Arthur F. Tomlinson

d. 22 November 1922
     Arthur F. Tomlinson married Clara Jane Holcombe, daughter of William W. Holcombe and Margaret Wright. Arthur F. Tomlinson died on 22 November 1922 at 47 W. 48th St, New York City, NY.

Clara Tomlinson

     Clara Tomlinson was born at New York City, NY. She was the daughter of Arthur F. Tomlinson and Clara Jane Holcombe.

Arthur Tomlinson

     Arthur Tomlinson was born at New York City, NY. He was the son of Arthur F. Tomlinson and Clara Jane Holcombe.

Ethel Tomlinson

     Ethel Tomlinson was the daughter of Arthur F. Tomlinson and Clara Jane Holcombe.

Robert Tomlinson

     Robert Tomlinson was the son of Arthur F. Tomlinson and Clara Jane Holcombe.

Edna Tomlinson

     Edna Tomlinson was the daughter of Arthur F. Tomlinson and Clara Jane Holcombe.

David Franklin Culver

d. 1897
     David Franklin Culver married Elizabeth Holcombe, daughter of William W. Holcombe and Margaret Wright, in 1875. David Franklin Culver died in 1897.

Josephine Culver

     Josephine Culver was the daughter of David Franklin Culver and Elizabeth Holcombe.

Robert Culver

     Robert Culver was the son of David Franklin Culver and Elizabeth Holcombe.

David Franklin Culver II

     David Franklin Culver II was the son of David Franklin Culver and Elizabeth Holcombe.

(?) Taaffe

     (?) Taaffe married Caroline Holcombe, daughter of William W. Holcombe and Margaret Wright, at San Jose, Santa Clara Co., CA.

William Cherry

b. 8 February 1835, d. 3 June 1909
     William was a union soldier. William Cherry was born on 8 February 1835. He married Jane Holcombe, daughter of Grove Catlin Holcombe and Sarah Dibble, at Vernon, Trumbull Co., OH. William Cherry died on 3 June 1909 at Stromsburg, Polk Co., NE, at age 74.

Children of William Cherry and Jane Holcombe

Alice Cherry

b. 23 March 1869
     Alice Cherry was born on 23 March 1869 at Vernon, Trumbull Co., OH. She was the daughter of William Cherry and Jane Holcombe.

Frank Summers Cherry

b. 18 September 1873
     Frank Summers Cherry was born on 18 September 1873 at Darlington, Lafayette Co., WI. He was the son of William Cherry and Jane Holcombe.

Hazel Cherry

b. 18 December 1877, d. 11 March 1888
     Hazel Cherry was born on 18 December 1877 at Stromsburg, Polk Co., NE. She was the daughter of William Cherry and Jane Holcombe. Hazel Cherry died on 11 March 1888 at age 10.

Laura E. Griswold

b. 15 February 1802, d. 5 May 1868
     Laura E. Griswold was also known as Laura Jane Frances Griswold.1 She was born on 15 February 1802 at Granby, Hartford Co., CT.1 She was the daughter of Alexander Griswold II and Alice Bascomb. Laura E. Griswold married Dryden Holcombe, son of Grove Catlin Holcombe and Aurelia Holcombe. Laura E. Griswold died on 5 May 1868 at Vernon, Trumbull Co., OH, at age 66; of a liver complaint.2 She was buried at Giddings-Brown Cemetery, Vernon Twp., Trumbull Co., OH.2

McPherson says that Laura E. , daughter of Alexander Griswold II is the sister of Almira Griswold who married Hiram Holcombe, but McPherson gives conflicting and incomplete data.

Children of Laura E. Griswold and Dryden Holcombe


  1. [S377] Coralee Griswold Griswold 6 & 7 Vol 1, Page 440.
  2. [S542] Leslie Albin, "Dryden Holcombe," e-mail to James H. Holcombe, 17 September 1999.

Hiram D. Holcombe1

b. 18 July 1834, d. 25 June 1900
     Hiram D. Holcombe was born on 18 July 1834 at Vernon Twp., Trumbull Co., OH. He was the son of Dryden Holcombe and Laura E. Griswold. Hiram D. Holcombe married Mary M. Gridley, daughter of Albert Gridley and Maria Palmer, on 9 October 1857 at Cleveland, Cuyahoga Co., OH. Hiram D. Holcombe died on 25 June 1900 at Courtland, Trumbull Co., OH, at age 65. He was buried at Johnston Township Cemetery, Johnston, Trumbull Co., OH.2

Hiram owned a farm in Johnstonville Twp., Trumbull Co., Ohio, in its early settlement, his name being on a tract of the region for which an atlas was published in 1875; is recorded there in the 1860 Census as carpenter; later became a lawyer at Cortland, Trumbull Co., and served as mayor of the village.

Hiram and Mary were enumerated in the 1900 Cortland Village, Trumbull Co., OH, federal census, ED 94 page 14A. The census indicated that they had never had any children.

Additional information on Hiram was provided by Leslie Albin,, via e-mail on September 18, 1999.

At the time of the 1860 census, Hiram and Mary were living in Johnston, OH. On Sept. 2, 1864, Hiram became the last of his brothers to enlist in the Union Army. [1] He was promoted to corporal the same month in Co. D, 177th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, but soon fell ill and was hospitalized for extended periods at Spring Hill and Nashville. [1] His obituary nonetheless places him at the battles of Murfreesboro and Cape Fear [3], and another source adds the battle of Goldsville. [4] He was discharged with his unit at Greensboro,
SC, June 24, 1865. [1]

On his enlistment papers, Hiram gave his occupation as mechanic, [1] but he's listed as a carpenter on the 1860 census, and his obituary states that after the war, he moved to Warren, OH (the county seat of Trumbull Co.) and worked as a carpenter. [3] He soon began to "follow the real estate and insurance businesses" and became "one of Trumbull County's best known businessmen." [3]

He and Mary moved to Cortland, Trumbull Co., OH, in 1876, and Hiram served as the village's mayor (Republican) for multiple terms. [3] At the time of his death, he was a justice of the peace. [3] He was also one of the founding officers of the area's first Masonic Lodge in 1882 [13] and a member in the Elks and the Rebekah, leading the obit writer to the oxymoronic conclusion that Hiram was "prominent in secret society circles." [3] (Note: I've found
no mention of Hiram D.'s having been a lawyer.)

