Rare plan of the Forster Addition, within the City of San Juan Capistrano, showing the Mission San Juan Capistrano and surrounding neighborhoods.
The lands covered are those which originally were acquired by Don Juan Forster in 1844, including the Mission and the present location of the Railroad Station in San Juan. Several of the streets named in the subdivision remain the same, although the subdivision plan does not match the current street configuration. The map is extremely rare, with the only recorded example in the Honeyman Collection.
John "Don Juan" Forster was born in 1815 in Liverpool, England. At 17, he traveled to Mexico to work for his uncle in Guaymas, Mexico. He became the captain of one of his uncle's ships. In 1836 he became a Mexican citizen and was living in Los Angeles where he worked as a shipping agent at San Pedro. Later he was also Captain of the Port of San Pedro. In 1837 John married Dona Ysidora Pico, sister of Pio Pico the Governor of California. Forster began acquiring land in the 1840s as a result of his connection with Governor Pico. Among his acquisitions was Rancho Trabuco and Rancho Mission Viejo in modern Orange County and Rancho San Felipe and Rancho de la Nacion in San Diego County. In 1844 Forster and James McKinley purchased the old ruins of Mission of San Juan Capistrano for $710. Forster lived in the Mission until 1864, when it was given back to the Catholic Church by President Abraham Lincoln.
In 1846, the United States and Mexico were at war and Governor Pico fled to Mexico, leaving Forster in charge of Pico's ranch, Santa Margarita y Las Flores, which today is Camp Pendleton. On his return to California, Pico borrowed large sums of money from Forster to cover his gambling debts. By 1864 Forster offered to pay $14,000 and assume all of Pico's current debts in return for the deed to rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores. The Picos, Pio and Andres, agreed and Forster became the largest landowner in California, eventually holding over 200,000 acres.