Rancho Los Alamitos is located on the boundary between Los Angeles and Orange counties in southern California. It's a portion of a Spanish land grant that, late in the nineteenth century, was purchased by members of the Bixby family who lived there and farmed the land. The ranch was surrounded by one of the richest agricultural areas in the country and it became a center of family ranching operations that included additional land holdings in other parts of California and Arizona.
The narrators in this series lived and worked on the ranch. When the oldest narrators arrived early in the twentieth century, the ranch was out in the country and surrounded by fields of truck gardens and pastures for horses, cattle and sheep. Fred Bixby, his wife Florence, and their children, lived on the ranch land he had inherited from his father; they employed farm laborers, often recruited from the Mexican state of Michoacan, on their home place and rented out some of their land to other farmers.
Nearby, on another part of the land Bixby's father once owned, the town of Los Alamitos was created around a factory that made sugar from beets. Some of the workers on Bixby's ranch, and members of their extended families, lived there. It was also home to sugar beet farmers from Belgium, and heir children grew up and went to school with those who grew up on Bixby's ranch. Other farmers in the area came from Japan.
As time passed, the city of Long Beach, and later other cities in adjacent Orange County, grew larger and suburban homes crowded out farmland. These developments were accelerated by the discovery of oil nearby on Signal Hill in 1921 and, by the mid 1920s, right on some of the ranch land. Revenue from the oil allowed the Bixbys to maintain their agricultural life style until after the end of the Second World War, despite the growth of surrounding cities and suburbs.
The Bixbys children moved away to other parts of California, but still visited often. One of their granddaughters, Joan Hotchkis, who grew up in San Marino, close enough to the ranch for weekend visits, collected this series of interviews with narrators who lived and worked on her grandparent's ranch.