The Bixby name dates back to the 1850s in California, when the family’s pioneering ancestors prospected for gold and operated service business to support the booming Gold Rush. It was in 1853 that Flint, Bixby & Company was formed, acquired 2,000 head of sheep and drove the herd cross-country to what is now Hollister, California.
Recognizing the rising demand for wool, the company bought Rancho San Justo in 1855 to accommodate the growing herds. Flint, Bixby & Co. prospered as demand for wool increased during the Civil War, and the men expanded their land holdings with the 1866 purchase of Rancho Los Cerritos. Jotham Bixby, who had been managing Los Cerritos, exercised a purchase option in 1869, and his firm, J. Bixby & Co., operated the property as half owner along with Flint, Bixby & Co. A year later another cousin, John Bixby, came west to help.
John Bixby worked with Jotham at Los Cerritos until he leased a ranch of his own, the adjacent Rancho Los Alamitos, and moved there with his family in 1878. John Bixby went on to purchase the land with several partners, including J. Bixby & Co. and Isias Hellman, president of Farmers & Merchants Bank in Los Angeles. Each partner owned one third of the ranch, and John lived there with his family and managed the property under the name of J.W. Bixby & Co.
John Bixby died in 1887, one year before the Alamitos Land Company was formed to subdivide land and sell parcels for residential development. Shortly before John's estate was settled in 1891, Rancho Los Alamitos was further divided into three parts. One of the three remaining parcels went to John’s heirs, another went to Hellman and the third went to J. Bixby & Co. The J. Bixby & Co. parcel would later become the initial holdings of Bixby Land Company.
Founded June 13, 1896, Bixby Land Company’s first project was to subdivide a portion of land to grow and process sugar beets, land that eventually would become the City of Los Alamitos. Bixby Land Company evolved from ranching and agriculture to commercial development, building the first Sears store in the Long Beach area to accommodate automobiles in 1928. Bixby built some of the first gas stations for General Petroleum, Shell and Texaco, and developed business parks, car dealerships, hotels and shopping centers.
Land once owned or controlled by members of the Bixby family evolved to become the Palos Verdes Peninsula and the cities of Long Beach, Los Alamitos, Seal Beach, Bellflower and Paramount. The family and its associated companies played a significant role in the development of the Los Angeles basin throughout the past century.