His widow's pension file contains an accounting of Hiram's property by his estate's administrator, T.H. Rose. Hiram and Mary's house and lot in Cortland, owned outright, was valued at $1,000; a second house rented out for $80 a year and 11 acres of farmland rented out for $15 a year. Sold to pay Hiram's debts of $5,755 were two other houses in Cortland with a combined price of $2,785 and a vacant lot that brought $50; a storeroom, $800; a house in Burghill, $375; a horse and buggy, $150; and farm tools and hay, $50. His life insurance paid out $5,000. [1]

(Note: One of Hiram and Mary's houses appears to still be standing--217 Grove Street, Cortland, built in 1885. Another near the intersection of Ohio Route 88 and Stoddard-Hayes Road may also still exist. [10, state survey of historic properties] Didn't get the chance to visit to verify.)

[1] Military service and pension records for the individual named, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., examined Aug./Sept. 1999.

[3] Obit. of H.D. Holcomb, Warren Daily Tribune, June 1900.

[4] Thomas Kachur, Historical Collection of Bazetta, Cortland, OH, 1983.

[10] The atlas collection of the Warren-Trumbull Co. Library, inc. Atlas and Directory of Trumbull Co.: Including a Directory of Freeholders and Official Register of the County (reprint of an 1899 atlas), Cleveland: American Atlas Co., 1979; Combination Atlas Map of Trumbull Co., Chicago: L. H. Everts, 1874; and Trumbull Co. Cadastral or Land Ownership Maps, 1830-1840-1850, ed.
Ruth Alle for Trumbull Co. Chapter, Ohio Genealogical Society, Evansville, IN: Whippoorwill Publications, 1985.

[13] Ethel Everett, Vernon, a Short History, 1798-1975 (a paper written in 1975), Warren-Trumbull Co. Library.

Children of Hiram D. Holcombe and Mary M. Gridley


  1. [S25] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, Holcombe Genealogy, Page 177.2/Item A-8-1-6-5-1-4-1.
  2. [S888] Find A Grave Memorial; memorial page for Hiram D Holcomb (Jul 1834–25 Jun 1900). Memorial no. 92741420, database and images:, accessed 15 Feb 2022, citing Johnston Township Cemetery, Johnston, Trumbull County, Ohio, USA; Maintained by: RH (contributor 47439023).

Virgil A. Holcombe1

b. circa 1836, d. 25 June 1863
     Virgil A. Holcombe was born circa 1836 at Vernon Twp., Trumbull Co., OH.2 He was the son of Dryden Holcombe and Laura E. Griswold. Virgil A. Holcombe married Maryett L. Reed, daughter of Charles Reed and Harriet A. (?), on 25 April 1859. Virgil A. Holcombe died on 25 June 1863 at Army Hospital, Readyville, Cannon Co., TN; of typhoid fever. He was buried at Stones River National Cemetery, Murfreesboro, Rutherford Co., TN.2

Virgil is recorded as a master carpenter in the 1860 census of Hubbard, Trumbull co., Ohio.

He enlisted on August 30, 1862, in Co. A, 41st Ohio Volunteer Infantry, giving his civilian occupation as master carpenter. He did not muster in when expected and was listed as a deserter until he musterd in October, 1862. He died of camp diarrhea and typhoid. He is buried in Tennessee, but the family placed a marker for him in the Giddings-Brown Cemetery, Kinsman-Orangeville Road, Vernon Township, Trumbull Co., OH.

According to an affidavit filed by the Reeds with Maryett's application for a widow's pension. [1] Virgil and Maryett had one child, who had died by the time Maryett (called "Ett" by the Holcombs [family letters] and sometimes spelling her name Maryetta or Maryette [1]) filed for a widow's pension in March 1864. [1] She married a second time, to a man named Fell, in 1867. [1]

(Note: There is a conflicting record at showing a Maryett Reed born Jan. 16, 1843, in Trumbull Co. to Charles Reed and Dorothy Buckley. The same database shows Virgil and his sibs being born both in East Granby, CT, AND Trumbull Co., OH. But it appears from very consistent Trumbull Co. and military records and from the 1860 census that all five sibs were born in Trumbull Co., Hiram in 1834 through Judson in 1842. On the names of Ett's parents, I'm inclined to trust the affidavit they swore out, but I suppose Harriet Reed could have been Charles' second wife and Dorothy Buckley Ett's biological mother.)

[1] Military service and pension records for the individual named, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., examined Aug./Sept. 1999.


  1. [S25] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, Holcombe Genealogy, Page 177.2/Item A-8-1-6-5-1-4-2.
  2. [S542] Leslie Albin, "Dryden Holcombe," e-mail to James H. Holcombe, 17 September 1999.

Caroline Dorothy Holcombe1

b. 1837, d. 7 November 1889
     Caroline Dorothy Holcombe was born in 1837 at Vernon Twp., Trumbull Co., OH.2 She was the daughter of Dryden Holcombe and Laura E. Griswold. Caroline Dorothy Holcombe married Michael Perringer, son of John Perringer and Mary (?), on 2 March 1853.2 Caroline Dorothy Holcombe died on 7 November 1889 at consumption, Bristol Twp., Trumbull Co., OH.

