Kumeyaay History: The Old Town that we know today has a long history dating back far beyond the colonial days. Before the wooden structures we see presently were ever constructed, Old Town was a Kumeyaay Village known as Cosoy (Kosa’aay) since as early as 10,000 B.C. The village consisted of around 40 families who lived in pyramid-shaped huts made of branches and earth.
In 1769, Spanish explorers landed in San Diego and were welcomed by the Kumeyaay. It is said that the Spaniards came with many gifts for trade, reserving important space for such trade over food and other necessary items. The Kumeyaay provided the weakened men food, medicine and refuge. Only 8 shipmates had survived the journey, most dying of scurvy or malnourishment.
It wasn’t long before the Spaniards had regained their health and began claiming their own territories, “less than a musket shot”, from the village. The Spaniards erected a hospital camp and fortress on Presidio Hill and occupied the water source of the village.
The camp gradually was fortified and became the San Diego Presidio and the first San Diego Mission. It was from this base at Kosa’aay that Spain’s colonization of California and the California Mission Chain were launched.
Once the mission and presidio were established, the Spaniards began sending more of their people across seas to begin colonizing the area. The Kumeyaay people were not equipped to handle the diseases the Europeans brought over and slowly their health and numbers began to decline.
Kosa’aay officially became for the west coast what Jamestown and Plymouth were for the east. Beginning right here in San Diego, from that one village site, the colony that is now known as California was born. Also of importance is that on August 15th, 1769 Kosa’aay was the location of the Kumey’aay nation’s first organized resistance to the cultural tyranny of the conquistadors.
Eventually the fort and mission were abandoned as settlers continued to move further inland. George Marston a San Diego businessman purchased Presidio Hill, and built a private park and Serra mission museum in 1907. Ultimately Marston donated all of the property to the City of San Diego. No original historic buildings still exist.
Witches Tower: This small building is known as the ‘Pattie Memorial’. It was once used as a Spanish guardhouse and a jail cell to hold an American named Sylvester Pattie. Pattie died here and is commemorated as the “First American buried in California soil.”
The top of the roof has a mysterious pentagram built into it with candle wax and dark stains in the center giving strong evidence of occult practices.
One of my readers found a dead body up there one night and has the video to prove it. The poor woman was found in an unnatural position inside the pentagram with blood coming out of her mouth and a goat pendant laying near here.
The White Deer, Lucy: Some say that Lucy’s spirit continues to roam the grassy area of Presidio Park. Some see her white tail disappear into the bushes, or they find their garden flowers eaten. Motorists sometimes are startled by a fleeting image – that similar of a deer. Joggers will regularly glimpse the sight of a white deer scampering away into the bushes.
If you want to see Lucy, go for a jog in the early hours or take a stroll in the twilight hours. That is the time when Lucy can be found, in life and in death.
The Serra museum: The exterior is reported to be haunted as well. Cloaked hooded shadows are claimed to walk the perimeter of the museum. A young child spirit has also been supposedly spotted atop the museum tower. B. Weston relates, one of the more interesting claims involves a possible dark entity threat resides in the back-trails behind the museum.
Another reader said this about his experience near the mission “I was there with a few other investigators one foggy night. We made our rounds to all the usual spots but the night was eerily quite. We were using a spirit box in front of the cathedral when everyone’s recording devices started malfunctioning and just then a voice started coming through. It sounded like a young boy. He claimed he lost his life there. When one of the investigators asked how, the voice came back with, “I jumped”.
Ancient Burial Ground: in 1769, shortly after the arrival of Father Serra, over 60 men were buried in the hills of Presidio Park. This burial ground was known as “El Jardin Del Rey” (The King’s Garden). The burials were recorded but during an Indian raid in 1775, the book was burned.
Between 1882 and 1887, fill dirt needed for work on the Derby Dike was sourced from The King’s Garden. Unfortunately, the job was done carelessly and burial remains were dumped in the San Diego River.
Even though people began moving off Presidio Hill and settled in Old Town, burials still took place within the Presidio walls. These burials included early settlers as well as Mission Indians. The last recorded burial in this location was Henry Delano Fitch who died in 1849, the same year as the first burial at El Campo Santo in Old Town. Fitch’s coffin lid, unearthed in an excavation, was outlined with brass nails, two hearts, and the letters “H.D.F.”3 Burials have also been found at the bottom of Presidio Hill.
Although it was no longer used by Europeans, the Natives continued burying their dead on Presidio Hill through the 1870s. As a complete disrespect, that Native’s village and cemetery was completely bulldozed and now sits an empty lot and golf course where it once was.
Personal Experience: There are a lot of grounds to cover around here so bring your hiking shoes! Explore the mission, canyon, hiking trails, ruins, statues and more! This is a very interesting area with a lot of San Diego history. Soak it up! The prettiest time to come is in the spring when everything is green and in bloom!
The memorial for Lucy, the white deer, sits atop one of the hillsides:
What remains of the old stockade:
The aloe & jade maze is fun to explore:
We had a creepy night here talking about ghost stories when all of a sudden we realized we were sitting in a giant pentagram! Ahhhh!