San Juan Bautista, California

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San Juan Bautista (English: Saint John the Baptist) is a city in San Benito County, California, United States. The population was 1,549 at the 2000 census. The city of San Juan Bautista was named after Mission San Juan Bautista. San Juan is primarily an agricultural town.

The Juan Bautista de Anza House, the General José Castro house, and the San Juan Bautista Plaza Historic District are National Historic Landmarks. El Teatro Campesino is based in San Juan Bautista.



San Juan Bautista is located at 36°50′39″N 121°32′14″W / 36.844301°N 121.537232°W / 36.844301; -121.537232[1], adjacent to the San Andreas Fault.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.7 square miles (1.8 km²), all of it land.


Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the area around San Juan Bautista was populated by the Mutsunes, a branch of the Ohlone indians. The Mutsunes lived in villages composed of thatched huts made of willow and grass, and as they lived the simple hunter-gatherer lifestyle common to California indians, left little mark on the land. Today, the Mutsunes are extinct, with the last full-blooded native, Ascención Solórzano, dying in 1930.

In 1797, the Spanish Franciscan priest fray Fermín de Lasuén founded Mission San Juan Bautista to facilitate the conversion of the native people to Catholicism; in the process, he claimed the land for the Spanish Empire. Lasuén chose the site because of the area's fertile cropland, steady water supply, and sizable indian population. At its height, the Mission had over 1200 neophytes living within its walls. The mission churchyard holds the remains of about 4500 indians. Construction of the current mission church began in 1803, and has served the community continuously since 1812. The mission was located on the Camino Real, a "royal highway" which connected the California missions and which remained well-used until the 19th century.

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