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PROBE: April 8, 2002

April 08, 2002

QUESTION: Recently I saw a mural but you couldn't tell anything about the location by the mural. What struck my eye was a mission, La Purisima Concepcion. Have you ever heard of this mission? How would I find it? — Desert Explorer, Ocotillo

That's a famous mission that figured prominently in the history of the Imperial Valley and California. It was established in September 1780. A second mission, San Pedro y San Pablo de Bicunari, was dedicated in January 1781.

The Spanish had high hopes for the two Colorado River missions, believing they would be convenient resting places for settlers on the way to coastal settlements that Spain hoped to establish in Northern California.

It didn't work out that way. The missions survived less than a year, sheltering only two bands of settlers before the Yuma Indians hit both missions at once on July 17, 1781, killing the four priests assigned to the missions, including the beloved Rev. Eusebio Garces, and all the male settlers. The Indians took the women and children captive.

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The first settlers made it to the San Francisco Bay Area, where they established the city. The last group went to Los Angeles to build another city.

After the massacre, the Spanish never sent another group of settlers along the newly discovered land route to the coast.

Mission Purisima Concepcion was rebuilt on the site. You can see it on the side of Indian Hill on the California side of the river. After Arizona and California became part of the United States, there was an Army fort at the top of the hill.

The second mission was never rebuilt, and the last we heard, historians had not decided on the precise site of the mission. It was either 10 miles up river or maybe down river in Mexico.

The Yuma-area Indians earned a reputation they probably didn't deserve. Until the massacre, the Yumans were noted for their hospitality. After the massacre, historians referred to them as the "treacherous" or "dangerous" Yumans.

QUESTION: I received my notice from the El Centro Chamber of Commerce with names of proposed new members of the board of directors.

An apparent conflict of interest of two of the persons on the candidate list trouble me. The first is Marc Gran, a member of the Imperial City Council and the other is John Lau, also associated with the city of Imperial.

Both of the candidates attended private meetings between city officials and property agents for Wal-Mart. The purpose was to lure Wal-Mart from El Centro to Imperial. Such a move would cost El Centro thousands of dollars in retail tax revenue. —Very Concerned, El Centro

El Centro chamber Chief Executive Officer Cathy Kennerson said she heard the same rumor and checked it out.

"I'm convinced there's nothing to it. I talked to each of the Imperial councilmen separately," she said.

Kennerson said the rumor apparently began when a property broker met with Imperial officials. He never mentioned Wal-Mart or identified any store. All he told the Imperial people was he represented a "big box" store, Kennerson said.

"That was way last fall," Kennerson said. "They haven't heard from the broker since."

QUESTION: I went to the movies in Calexico last weekend and I could not believe how many people were talking. When did it become acceptable behavior to talk in the movies? — Disturbed Movie Patron, Calexico

Talking in the movies has never been acceptable behavior. Shame on those blabbermouths!

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