California Seaports

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA: ° Alameda: ° Berkeley ° Oakland
Contra Costa County: ° Crockett, ° Martinez ° Port Costa
Marin County: ° Point Reyes, ° San Rafael (China Camp), ° Sausalito, ° Tiburon
° Mendocino ° Sacramento
San Francisco (City and County)
Solano: ° Benicia (St. Paul's Church), ° VallejoMare Island
Sonoma: ° Petaluma ° Fort Ross
CENTRAL & SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: ° Long Beach ° Los Angeles ° Monterey County ° San Diego County ° Santa Barbara ° Santa Monica ° The Channel Islands

Long Beach

Within 50 years of Columbus reaching America's shores, Cabrillo and his crew of explorers anchored off the present site of Long Beach.

Vast clouds of smoke were rolling high in the sky from burning grass and brush ashore where the native Indians were conducting one of their periodic rabbit drives. Cabrillo named the area “Bahia de los Fumos” — the Bay of Smokes.

Long Beach.Rancho Los Cerritos by Loretta Berner.The Rancho Los Cerritos and Rancho Los Alamitos were divided from the larger Rancho Los Nietos, which had been granted by the Spanish Empire's, King Carlos III in 1784 to a Spanish soldier, Manuel Nieto. The boundary between the two ranchos ran through the center of Signal Hill. A portion of western Long Beach was originally part of the Rancho San Pedro, and was in dispute for years, due to flooding changing the Los Angeles River boundary, between Juan Jose Dominguez and Manuel Nieto's ranchos.

Rancho Los Cerritos was bought in 1843 by John Temple, a Yankee who had come to California in 1827. Soon after he built what is now known as the "Los Cerritos Ranch House," an adobe which still stands and 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.

In 1866 Temple sold Rancho Los Cerritos to the Northern California sheep-raising firm of Flint, Bixby & Co. for $20,000. To manage Los Cerritos, the company selected Lewellyn's brother Jotham Bixby, the "Father of Long Beach", to manage their southern ranch, and three years later Jotham bought into the property and would later form the Bixby Land Company. In 1880, Bixby sold 4,000 acres of the Rancho to William E. Willmore, in hopes of creating a farm community, Willmore City. He failed and was bought out by a Los Angeles syndicate the Long Beach Land and Water Company. They changed the name of the community to "Long Beach", which was incorporated as a city in 1888.

Nine years later, dissatisfaction with prohibition and high taxes led to an abortive and short-lived dis-incorporation. Before the year 1897 was out, the citizens voted to reincorporate, and Long Beach grew to a population of 1,500 and an area of three square miles by 1897.

Long Beach.Port Town. Defending the Harbor. George Cunningham

Probably even more influential in the development of the city was John W. Bixby, another Bixby cousin. After first working for his cousins at Los Cerritos, J. W. Bixby then leased land at Rancho Los Alamitos, and then put together a group consisting of himself and many influential leaders including the rest of the Bixbies to purchase the rancho. In addition to bringing innovative farming methods to the Alamitos John W. Bixby began the development of the Alamitos' 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. The town grew as a seaside and then as an oil, Navy, and port town.

The opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 was integral to the growth of the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors. Los Angeles' strategic position on America's West Coast meant that its harbor would quickly become the main ports o' call for Pacific and Atlantic trade; when the Ports of Long Beach was founded in 1911, it only solidified the dual seaports.

The Port of Long Beach is one of the world's largest shipping ports and today houses the luxury liner Queen Mary. Built in the United Kingdom in the 1930s, the Queen Mary’s rich history includes the Great Depression, World War II, the heyday of transatlantic travel during the late 40’s and 50’s and the eventual decline of ocean liners in the 60’s. Relocated to Long Beach, California in 1967, the Queen Mary is a historic reminder of a bygone era.


Immigration.Merchants of Grain. Merchants of Grain: 
The Power and Profits of the Five Giant Companies at the Center of the World's Food Supply
Five Companies at the Center of the World's Food Supply.
Dan Morgan
Details how a handful of families have controlled the worlds grain trade for centuries. A great piece for families that till the soil, but one that is even more important to the people who live in the city; and have no idea of the power and control that these families wield. 
From Captain John R. Sutton: "I am a captain on Mississippi River towboats. I have pushed millions of tons of grain down the Mississippi River for years. But I never really understood the gobal impact of the world's grain company's until I read this book."

Immigration.Family Skeletons.Family Skeletons: Exploring the Lives of Our Disreputable AncestorsFamily Skeletons.
Simon Fowler, Ruth Paley
Most families have a skeleton. You may have already discovered yours via the grapevine or your own research. Or you may simply be intrigued by the dark side of our past. This popular history explores the behaviour of our disreputable ancestors from the unfortunate to the criminal, and introduces a host of colourful characters including 17th century witches, 18th century 'mollies' and Victorian baby farmers. Thematically arranged by skeleton, the text also describes how society punished and provided for its 'offenders' - as well as the changing attitudes that could ultimately bring acceptance.

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Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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