Like his father, Michael Perringer was a blacksmith and a farmer. [1] He enlisted in Co. B, 125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, on Sept. 30, 1862, and served as a teamster and as hostler to Col. Emerson Opdycke before being given a surgeon's discharge on June 11, 1863, after a serious illness. [1]

(Note: The surname is sometimes listed as Paringer or Berringer -- family lore says it was Boebinger before they emigrated.)

Caroline died at the farm in Bristol. [1] "In her death the community loses one that to know was to love, whose quiet Christian life was an example to all." [6] She is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery at Bristolville (her marker reads "Mother"). [2]

[1] Military service and pension records for the individual named, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., examined Aug./Sept. 1999.

[2] Personal visit to the grave site or other location discussed, Sept. 1999.

Children of Caroline Dorothy Holcombe and Michael Perringer


  1. [S25] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, Holcombe Genealogy, Page 177.2/Item A-8-1-6-5-1-4-3.
  2. [S542] Leslie Albin, "Dryden Holcombe," e-mail to James H. Holcombe, 17 September 1999.

Charles R. Holcombe

b. October 1839, d. after 3 December 1926
     Charles R. Holcombe was born in October 1839 at Vernon Twp., Trumbull Co., OH. He was the son of Dryden Holcombe and Laura E. Griswold. Charles R. Holcombe died after 3 December 1926. He was buried at East Linwood Cemetery, Boone Co., IA.

Additional information on Charles was provided by Leslie Albin,, via e-mail on September 18, 1999.

At different times in his live, he listed his occupation as carpenter, mechanic, and farmer.

He enlisted in Co. H of the 2nd Ohio Volunteer Cavalry on October 19, 1861 and while at Flat Rock in Indian Territory in July 1862, on short rations, with nothing but bad water to dirnk, fell ill along with many other "sunstuck" members of the company. While being treated at the army hospital at Fort Scott, Kansas, he contracted typhoid. After he began his recovery, he was transferred to the 6th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry (not assigned to any company) and eventually given a surgeon's discharge on February 26, 1863, because his health continued to be poor. [1]

In the autumn of 1869, Charles, Julia and their surviving child moved to Boone, Iowa. On December 3, 1926, a doctor reported to the Pension Bureau that the ailing 77-year-old was ot expected to ive out the winter. It was the last record in his pension file.

Local marriage records have Julia down as "Julia Wilber", but in an affidavit in his penion files, Charels states that the "-er" spelling is in error. [1]

[1] Military service and pension records for the individual named, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., examined Aug./Sept. 1999.

Children of Charles R. Holcombe and Juia R. Wilbur

Judson Barnes Holcombe1

b. 16 August 1842, d. 13 February 1864
     Judson enlisted in Co. A, 41st Ohio Volunteer Infantry, on August 15, 1862, giving his occupation as a farmer. He was severely wounded in the right thigh at the battle of Chicamauga, Ga., on September 19, 1863. He died of infection, "traumatic erysipelas," at the hospital at Nashville, and was interred at Nashville (grave 6290) A marker, inscribed for him stands in the Giddings-Brown Cemetery, Kinsman-Orangeville Road, Vernon Twp., Trumbull Co., OH, near his parents' and brother, Virgil's graves. Judson Barnes Holcombe was born on 16 August 1842 at Vernon Twp., Trumbull Co., OH. He was the son of Dryden Holcombe and Laura E. Griswold. Judson Barnes Holcombe died on 13 February 1864 at Nashville, TN, at age 21.


  1. [S25] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, Holcombe Genealogy, Page 178.1/Item A-8-1-6-5-1-4-5.

Mary M. Gridley

b. 18 October 1837, d. 10 May 1928
     Mary M. Gridley was born on 18 October 1837 at Johnston, Trumbull Co., OH. She was the daughter of Albert Gridley and Maria Palmer. Mary M. Gridley married Hiram D. Holcombe, son of Dryden Holcombe and Laura E. Griswold, on 9 October 1857 at Cleveland, Cuyahoga Co., OH. Mary M. Gridley died on 10 May 1928 at age 90. She was buried at Evergreen Cemetery, Johnston, Trumbull Co., OH.

Children of Mary M. Gridley and Hiram D. Holcombe

Ella Holcombe

b. 1859
     Ella Holcombe was born in 1859 at OH. She was the daughter of Hiram D. Holcombe and Mary M. Gridley.

Maryett L. Reed

     Maryett L. Reed was born at PA. She was the daughter of Charles Reed and Harriet A. (?) Maryett L. Reed married Virgil A. Holcombe, son of Dryden Holcombe and Laura E. Griswold, on 25 April 1859. Maryett L. Reed married (?) Fell in 1867.1


  1. [S542] Leslie Albin, "Dryden Holcombe," e-mail to James H. Holcombe, 17 September 1999.

Michael Perringer

b. 1830, d. 12 March 1895
     Michael Perringer was born in 1830 at Germany. He was the son of John Perringer and Mary (?) Michael Perringer married Caroline Dorothy Holcombe, daughter of Dryden Holcombe and Laura E. Griswold, on 2 March 1853.1 Michael Perringer married Rebecca Burns on 30 August 1893.1 Michael Perringer died on 12 March 1895 at heart disease.1 He was buried at Evergreen Cemetery, Bristolville, Trumbull Co., OH; in the Perringer plot.1

Children of Michael Perringer and Caroline Dorothy Holcombe


  1. [S542] Leslie Albin, "Dryden Holcombe," e-mail to James H. Holcombe, 17 September 1999.

