In late June, Rancho Los Cerritos installed the second in a series of special exhibits in the library display case that commemorates the demisemiseptcentennial. (175th anniversary) of the adobe’s construction (built in 1844). This latest display focuses on the time from John Temple’s sale of the Rancho to the Bixbys and the remarkably multi-cultural sheep ranching period here at the site. Nevada Evers, RLC’s (longest-running!) curatorial volunteer intern researched, developed, and installed the exhibit.
Here is a brief description of what you will find in this display:
“While the Bixbys played a very important role in the Rancho’s history, this display is intended to convey the fact that the Rancho required people of all different backgrounds and skill-sets to run properly. The exhibit is arranged in sections highlighting the contributions of several distinct groups. The bottom level tells the story of the Bixbys. In 1853, Flint, Bixby & Co. was founded and several of the men traveled back east to purchase 1,880 sheep in Illinois. Illustrative of this large transaction is Lewellyn Bixby’s wallet, currently on display. Furthermore, many of the details we know about the journey come from Dr. Thomas Flint’s journal. Once the Bixbys had purchased the Rancho in 1866, it was managed by Jotham Bixby, depicted in a photographic portrait, circa 1870. On display, we also have his signature stamp with which he would sign important documents. On the middle shelf, the work of Basque sheepherders and Mexican sheep shearers is highlighted. The Rancho employed many French Basques who came to California for the Gold Rush, but became renowned for their skill with sheep. While not all sheep shearers employed by the Rancho were Mexican, they made up a large number. Twice per year these men would skillfully clip the Rancho’s sheep with their shears. They were paid with a copper token for each fleece. These were exchanged for money at the end of every week. The exhibit also features a photograph of the sheep being dipped in a chemical bath after shearing to prevent bug and parasite infestation. The top shelf showcases the importance of Chinese workers. The cooks Ying and Fan served three meals a day for the Bixby family, as well as for all the ranch hands. They also took care of all the Rancho’s laundry, as showcased by the coal iron and laundry brush.”
There is a more complete informational document about the exhibit available in the Visitor Center. Stop by and see this exhibit for a limited time only!