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Living History Extends Beyond the Rancho Walls
Mrs. Fanny Bixby Spencer While it is not unusual to see an old Ford Model-T driving down the streets of Long Beach, it is not very often that the driver of the vehicle looks as if they were from the same time period as the car. Marcia Harris, a school tour volunteer and living history docent for Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site (4600 Virginia Road, Long Beach), takes her character beyond the Rancho walls, as she can occasionally be seen dressed in Victorian style clothing, driving her treasured 1926 Ford Model-T through the modern streets of Bixby Knolls on her way to volunteer at the Rancho. In fact, it was the character she plays as Fanny Bixby Spencer that prompted her to buy the classic vehicle. The youngest daughter of Long Beach pioneer Jotham Bixby, Fanny served as the first police matron in both Long Beach and the United States. She, was also particularly interested in Fords. For Marcia this presented an opportunity she couldn’t pass up: she had found a good excuse to nourish her love of vintage cars while continuing to portray Fanny Bixby Spencer and bring history to life at the Rancho! As Marcia said, "This pick up truck is 4 years prior to Fanny’s date of death so I could use it telling the most stories about Fanny’s years and I didn’t think a horse and buggy would work in my home…I always wanted a Model-T. When one became available like Fanny had on her Farm in Costa Mesa and the fact that it had other historical connections, I made the decision to go for it!"

On Sunday, June 29 from 1:00-4:00 p.m., visitors are invited to Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site for a free Living History Tour of the 164 year-old adobe. They will have the opportunity to meet Marcia’s character and experience the wonders of going back in time to an actual working ranch. And if they’re lucky, they might spot Mrs. Fanny Bixby Spencer driving to the Rancho in her 1926 Ford Model-T. Among some of the other "living" history tour guides will be Margaret Bixby, who will discuss family life on a 19th century ranch, Charlie Emerson, the family blacksmith who will take visitors on an exploration of the working ranch, and Llewellyn Bixby, who will talk about how the crumbling adobe was transformed into a modern home in the 1930s. Through their own personal experiences, these "living" history characters will transport visitors back in time to somewhere between 1840-1940.

Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site is located at 4600 Virginia Road, Long Beach, CA 90807. Tours are free and will leave every half hour, with the last tour beginning at 4:00 p.m. For more information, please call Rancho Los Cerritos at (562) 570-1755 or visit us at