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tv   Rancho Los Alamitos  CSPAN  April 10, 2016 4:17pm-4:31pm EDT

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may ever again clutch a start baby to her breast. so that no woman anywhere so ever be the slave of a fascist state that makes her no more than a brood mare. that is why the women of america, like the men at their side, must flock, and stick to their jobs until that day when an end comes to the devastation of the earth. when man, again, may safely go down to the sea in ships. peace has come once more to all lands, and who saysy to the land the finest warrior, the greatest ofan although all -- woman them all. ♪ this year, c-span is touring cities across the country exploring american history.
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next, a look at a recent visit to long beach, california. you're watching american history tv. all we can, every weekend on c-span3. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> rancho los alamitos is one of the rare sites that has a continuous history lasting more than 1500 years. if you follow that chain of occupancy, you are looking at the development of southern california. the site is particularly important because it is where god descended from heaven, gave the laws to the people and is considered sacred. the map on the floor is designed to give you a good sense of the territoryrican
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overlaid by the first rancho, given under spanish rule. many of the people who received land under spanish rule were former soldiers who had been in the expeditions exploring southern california. and that was true of manuel, who was the first here. when he died, the land was split among his children and it was formed into five ranches. each of which is about 20,000 acres. ranchos alimitos is all that is left. >> we are standing in that rancho los alamitos adobe ranch house. we are in the core of the ranch house right now, which is where
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the adobe is, the walls surrounding us right now are adobe walls. builtobe was built, he this adobe, as sort of an outpost of his huge acreage. it was not owner-occupied at the time. it was a 40 foot by 60 foot adobe, it was used to house horses when they were out here on this remote part of the holdings. over the years, the adobe was added to. there have been many owners, from the first spanish grantees to owners during the mexican period and the american period. everybody who live here added what they needed.
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the original adobe is completely encased in additions and there are additions over in this direction where the bedrooms are in the main part of this bedroom is in the adobe, but the little sunroom was an addition from about 1909. over here, we have the library, also inside part of the original adobe. but the room beyond it, the music room, is outside of the adobe. it is rather an organic structure that grew to suit the families and cultures living inside it. right now, we are in the music room of the ranch house. this is a room that is outside of the adobe core. it was added to the house by john and susan bixby when they lived here in the 1870's and 1880's. john and susan bixby were the
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first bixby's to ranch here. the bixby family was a very large family, originally from new england, from maine, and they came out here right after the gold rush with cousins, the flints, and they started out selling things to the miners. which the most successful people did at the gold rush. they had a butcher shop. then they started buying up some of the land that was here in california after california became part of the united states, and they started in central california, but eventually ended up down here in southern california, and first, they purchased a ranch here in long beach, which was one of the original holdings.
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joseph bixby lived there with his wife and he invited other bixby relatives to help him on the ranch as well as some of his wife's relatives. one of the guys who came out was john bixby. he was a young man from maine, he had been a schoolteacher, he had been a carpenter, cabinet maker, a varied background, but he was quite young when he arrived in california. when he was on the ranch, he was learning how to become a rancher. while there, he met his sister-in-law, susan hathaway, and he married her. when the adjoining rancho became available for sale, john and susan purchased it, along with partners. they began leasing the ranch in 1878 and purchased it with their partners in 1881.
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john and susan bixby had two children, a son and a daughter. after inheriting the ranch from their parents, susanna and fred tried operating the ranch together. didn't work out so well, so they divided the property between them and fred bixby inherited the ranch house in the central part of rancho los alamitos and he continued to ranch here. ranging cattle. he did not continue any sheep operation. fred bixby acquired other ranches throughout california and arizona and mostly was engaged in cattle ranching. however, he also had a soft spot for horses. particularly, big, draft horses which were detractors of those days.
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horses.champion he kept his stallions at this ranch and he kept the mares at the coast at point conception. he had quite a horse breeding operation going on in addition to it being a cattle ranch. we have two shire horses on the ranch today. only 7.5 acres left. at the time he passed away, he had, i beleive it was the largest shire horse breeding operation west of the mississippi. unfortunately, there were not any buyers of horses after he died. some were sold to other breeders, but most of the rest were just sold off, did not continue. the last bixby to live here at the ranch was fred bixby's wife and she passed away in 1961.
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their children -- they had four children -- got together and talked about it and they decided that this should become an historic site available to all of the people of california. generations before, even susan bixby had the sense of the history of this place and even when she was making repairs and additions, it was with the history of the place in mind. even 100 years before it was donated to the city of long beach, there was a sense of the history of the place. the final donation to the city of long beach was made in 1968 and the family donated 7.5 acres to the city and all the buildings, the contents of those buildings, about 95% of the furnishings that you see inside
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the ranch house are original to the family. this is the way they lived and this is the way it looked while they were here. some of the barns were just a little bit outside the limits of the 7.5 acres. except for the horse barn, all of the barns were moved in just a little bit closer. originally the city did a arrangement of the barns. we completed a restoration in 2014 to align the barns in a more functional relationship to each other in a more gridlike pattern. the bixbys did make a lot of changes to the grounds. very early, they had gardens here, but back then, you have to hand water everything. so, you are careful about what you chose to grow here and how much labor it was going to take.
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you also had animals here. you had to have senses of where will come and eat whatever you had planted. john and susan bixby put in the first extensive gardens here, and in fact the gardens just off of this room, called the old garden, were installed by john and susan bixby. when fred and florence took over here, florence began slowly expanding the gardens. but one of the things that happened here in long beach in the early 1920's, was the discovery of oil. and because the bixby's were very large landowners in long beach, a lot of the oil was under their land. this gave them a lot more income to play with than just the ranch would provide. so, florence bixby was able to
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hire some of the premier landscape architects of the early 1920's, including the olmsted brothers. and other noted placement in southern california. we have four acres of beautiful landscaped gardens. >> there are many levels. one of the things that is important is that you get some relief from being in an environment. the visitor experience is not terrifically structured. you can come and just be in the gardens and not do anything beyond that. you can come and decide just to take a house tour. so, we try to keep it as unstructured and interesting as we can so people can take what
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they want from their visit. our city store staff recently traveled to long beach, california to learn about its rich history. learn more about long beach and other stops at /citiestour. you're watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend. >> up next, historian jack rakove on interpreting the u.s. constitution. he is the author of several books. one has the 1997 pulitzer prize for u.s. history. this lecture is about one hour, 15 minutes.


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