Antoinette Casandra Thompson

b. 1813, d. 14 May 1906
     Antoinette Casandra Thompson was born in 1813 at NY.1,2 She was the daughter of William Thompson and Elsie Hampton. Antoinette Casandra Thompson married John Flavel Holcombe, son of Grove Catlin Holcombe and Aurelia Holcombe.1 Antoinette Casandra Thompson died on 14 May 1906 at Yuba Co., CA; "Rabbit Creek" says 1901.1,2 She was buried at Keystone Cemetery, Dobbins, Yuba Co., CA.3

Children of Antoinette Casandra Thompson and John Flavel Holcombe


  1. [S579] Jeanne S. Thornton, "Application 460050, NSDAR."
  2. [S810] Edwin W. Strickland II, William Buell, 1-8, page 308.
  3. [S807] Find A Grave, online, memorial ID 3846206.

Grove Robert Holcombe1

b. 1 July 1838, d. 10 December 1905
     Grove Robert Holcombe was born on 1 July 1838 at Vernon, Trumbull Co., OH.2,3 He was the son of John Flavel Holcombe and Antoinette Casandra Thompson. Grove Robert Holcombe married Sarah Ann Lyell, daughter of John W. Lyell and Lucy (?), on 4 June 1865 at Trukee Meadows, NV.2 Grove Robert Holcombe died on 10 December 1905 at Reno, Washoe Co., NV, at age 67.2,4 He was buried at Mountain View Cemetery, Reno, Washoe Co., NV.4

     Thesis Submitted to Dr. Weir - History 65
     Research Course in Nevada History
     JANET HOLCOMB - October 9, 1939


The foregoing history of the Holcombs in Washoe County represents an initial attempt to organize facts and memories into a complete account of the activities of the family in this section of Nevada. The material has been selected from the various histories of Nevada, personal documents, and statements of several members of the family, as well as several other sources.

The purpose of the writer is to make this small contribution to the eventful History of the State of Nevada, and at the same time, present an accurate account of this particular family.
If there seems to be insignificant or unimportant material included, this may be explained by the accompanying desire to give due recognition to all of the present available data. On the other hand, if material has been excluded, it is with sincere regret.

In as far as it is known, the material which is included is authentic, and the attempt has been made to present it impartially and impersonally in the hope that it may serve as the basis for additional research into our history.


Sarah Ann Lyell Holcomb died at the family home, following a long illness, in August, 1921

The mistake has been made of referring to the site known as Mill Canyon as "Mills Canyon." This canyon was named because it was the location of an early sawmill.


The Background of Grove Robert Holcomb

"Washoe County figures as one of the most attractive, progressive and prosperous divisions of the state of Neveada, justly claiming a high order of citizenship and a spirit of enterprise which is certain to conserve consecutive development and marked advancement in the material upbuilding of the section. The county has been and is signally favored in the class of men who have controlled its affairs in official capacity, and in this connection, the subject of this biography demands representation as one who has served the county faithfully and well in positions of distinct trust and responsibility. (History of Nevada, Wren, Page 498)

Grove Robert Holcomb figured as one of Truckee Meadows' prominent pioneers, and it is the purpose of his grandaughter to give recognition to the part he and his family played in the history and the development of this valley.

Grove Holcomb was born at Mount Vernon, Trumbull County, Ohio, on July 1, 1838. He was a descendant of Andrew Holcombe who arrived in the Barbardos from England in 1687 and who later settled in the states. His descendant was Benajah Holcombe, Captain of the 18th Militia, who was born in 1741 (Connecticut Men in the Revelution and War of 1812, pages 472, 548 and 624)

John F. Holcomb, Groves father, was a native of Hartford, Connecticut (The Holcombs of the World by Jesse M. Seaver) John Holcomb moved to Ohio at an early epoch in the development of that state. There he became acquainted with and married Miss Antoinette Thompson. After residing in the Buckeye state for a number of years, they moved to Iowa and later to Missouri. While living there, Mr. Holcomb learned of the discovery of gold in California in 1848, and the report seemed to indicate that wealth could be rapidly secured there because of the abundance of the precious metal. He resolved to try his luck on the Pacific Coast. Accordingly, in 1849 he went to the gold diggings of California and followed mining in the Shasta district, meeting with fair success. He returned to his home by the water route, across the Isthmus of Panama, and brought his family west in 1652. It was necessary that the party be protected by military escort over many miles of the journey because of the serious dangers threatened by Indians. Grove drove one of the ox teams, and his father was the captain of the entourage.

The boy was then only fourteen years old, and had already received what little formal education he had. The family settled at what was at that time known as Frenchtown, in Yuba County, California. They homesteaded some land and soon owned the site where the town of Gridley now stands. Upon his father's death, Grove traded that land for a span of horses. Slowly the father and his two sons built up a herd of cattle. The family became well known in the district and made many friends. Grove was popular with all classes of people. It was at this time, during associations with Spanish settlers, that the young man gained fluent command of the Spanish language. All went well for a time, but during the season of 1861-1862 adisastrous flood swept through Gridley where the herd was wintering and all of the cattle were drowned. In the same year, July, 1861---the father died. Because of the difficulties at the Yuba County homestead and also tales of the romance of Virginia City, Grove decided to leave home and seek employment in Nevada. Thus, the young adventurous lad began his three day journey from Frenchtown to Carson City on foot, with his blankets on his back.

His first work in Nevada was at a sawmill located on Clear Creek, Ormbsy County, where he earned fifty dollars a month and his board. Realizing the importance of the lumber business in the region, the resourceful Grove entered into a partnership with four lumbermen. A Mr. Neil operated the Clear Creek sawmill, a Mr. Gray a sawmill on Thomas Creek, and Grove was at Mills Canyon on Evans Creek. The latter two sites were located in the Mount Rose area a few miles west of Huffaker's. The fourth partner, a man named Hoff, tended to the selling and collecting end of the business at the lumber yards in Virginia City, while the other men managed the cutting and getting out of the timber at the respective mills. Much of the wood which the partnership furnished was used in-the construction of mines and buildings in the Virginia community. Business went well for many months, but Hoff was a dishonest man and soon sold everything he could and with the cash he had, left the state, owing thousands of dollars in unpaid bills.

