At one time the entire area was owned by a few people including the Bixby's. Here is a brief history of how the Bixby's influenced the surrounding areas, created the city of Long Beach and more. Signal Hill was smack in the middle and shared much of this history. You may recognize some of the names as you drive through the streets of Long Beach.
In 1843 Jonathan Temple bought Rancho Los Cerritos, having arrived in California in 1827 from New England. He built what is now known as the "Los Cerritos Ranch House", a still-standing adobe which is a National Historic Landmark. Temple created a thriving cattle ranch and prospered, becoming the wealthiest man in Los Angeles County. Both Temple and his ranch house played important local roles in the Mexican–American War. On an island in the San Pedro Bay, Mormon pioneers made an abortive attempt to establish a colony (as part of Brigham Young's plan to establish a continuous chain of settlements from the Pacific to Salt Lake).
In 1866 Temple sold Rancho Los Cerritos for $20,000 to the Northern California sheep-raising firm of Flint, Bixby & Co, which consisted of brothers Thomas and Benjamin Flint and their cousin Lewellyn Bixby. Two years previous Flint, Bixby & Co had also purchased along with Northern California associate James Irvine, three ranchos which would later become the city that bears Irvine's name. To manage Rancho Los Cerritos, the company selected Lewellyn's brother Jotham Bixby, the "Father of Long Beach".
Three years later Bixby bought into the property and would later form the Bixby Land Company. In the 1870s as many as 30,000 sheep were kept at the ranch and sheared twice yearly to provide wool for trade. In 1880, Bixby sold 4,000 acres (16 km2) of the Rancho Los Cerritos to William E. Willmore, who subdivided it in hopes of creating a farm community, Willmore City. He failed and was bought out by a Los Angeles syndicate that called itself the "Long Beach Land and Water Company." They changed the name of the community to Long Beach, at that time. The City of Long Beach was officially incorporated in 1897.
Another Bixby cousin, John W. Bixby, was influential in the city. After first working for his cousins at Los Cerritos, J.W. Bixby leased land at Rancho Los Alamitos. He put together a group: banker I.W. Hellman, Lewellyn and Jotham Bixby, and him, to purchase the rancho. In addition to bringing innovative farming methods to the Alamitos (which under Abel Stearns in the late 1850s and early 1860s was once the largest cattle ranch in the US), J.W. Bixby began the development of the oceanfront property near the city's picturesque bluffs. Under the name Alamitos Land Company, J.W. Bixby named the streets and laid out the parks of his new city. This area would include Belmont Heights, Belmont Shore and Naples; it soon became a thriving community of its own. J.W. Bixby died in 1888 of apparent appendicitis.
The Rancho Los Alamitos property was split up, with Hellman getting the southern third, Jotham and Lewellyn the northern third, and J.W. Bixby's widow and heirs keeping the central third. The Alamitos townsite was kept as a separate entity, but at first it was primarily run by Lewellyn and Jotham Bixby, although I.W, Hellman (who had the largest single share) had a significant veto power, an influence made even stronger as the J.W. Bixby heirs began to side with Hellman more and more.
When Jotham Bixby died in 1916, the remaining 3,500 acres (14 km2) of Rancho Los Cerritos was subdivided into the neighborhoods of Bixby Knolls, California Heights, North Long Beach and part of the city of Signal Hill.
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