San Juan Capistrano

Is San Juan Capistrano the home of the 2019 Orange County Laureate? Here are some details we learned of this Orange County City.


Most don’t know that the town of San Juan Capistrano is referred to as “the birthplace of Orange County.” This was, and still is, home to the Juaneño or Acjachemen before the mission, which was founded by Father Junipero Serra in November of 1776. With the Secularization Act, passed in 1833, San Juan faced a decline in population, and in the 1840’s, it was first declared a town (not a parish) by the Mexican government, and then sold to a man named John Forester.

The late 1840’s to the early 1920’s were a rough time for San Juan, with the town having “one good murder a year.” This was due to the large amounts of squatters, bandits, and cowboys that frequented the area, due to its location between San Diego and Los Angeles. When gold was discovered in Northern California, however, the population jumped again, and San Juan saw stability and the beginnings of a formation of a tight-knit community.

Naturally, San Juan Capistrano’s biggest claim to fame is the Mission. It had fallen into decline, and in the early 1900’s, many wealthy individuals worked hard on preservation efforts to get it back to the beautiful place it is today.

When visiting San Juan, you can explore the legend of the swallows firsthand! The legend of the Cliff Swallows, which migrate 6,000 miles from Argentina to the mission to nest, has led to the town welcoming visitors from all over in a celebration that has been going on since the 1930’s. San Juan is a town rich with culture, history, and life. It is definitely worth a visit!

Know someone who inspires and has contributed to their community? Know someone that is creative and intelligent, and enjoys sharing that with others? Don’t forget to nominate a friend or neighbor for the Orange County Laureate by October 31st at



Written by Morgan Wilson. Please email us if you would like to recommend additional reading resources on this topic. For more information on this city please visit the following references:

As a nonprofit organization dedicated to storytelling, we want to honor storytellers in our own backyard. Now is the time to nominate Orange County community members who inspire you, through storytelling, community engagement, or education (art, literature, music, history, science, technology). Nominate the neighbors who inspire you.


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