A gentleman who became a very close friend of the Holcombe, familiarly called "Uncle Billy" Mc Kay, to whom Mr. Hoff owed a considerable sum, resolved to collect some of the debts. Mr. McKay, traveling by Pony Express stages, followed the fraudulent Hoff to New York, and at the point of a gun, forced him to pay the personal debt. No one else was able to collect from Hoff, however. Grove worked for several years, getting out timber and hauling it by ox team to Virginia City, in a determined effort to pay off the debts, assisted by Mr. Neil. Mr. Gray, in the meantime, had gone to Mexico. It was while Grove was still engaged in this tedious undertaking that he married Sarah Ann Lyell, an attractive young pioneer woman.

Background of Sarah Ann Lyell

Sarah Ann Lyell, born in Lima, Illinois on December 21, 1844, whose ancestors came from France and fought in the early French-American wars, and whose immediate family emigrated by ox team from Missouri, had arrived in the Truckee Meadows soon after Grove's arrival Sarah's family, consisting of her father, John Lyell, her mother, four brothers, and a married sister, Celatha and her husband, Tom Lambrith, started for California in April, 1863. Sarah, or "Sally" as she was most often called, soon found the slow rocking wagons were not made for easy or comfortable riding. She could only ride a few miles at a time without being ill from the continual swaying. She virtually walked the whole distance across the plains.

Not many days after the wagon train had crossed the state line into Iowa, the baby brother, George, contracted. the dreaded disease called 'spotted fever'. He lingered for a few days and finally died as the train neared Des Moines. He was buried when they camped that night on the plains, and a fire was built over his little grave. In the morning the teams and wagons were driven over the grave until all signs of it were obliterated. This was done in order to disguise it from Indians, as they often dug up bodies and mutilated them. Indiana made for constant danger and every precaution was taken at all times.

Near the Platt River in Nebraska, they came upon a family that had been dropped from a preceding wagon train because the husband had become too ill to travel. He also had spotted, or mountain fever. With the memory of little George still in their hearts, the members of the Lyell train could not bring themselves to abandon the family as the others had. They agreed to pitch camp and stay until the unfortunate man had recovered. This he soon did, and they all continued the slow but inspired journey, traveling at the rate of six miles per day.

Crossing the Platt River was as dangerous and almost as much dreaded as an Indian attack. The water was unusually high and swift. The huge clumsy wagons loaded with family possessions, food, and drinking water sometimes floated like corks and sometimes sank in midstream or were carried far down its course dragging horses and oxen, as the case might be, with them. The members of the Lyell train considered the task of how best to ford the river and received instructions from their leader. One rule that they were urged to abide by was to turn loose all of the extra stock---horses, cattle, or oxen---to swim across the river guided only by men on horseback whose job it was to keep animals swimming steadily, count and herd them until the wagons and teams had successfully crossed. A German family, proud possessors of a splendid team of black horses, disregarding orders, tied the blacks to the back of their wagon. In midstream the team tried to break loose and in the ensuing struggle upset the wagon. Someone quickly cut the horses loose and they swam ashore, and were all the family had left with which to continue their journey to California.

The Lyell family and most of the wagon train crossed the Nevada territory north of the Humboldt River with ox teams. Horses and other stock went south of the Humboldt, planning to arrive in Dayton, because of the shortage of water on the north trail. Oxen do not require as much water as do other stook. Tom Lambrith, Colatha's husband, went with the wagons going south and the members planned to meet in the Truckee Meadows and continue to the gold fields of 'California.

The wagons coming from the north crossed the Truckee River at Clark's station, came over the mountains at Chalk Bluff, east of the Meadows, and camped at a site now known as the Short Ranch which is located just below the foothills. After waiting a few days for the rest of the party, John Lyell became impatient and walked from the camp to Dayton by way of Virginia City. On his return, he found his family determined to settle in Truckee Meadows. Mrs. Lyell. could not be induced to leave. The older children, in the meantime, had found work and wanted to remain too. John sat for days with his head in his hands, bemoaning the fact that he had not reached his goal---California and the gold fields.

When the Lake Ditch, one of the principal irrigating canals of the community, was planned, John Lyell saw a future for Truckee Meadows, and in 1864, the year in which Nevada became a state, he homesteaded one hundred and twenty acres near Huffaker's Station. This land proved to be one of the most fertile sections.

This background and the experiences it provided with its hardships and adventure certainly had effects upon the character molding of Sarah Lyell. She had learned perseverance, loyalty, strength of mind, dignity, and was a true pioneer woman. She was an attractive and charming young lady and soon became very popular with the younger set. She was escorted to many of the parties given in the valley by Daniel C. Wheeler---a man who later became a prominent citizen in this region --- who was an ardent admirer of hers. Sarah was fond of him but she deplored the fact that he often drank. This fault was what led to her acquaintance with Grove Holcomb. At a dinner party, Dan insisted that she take a drink for his sake, and the handsome Grove, sitting near, said, "For my sake, do not take it.."

