Forbes and Stockton
In 1844, James Alexander Forbes acquired the parcel of land on which the Muirson Label Company would later build its headquarters. He received the land – called El Potrero de Santa Clara - via a grant from Mexican Governor Manuel Micheltorena in 1844. Forbes was typical of the entrepreneurial European and American men who came to California during the Mexican Period (1821 – 1848). Born in Scotland in 1807, Forbes arrived in California on a whaling ship in 1831. He married a Californio woman, Ana Maria Galindo, and became a Mexican citizen. Forbes did little to develop El Potrero de Santa Clara, choosing to invest his capital in a flourmill on Los Gatos Creek. After declaring bankruptcy in 1856, Forbes sold El Potrero de Santa Clara – approximately 2000 acres - to Commodore Robert F. Stockton.
Commodore Robert F. Stockton is a most notable figure in California History. A native of New Jersey, Stockton commanded the United States Navy’s Pacific Squadron during the Mexican–American War. He was appointed the military governor of California in 1846, serving in that capacity for several months before turning over the position to John C. Fremont and returning to the East Coast. After retiring from the Navy in 1850, Stockton decided to develop his property at El Potrero de Santa Clara as a nursery. In 1853, he dispatched Christopher A. Shelton to California with a large inventory of stock for the nursery, which the Santa Clara Valley desperately lacked. The nursery – and thus Stockton indirectly – served a vital role in the development of fruit agriculture in the Santa Clara Valley.