The Short Life of Forster City

The San Diego Union of May 22, 1879 included a short item titled, “The Forster Colony.”

“A new road is suggested from Forster City to Temecula,” the story began, “in order to assure cheaper freight rates. The wharf at Forster City is to be constructed at once. The bean crops in that settlement are looking very well, and considering the comparatively short time since the settlers arrived on the ground they have accomplished wonders. They are full of confidence in the future.”

Just two months earlier, in March, 1879, a petition, signed by 24 residents, had been filed with the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to form a Forster City Voting Precinct.

By early 1880, according to an essay published in the Summer 2000 Quarterly of the Fallbrook Historical Society, “Forster City appeared on the official Judicial Township, Precinct and Road District Map of San Diego County.”

Forster City was located on the northwest edge of Rancho Santa Margarita along the San Onofre River.

The colony was the brainchild of Don Juan Forster, a transplanted Englishmen who married into the Pico family of Mexican era California and became the owner of several ranchos in San Diego County, of which Santa Margarita was the largest.

Within a couple of years of its founding Forster City had a post office, blacksmith shop and lumber yard. But Don Juan was a land-rich and cash-poor wheeler-dealer. An indication of that might be found in a notice of a sheriff’s sale that appeared in the Union of January 17, 1880, ordering the sale of Rancho Santa Margarita under a decree of foreclosure by the Hibernia Savings and Loan Society against Forster and two other defendants.

Foster managed somehow to hold on to Santa Margarita until his death in February 1882, but his heirs soon had to sell it. The end of Forster family ownership also marked the end of Forster City, which disappeared from county records and maps within a few years.

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