The Marriage of Grove Robert Holcomb and Sarah Lyell

On June 4, 1865, Sarah Ann Lyell and Grove Robert Holcomb were married. They obtained their license in Washoe City, which was at that time the county seat. Incidentally, it was moved to Reno by a special election, after much controversy, in 1870. The wedding took place at Huffaker's, and was performed by Jim Slingerland, then the Justice of the Peace.. The witnesses were Byrd Parrish, Sally's cousin, and Matilda Hill, her closest girlfriend. This was an especially significant wedding as Miss Lyell and Mr. Holcomb were the first white couple to be married in Truckee Meadows. After a two week's honeymoon in Virginia City, the Holcombs went to live at the sawmill and wood camp in Mills Canyon where Grove was still working to pay off the debts left by Hoff. They spent the winter there, having to walk to Huffaker's Station for supplies. Huffaker's Station was the center of activity in the valley for many years, being a stage and freight station, a general store, and a post office. It is said that the Holcombs' first sack of flour cost $15 --- the second cost $50! Grove carried the flour, and other supplies for that matter, all the way, back to their mountain home.

(The preceding material has practically all been obtained from Mrs. Kate Holcomb Mansfield and the material collected by Mrs. C. J. Thornton, also a granddaughter of Grove Holcomb.)


The young, energetic Grove Holcomb soon foresaw the possibilities afforded by the farm lands in Truckee Meadows. In 1869 he bought the 160 acres of what was the original site of the home ranch, located about a mile and a half west of Huffaker's. The land cost him $1150, or about seven dollars per acre. It would take forty times that to buy the same land today (1939). A man whose name was Levi Geer, from whom the land was purchased, had operated a truck garden on some of the property, and peddled his vegetables throughout the valley on packhorses.

Clearing of the newly acquired land got underway the next year, and as time went on and financial resources increased, more and more land, both arable and grazing, was added to the home ranch. Clearing the land meant a great deal more than just removing the rocks and burning the sagebrush on the property. Fences had to be built---many of them were of otherwise useless stones---, roads had to be made, ditches had to be dug, and trees planted. Grandmother Holcomb participated in the latter project. With money she earned making and selling butter she bought little trees, no larger than her little finger, from California. As it was impossible to divert water to them, she faithfully watered them with cups and buckets. Today those trees stand dignified and stately, providing shade, bearing fruit, and giving added beauty to the reclaimed land which constituted the Holcomb ranch.

Most of the clearing was done by Chinese labor. Many of these Orientals had come to America to work on the building of the Central Pacific Railroad, and after that great enterprise was completed they drifted around the country doing whatever they could, asking only little money for their services. There were, of course, no restrictions on Chinese immigration at that time. They also had a part in the construction of the early irrigating canals in the valley. Among these was the Last Chance Ditch, which the Holcombs owned for many years. The Chinese camped along the ditch, moving only when their work was far enough ahead of them. When the camp moved, the children would rummage through the 'spoils'. There are. still several little Chinese dishes in the family which were taken from the deserted camps.

The Holcombs engaged in agriculture and the raising of stock. Grandfather Holcomb was one of the first ranchers in the valley to engage in the raising of alfalfa page (History of Nevada, Volume II, Sam P. Davis, 1107). The excellent condition of his stock was a good indication of the quality of the hay, and several tons per acre were cut annually. This was made possible by the available water. As in most other parts of arid Nevada, irrigation is essential in the raising of all farm crops, and the Holcombs figured prominently in this phase of the history of the reclamation of Truckee Meadows.. They hold one of the first priority water rights in the valley, and had interests in several of the canals. As has been mentioned, they gained the controlling interest in the Last Chance Ditch, one of the largest in the district. When that ditch was built in l874. farmers believed it was their last opportunity to divert-water from the Truckee River, and it was consequently an important issue However, it was through the efforts of interested parties that an upstream storage dam was constructed at the outlet at Lake Tahoe, thus affording additional water to the stream and to the water users. But that did not settle the water problem, as it was vital throughout the history of the ranch.

Grove Holcomb became one of the most extensive landholders in the state, and after his death, much more land was added to the holdings. He was particularly noted as a stock man, owning some of the finest Durham cattle and purebred sires, and a high grade of sheep mostly of the Shropshire breed. Range land for the sheep was in the Mount Rose area and also in the eastern hills in the vicinity of Wadsworth. This stock provided a valuable source of income. Grandfather Holcomb had his market in Virginia City where for many years he owned a butcher shop. He slaughtered the animals at the ranch and then took them to the Divide. Ordinarily, he hauled the produce over the Geiger Grade. Stories are told of one of his favorite teams of horses; they had become so thoroughly acquainted with the routine that when a load had been delivered to the market in Virginia, their master would turn them around and they would return the fifteen or twenty miles home without a driver. "When the Geiger Grade was closed on account of drifting snow in winter, Mr. Holcomb shipped his beef by Virginia and Truckee train and went over the hill on horseback. It was a common custom for residents of this valley, wishing to negotiate the grade in winter, to ascertain if Holcomb got through." ("Holcomb Family Among Pioneers of Washoe County"
Mrs. Thurlow Douglas, Reno Evening Gazette, September 9, 1939) There were often dangers and hardships suffered on the trips between the ranch and Virginia City, especially in the winter time, as the road was not the fine planed highway that exists today.

It was typical of the Holcombs to ride and drive splendid looking, well-bred horses. Among their horses were several head of the well known "Joe Hooker" strain. "Mose Adams", a superb draft horse stallion, was a prize winner in State Fairs. All of the boys, as well as the girls, were excellent horsemen, --as much of their activity depended on their abilities to ride well. None of them, however, ever equaled their father's proficient skill as a cowboy. Furthermore, the stock was well cared for. The barns and stables were kept in good condition, and the equipment was of the best money could buy. Abuse of animals in any way was never tolerated.

Quoting from Thomas Wren's account of the Holcomb Ranch written just after the turn of the century, it is said, "The family home is a nice residence, near which are good barns and all the equipments for successfully raising stock. Indeed, the farm is one of the best in the states and is supplied with all modern conditions and constitutes one of the model farm properties of the twentieth century. Incidentally, a new home was built in 1881 with lumber from the dismantled flume which, during the early history of the valley, carried timber from the sawmills in the mountains to the west to Huffaker's Station. The timber was shipped by train from there.

