Mission San Miguel is a beautiful historic mission about 7 miles north of Paso Robles in Northern San Luis Obispo county. It has the lore of hidden treasure and ghosts. My youngest son did his Mission project on this beautiful place many years ago and the mysterious story behind it always drew me to want to know more about this place.
Founded in 1797, this Mission was run by the Catholic Church up until about 1836 with Pio Pico decided to convert and secularize many of the missions along the coast and sell off as private property. A man by the last name of Reed purchase Mission San Miguel in 1846 for the sum of $250. Because this was during the hay day of the gold rush, many precious metals were transported up and down the coast. Mr. Reed turned the property into a bed and breakfast to house the travelers during this time. He only accepted gold as payment to be his guest. He amassed quite a stockpile of gold during this period.
One evening Mr. Reed was entertaining guests and began to boast about how much gold he had. He supposedly buried gold on his land that was worth about $200,000 at the time. Reed unfortunately told the wrong people about his fortune. They included Joseph Peter Lynch who had deserted from General Kearney’s command at Fort Leavenworth, there was an escaped convict by the name of Peter Raymond and several other outlaws that they had join them. They left the next morning but decided to return in search of the money. These bandits were not successful in finding the gold and murdered the whole family, guests and servants. They piled all the bodies in a heap on the living room floor. Mrs. Reed was pregnant at the time of the massacre. Different accounts say that is was somewhere between 10-13 people that were killed. They were all buried in a large communal grave. The bodies were discovered by a mail carrier by the name of James Beckwourth, a free man of color that was known to have improved the Beckwourth Trail, which thousands of settlers followed to Central California. I heard in one tale that when Beckwourth found the bodies, he road back to the Dana Adobe to alert the family there of what happened.
The bandits had gone to one of Reeds business partner’s home near Templeton to see if they could find the gold there. His name was Petronilo Rios and he had several native Americans staying on his property. They decided not to attack out of fear of retaliation and left. Rios had noticed one of Mrs. Reed’s earrings on one of the bandits.
A posse was formed to find the bandits and make them pay for what they did to Reed, his family and guests. There are several accounts as to where they were founds. Some say Summerland, south of Santa Barbara, others say Gaviota. Some were shot, another ran into the ocean and drowned. The others were rounded up, tried and hung in Santa Barbara. The gold was never recovered. Some think that the bandit that drowned trying to escape may have had the gold on him. Others wonder if the Catholic Church found the gold in later years and did not report it. It is a mystery.
There have been accounts of people seeing the spirit a woman in a white gown, who has been assumed to be Mrs. Reed. A man in a blue pea-coat has also been seen haunting the property. There are historic accounts that Mr. Reed wore a blue pea-coat. Others say they have seen a ghost of a monk in the museum rooms. A psychic has had accounts of blood and horrible feelings of murder while touring the site. She claimed the spirits will remain in unrest until they are moved from the communal grave.
In 1859 the United States Government returned the missions back to the Catholic Church. Mission San Miguel did not get its Padre until 1878. This beautiful Mission still stands today and is a nice place to visit once it reopens. It has plenty of outdoor space to explore in the meantime. It is located right off of the 101 heading North at 775 Mission St., San Miguel, Ca. 93451. For more information: http://www.missionsanmiguel.org/