May 4, 1860 - Billy Holcomb and Gold

 William Francis "Billy" Holcomb (1831-1909)             Gold Rocker Box used by Billy Holcomb in his quest for gold

William F. Holcomb was a noted hunter and had been hired to supply meat for the Bear Valley miners.  On May 4, 1860, while tracking a grizzly bear that he had wounded the day before, he chipped off a piece of rock and discovered it contained sizable chunks of gold.

This discovery occurred five miles north of Bear Valley in what is now called Holcomb Valley and started the biggest gold rush southern California had seen.  Within six months there were over 2,000 men in the valley.  Soon the boom town of Belleville was filled with log cabins, stores, saloons and dance halls. 

William F. Holcomb in his adventures as a hunter and miner prospected over nearly all the country from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Arizona.  He was one of the discoverers of the famous Vulture Mine in Arizona, from which more than $8,000,000 were taken.

After working successfully in mining for several years Holcomb was elected as San Bernardino County Clerk, Treasurer and Assessor.  This office he filled for several terms.  His son, Grant, and grandson, W. R. "Bob" Holcomb, both became mayor of San Bernardino.

The rocker box seen in the above photo is in the San Bernardino History & Railroad Museum.