As time went on, the family grew and became more and more prominent in the Truckee Meadows. Additional property was added to the holdings, and in an effort to account for the later developments, it is perhaps best that the intimate family be discussed as a unit.


A. Members and Traits

Grove Robert Holcomb was the father of eleven children, nine of whom were living at the time of his death. John Albert, or "Bert" as he was always called, was the first child. He was born in 1868, while the family was living at Mills Canyon, before they began their successful venture in agriculture. The story is told of how the brave young mother-to-be walked from Mills Canyon on snow shoes to the Tolles' Ranch, a distance of several miles. Mr. Tolles realized she needed help quickly and took her in his wagon to her mother's, where she stayed until after the baby's birth. Soon after Bert had started to walk, the Holcombs moved to the Lone Tree Ranch located near Tolles'. One day as he was playing, he accidentally fell into a large water trough. The frightened parents ran to save him, but to their horror, found he was not breathing at all when they rescued him from the water. A Chinese cook who had seen the accident rushed to the scene and snatched the child from his mother. Grasping him firmly by the feet and putting them around his neck, the Chinese boy placed the baby on his back, head downwards. Calmly he trotted up and down the hillside, with the baby in that position, until finally the water was released from Bert's lungs, and he was safely breathing again. Then, to assure the lad's recovery, the Chinaman insisted that the mother go to bed with the baby next to her body to keep him warm. Thus, his life was saved.

Bert, like the other boys, spent his early life on the ranch. When he was old enough, he worked in the butcher shop in Virginia City, and later owned his own market in Reno. He was the only son to leave the community, but this did not occur until several years after his marriage, when he purchased some land in Oregon and moved to that state. He died there in 1920.

The second child, also a boy, was born in 1870. He was named Willi6m after brothers of that name of both his father and his mother. Bill was closely associated with his father and the ranch throughout his life. He became a responsible stockman, handling the sheep interests particularly. When sheep were bought from Oregon, then the center of the industry, Bill would go after them in the springtime. He would select several hundred of them, and with the help that was necessary, herd them all the way to the range in Nevada. The trip was always slow and tiresome. However, at that time there was much virgin land between the two points, providing good grazing, land and sufficient feed to keep the animals in good condition. The trek began early in the spring and was not completed until late in October. Grandfather Holcomb, on his death bed, requested that Bill take charge of his interests. Consequently, he was elected president of the corporation which the family organized themselves into upon their father's death. Bill remained a confirmed bachelor throughout his life.

Lucy, or "Daisy" as she has always been called, was the first daughter born into the household. Having two older brothers as she did it was only natural that she engage in the same work and play which they did in their early years. She was an especially fine horsewoman, and an all-around out door girl. As a young-lady, she was intrusted with much of her father's business, and often took care of his banking and other affairs in Reno when his presence was demanded in Virginia City or elsewhere. In 1896 she married Charles H. Burke, a young Reno businessman, and has since resided in this city. To them, twelve children were born.

Kate was born in May, 1873. She was the "big sister" to her sisters and brothers all their younger lives, and devoted a great part of her life to making their home a happy one. She lived at the home ranch all the years the family had it. It is she, with her remarkably clear, retentive, and accurate memory, who is responsible for the largest part of the material included in this research She is now Mrs. Thomas Mansfield.

Dick Holcomb's birth was the year following Kate's. He too, worked with his father in developing the holdings, und was highly respected by all who knew him. He became associated with the cattle interests, and managed that end of the affairs until about the time of his marriage to Mabel Morrill, the daughter of an outstanding pioneer of Truckee Meadows. He had business training at Healds Business College in San Francisco and was an expert accountant. Dick died in 1908.

In 1876, the first tragedy caused by death in the immediate family occurred when Grove Jr., then six years old, passed away following an illness of scarlet fever and diphtheria. There was a serious epidemic of the dreaded diseases at the time, and it was believed that the older children had carried home the infection from school, there being no modern health measures requiring isolation such us exist today.

George was born in 1879. He was not the executive type of a person that his brothers proved themselves to be, although he too was associated in business with his father. Contrary to his biography printed in Davis' History of Nevada, Volume II, page 1107, George did not actually assume charge of the interests upon his father's death.

Myrtle was born on Bert's thirteenth birthday, April 5, 1881. This was an important event in the Holcomb household, as she was the first girl after three boys. Her father, in honor of the occasion, went to Virginia City and bought a cradle, a nursery chair, and a high chair. He sheared an angora goat and had the wool spun and crocheted into a hood for the now baby. Myrtle was perhaps the greatest "tomboy" of the family. This was no doubt due to the fact that the children closest to her in age were four of her brothers. She rode exceptionally well, and could easily manage a team of horses. After she had been graduated from Huffaker's school, the alma mater of all the children, she wanted very much to go to the newly established University of Nevada. However, her parents had not been convinced of the importance of young women pursuing higher education, and for some reason, did not believe the university to be a respectable institution and would not allow their daughter to attend. So the young woman, determined to make a success of life in spite of her disappointment, decided to help less fortunate residents of the valley and accordingly, served as a nurse. Epidemics were frequent because, of course, many modern methods of combating them were yet unknown. Myrtle had had no training except for the experience she had in her own home and that of neighbors, but nevertheless, she was able to help make people comfortable and cheer their homes in
times of need. By this period, many foreign immigrants, especially Italians, had settled in the valley. Poor people as they generally were, services ouch as the young Holcomb girl and her philanthropic father could render were gratefully welcomed.

