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Funeral for Santo Juncio

Funeral for Santo Juncio

Feb. 11, 1921: The funeral procession for Santo Juncio, a Native American born near the San Gabriel Mission in 1815,  leaves the mission grounds. Juncio had been referred to as the last living link to early California. Chief Youngturtle of the Chickasaw tribe, in headdress, leads the pallbearers carrying the coffin.

Juncio was born when Los Angeles was ruled by the Spanish and lived under Mexican, and then U.S., rule.

Under the headline “A Final Living Link With Romantic Past Is Severed,” the Los Angeles Times reported:

“The bells of San Gabriel Mission which called together a faithful band of Indian converts more than a hundred years ago that they might witness the baptism of Santo Juncio, yesterday tolled the call which bade 2000 residents of the valley gather at the same house of worship to add their presence as a last tribute at his funeral service.

Juncio was born in the mission 106 years ago. He passed his entire life within sight of the same mountains and within a radius of twenty miles of his birth, and yesterday was accorded the funeral rites of the Catholic Church before the same altar from which his baptismal ceremony was read a century before. His passing marked the severing of the last living tie between the romantic past and the present.”

Los Angeles Times staff photographer George Watson took the image above that accompanied The Times’ story on Juncio’s funeral. Another photographer snapped Watson, who was searching for a high overhead angle, standing on a headstone with his camera above  his head.  A second image, probably shot right after the published image, is posted below.

What is not known, 89 years later, is if one or both of the funeral procession images were taken from atop the headstone.

Middle photo: George Watson stands on a headstone at the San Gabriel Mission while covering the funeral of Santo Juncio. Credit:  Watson Family Photographic Archive

Bottom photo: Unpublished image of the funeral procession probably taken just after the top photo. The photographer, George Watson, was working with glass plates, not roll film that was easily advanced.  Credit: George Watson / Watson Family Photographic Archive.

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The top image is scanned from original glass plate and is left uncropped.


  1. November 18, 2010, 10:55 am

    these are absolutely fantastic!

    By: Steve Silvas
  2. November 18, 2010, 12:28 pm

    "What is not known, 89 years later, is if one or both of the funeral procession images were taken from atop the headstone."

    I doubt either one was taken from atop the headstone. Look at the background in the first and last photos and compare it to the background in the "headstone" picture. In the headstone picture, there is nothing but trees where the mission church should be as indicated in the 1st and 3rd pictures. Furthermore, knowing the layout of the mission, the 1st and 3rd pictures are showing the procession from the front of the church to the cemetery. The photos of the procession are from a lot closer than someone standing on a headstone could possibly take. Also, the inscriptions on the headstones face the mission, so, in the "headstone" picture, the mission is behind the photographer, whereas the mission is in front of the photographer in the procession photos.

    But I must agree, I really enjoy seeing these old photos. I was just at the mission this past week and it is wonderful to see how things were back then.

    By: CPEM

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