Although our Parish is only 67 years old it has a rich Catholic heritage which reaches back before the beginning of the Golden State. In July 1769, having set up a tiny Presidio at San Diego, Don Gaspar de Portola went north with a mounted expedition to find “Monte Rey”. The venerable Padre Junipero Serra remained in San Diego to work on the first Mission. On the third day of their march, the Spaniards found Encinitas. Padre Juan Crespi, OFM, who was with Portola, recorded the event in his diary as follows:
“In about half a league we came to another little valley with many live oaks, where we found a small stream of water, which ran a short way in the midst of some blackberry bushes, where we found another village, which had only six women. We saw that they had some pots and jugs of baked clay well made. We called this place … the spring of the valley of live oaks … “
The valley of las Encinas is halfway between Mission Basilica San Diego and Mission San Luis Rey. For more than 100 years it was an important oasis on the old and dry coastal trail… El Camino Real.
Through the years the long original Spanish name for the valley was shortened to Encinitas, which means “little place with evergreen oaks.” In 1846 Andres Ybarra of San Diego was granted the Rancho Las Encinitas, 4431 acres in and around the valley. The ruins of his adobe hacienda are in a small grove of eucalyptus and cactus, northeast of the junction of Rancho Santa Fe Road and Olivenhain Road. It was a prosperous ranch and stage coach station until the 1880’s when the railroad came through and the old ranch lands were split up. The area is now Stage Coach park.
Encinitas is, by far, the oldest town name in North San Diego County. For this we are indebted to the Franciscans, who brought the Catholic Church to California through the twenty-one Missions that they established.