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