Historical society hosts city ‘founder’

The woman who, along with her husband, helped get Costa Mesa its name, will make an appearance this weekend.

Fanny Bixby Spencer, as portrayed by Marcia Lee Harris, will stop by the Costa Mesa Historical Society, 1870 Anaheim Ave., for a free presentation at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Spencer, the last daughter born of the influential Bixby family of Long Beach, lived from 1879 to 1930. She and her husband sponsored the contest that eventually gave Costa Mesa its name in 1920.

Before moving to Orange County, Spencer led a “boldly independent, egalitarian lifestyle in an age where women’s lives were largely confined to domesticity,” according to Harris’ recently published book, “Fanny Bixby Spencer: Long Beach’s Inspirational Firebrand.”

In her role with the Long Beach Police Department, Spencer also became America’s first policewoman.

Harris, a teacher of nearly 40 years, has been a Spencer historian for more than 10 years and is a volunteer at the Rancho Los Cerritos historic site in Long Beach.

For more information, visit or call (949) 631-5918.

—Bradley Zint

Twitter: @bradleyzint