Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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PEYRI, Antonio, missionary, born in Catalonia, Spain, in 1765; died after 1832. He became a member of the order of St. Francis at an early age, and was sent to the American mission soon after his ordination. He built a cottage on the banks of San Luis river, California, obtained some cattle and a few converted Indians from other missions, and began the foundation of the mission of San Luis Rey de Francia among the Quechi Indians, which, under his care, became the greatest in California. He was a skilful architect, and built a church of great size and beauty. His Indian converts numbered 3,500, scattered over twenty ranches, and were noted for their industry and prosperity. Here he had lived among his flock for twenty-six years when the arrival of Echandia, the first governor that was sent to California by the republic of Mexico, changed the condition of the missions. The new governor was a bitter enemy to them, and interfered continually with the missionaries. Father Peyri resisted his attempts to deprive the Indians of their rights, and became obnoxious to the Mexican authorities. He was at length driven from the mission in 1832, and in a few years many of the Indians sank back into barbarism. When he left them they had 60,000 head of cattle, and raised 13,000 bushels of grain a year, while many of them were blacksmiths, carpenters, and mechanics. Father Peyri went to Mexico, where he lived for some time, but finally returned to Spain, and appears to have resided in Barcelona. See Alvin Robinson's "Life in California" (New York, 1846) and John R. Bartlett's "Personal Narrative" (2 vols., New York, 1854).
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