San Bernardino County
Closely applying himself to the work of his profession, Grant Holcomb is classed with the most talented and successful lawyers of San Bernardino, his native city, and represents the third generation of the family in California. Born October 8, 1888, he is a son of William W. Holcomb and a grandson of William F. Holcomb, the discoverer of Holcomb Valley, a spot in the San Bernardino mountains now known for its picturesque character and setting.
It was in 1849 that William F. Holcomb crossed the plains to California. Of him it was said: “He was a fine type of the frontiersman, one accustomed to the hardships of a lonely mountain in the lonely desert, and pursuing fortune for the sake of the adventure rather than the money itself. When he uncovered the placer gold deposits in the valley that now bears his name he did more than anyone else to attract people to San Bernardino County. Within six months after his discovery there were two thousand men in the valley. This valley lies in the adjacent mountains, just north of Bear Valley, now the great summer resort of Southern California. 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 eight million dollars were taken. He sold a third interest in this property for one thousand dollars, and afterward, in relating the experience, he referred with a quiet humor rather than any bitterness to the fact that he was cheated out of half the amount of the sale. His partner at the time was Dick Gird, discoverer of the mines at Tombstone, Arizona. William F. Holcomb, after the discovery of gold in Holcomb Valley, worked successfully at mining for several years. He was then elected county clerk, treasurer and assessor. This office he filled for several terms. He was a type of official who was not hampered by traditions or precedents, and he was guided first of all by the necessity of getting the thing done required by his official duty. Among other duties, he had to levy and collect the personal tax. When the railroad refused to pay, this man of action secured some logging chains and, accompanied by a number of deputy sheriffs, went to the Santa Fe depot and proceeded to make an attachment. The most available property was a locomotive standing on the main track in front of the depot. The wheels were secured with the chains and he placed padlocks on them and then left the deputies in charge until the law should be complied with. This summary action naturally caused great excitement among railroad officials, and there was a tremendous buzzing of telegraph wires until the necessary orders could be complied with for paying off the tax. This incident was in a manner characteristic of the west, and especially of the upright and straightforward character of William F. Holcomb.
“This splendid old pioneer died about 1900. He married Nancy Stewart at San Bernardino. She had come across the plains with her father from Utah.”
Their son, William Winfield Holcomb, was born in San Bernardino and attended the local schools. He served as a deputy clerk under his father, afterward devoting many years to the lumber business, and subsequently was a dealer in feed and fuel. He then resumed an official routine as deputy sheriff and is now acting as bailiff of the superior court of San Bernardino. In Santa Maria, California, he married Miss Isabella Grant, a native of San Bernardino and a daughter of John and Margaret (Nish) Grant, whose farm was utilized for the raising of cattle as well as the growing of the crops best adapted to this region.
Grant Holcomb, an only child, was graduated from the San Bernardino high school in 1907, soon afterward matriculating in Leland Stanford University, from which he won the A. B. degree in 1911 and that of J. D. in 1913. Admitted to the bar in 1913, he at once joined the legal fraternity of San Bernardino, which has been the scene of his professional labors for nearly two decades. His suite of offices is in the Andreson Building and he has a large clientele. While a general practitioner, he does considerable probate work, excelling in that department of the law. Outside the path of his profession he has served as a director of the California State Bank, the Gill Storage Battery Company, the San Bernardino Building & Loan Association, and on the advisory board of the Bank of America National Trust & Savings Association.
On June 15, 1916, at San Francisco, Mr. Holcomb married Miss Eleanor Frances Burkham, a native of California and a daughter of S. B. and M. L. Burkham, of Bodie. In the early days Mr. Burkham owned the stage line and the general store at Bodie, and operated a stage between Bodie and Carson City, Nevada, where the transportation of passengers and mail was constantly beset by the danger of highwaymen. Mrs. Holcomb was graduated from Sanford University as a member of the class of 1914, receiving the A. B. degree. By her marriage she became the mother of four children: Grant, Jr., Kathryn Lee, William Robert and Theodore. Mrs. Holcomb passed away in 1928. She was a member of the Young Women’s Christian Association and a director of the Woman’s Club of San Bernardino. For his second wife Mr. Holcomb chose Miss Beulah Hartman, to whom he was married in 1931.
In religious belief Mr. Holcomb is a Baptist and has served as treasurer of his church. A strong Republican, he has been active in behalf of the party and is now vice chairman of the county central committee. Elected mayor of San Bernardino, he served from 1926 until 1928 and gave to the city a progressive, efficient administration, productive of much good. Former he was president of the San Bernardino Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the committee that secured the funds for the erection and equipment of the Sisters’ Hospital. In the work of the San Bernardino Young Men’s Christian Association he takes a keen interest which finds tangible expression as its president. As a youth he gained knowledge of military tactics, joining the National Guard while in high school. He became a charter member and director of the San Bernardino Rotary Club, with which he is still connected, and is a Knight Templar Mason, an Elk and an Odd Fellow. His college fraternity is Delta Chi. Steadily progressing, Mr. Holcomb has attained high standing in his profession, as indicated in the fact that he is a member of the advisory committee of the state bar to the judicial council. He also belongs to the San Bernardino County Bar Association and the American Bar Association.
Transcribed by V. Gerald Iaquinta.
Source: California of the South Vol. III, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 123-126, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles, Indianapolis. 1933.
© 2012 V. Gerald Iaquinta.