Myrtle was especially active in promoting this type of welfare to others, but all members of the family were available if they were called. Myrtle's husband, William J. Stevenson, was a stockman. It was he who brought the first Hereford cattle to this state, delivering them to Governor Sparks. Hereford cattle are now of the most important range stock in Nevada.

Budd's birth occurred in 1882. He too was destined to be a rancher, and it was particularly on his account that another large ranch was eventually added to the holdings. He did not specialize in any one branch of the activities, but was always a dependable worker in all undertakings.

Fanny, a daughter born in 1884, also died at an early age with scarlet fever.

Thad, the most prominent and highly esteemed son of the family, was the youngest child. He was born in March, 1886. The interests of the family had been progressing for seventeen years by this time, but it was primarily due to Thad's efforts that they were expanded further. Being the youngest child, he was especially loved by his older sisters and brothers. Because of his superior qualities, his father encouraged his going to business college in San Francisco, which he was doing at the time of his father's death. Thus, he was one of the two members of the family who carried his education beyond "the little red school house" which they had all attended. It was only natural therefore, that he should be the one who took charge of the interests
and held the family together after his father's death.

Of the eleven children, five are still living, and all are proud to bear the family name. There are twenty-four grand children, eighteen of which live in their home state; twelve great grandchildren; and one great-great grand child. (In 1939)

B. Social Life

With such a large family, social life was important, and there were many happy times in the Holcomb home. The household was noted for its hospitality, and there were hosts of friends. "Mrs. Holcomb was charming to meet and kind to everyone. She would exert herself to show Christian consideration for the timid person or for a foreigner who was an employee. The neighbors and friends, from more remote places, were bidden: 'Hang up your hat and stay as long as you like; boys, stable the horses and look out for them.' In the old days, social life centered around the schools and Sunday schools. Spelling bees
were held, and Mrs. Holcomb was a champion speller, but Mr. Holcomb excelled in debating." ("Holcomb Family Among Pioneers of Washoe County,"Mrs. Thurlow Douglas. Reno Evening Gazette, September 9, 1939)

In this brief account, Mrs. Douglas neglects to mention other things which contributed to the social life of the family. True, the school was the center of some entertainment, particularly at Christmas time. Much planning was done for these occasions, as it was customary for the pupils to entertain the families and neighbors of the entire community. There were plays and recitations, and above all, the tree and the presents. It is recalled that one young man who later became a fine musician received his first instrument at one of these gatherings. At any rate, social life in general at that time had a much different aspect than it does for young people today. Spelling bees were common, and often neighbors gathered to match their skills. And there were quilting bees, which were enjoyed by the young people as well ad the old. The people had to make their own entertainment, and this held them together in a neighborly fashion.

The Holcomb children undoubtedly inherited part of their social traits from their Grandmother Lyell. As an example of her desire to have young people enjoy themselves, on the Fourth of July, 1876, she gathered together all her grand children and their friends which she could and took them to the Centennial Celebration in Reno, and made it her point to see that everyone of them had a good time. When the children were older, she often had parties for them at her home.

When people built new homes, it was common to celebrate with housewarmings. Young people would come for miles around, and most often spend at least one night with their hosts. On one particular occasion, when a spacious new cook house was built on the Holcomb ranch, the family entertained with a festive dancing party. Music was furnished, not by an orchestra, but by two elderly friends of the family who played fiddles. The young people frequently attended dances at the Sierra Club Hall, a community building located near the schoolhouse. Its erection had come as the result of subscriptions collected from residents of the community. Grandfather Holcomb and four of his sons had each contributed fifty dollars to the club.

During a great part f the time there were guests at the Holcomb home, especially friends from Virginia City. Often the children visited there. It is no wonder that they were widely known throughougt this portion of the state, One young girl, Miss Minnie Dellbridge, was a particular friend of Kate's and Daisy's, and visited the ranch often.

Her family were good customers of Grandfather Holcomb in Virginia City.

She tells the story of one of her visits, before she had any intentions of becoming part of the family, as she was politely admiring some of the stock. One particular calf attracted her attention and in response to her comment upon it, Grandfather jokingly said, "Young lady, that calf will be a full grown cow by the time you are married." In fact, he promised to give it to her at that time. He was a man of his word, for many months later, soon after Minnie had become Mrs. Bert Holcomb, he delivered the cow to his first daughter-in-law as a wedding present.

Although Grandfather Holcomb was not a charter member, he was initiated into the Reno Lodge of B. P. 0. Elks soon after its organization on June 30, 1900. Several years later four of his sons --- Bill , George, Budd, and Thad --- were received into the order at the same time, and all were loyal members.

C.Indian Relationships

At the time the Holcombs settled in the Truckee Meadows, there were many native Indians. Being of the Washoe tribe, they were peaceful, but not very energetic. They moved from place to place in the valley, mostly to get work. The men worked on the various ranches, and more often the squaws worked in the homes. One family of the tribe remained very faithful to the Holcombs. Their leader, George Winters, worked on the ranch for many years. He was a conscientious, rather foresighted individual, and refused to take all of the money that was owed to him. When he died there was about five hundred dollars of his earnings which had never been collected. His wife would not accept it at the time, but she finally decided to take two hundred dollars and distribute it among her children. From time to time she would come for small sums, and upon her death, there was still thirty dollars remaining. Anyone who is acquainted with the characteristics of these Indiana understands that it is not customary of them to place such implicit trust in their employers, but almost always, they are good judges of characters, and possibly this case serves as an example.

It was not only where they worked which caused the Indiana to move from place to place, however, They invariably moved when any member of their group died. They buried their personal belongings with the dead person, often covering the path to the grave with huge stones intended to prevent the devil from taking big or her soul, then they burned the entire camp, leaving with just the clothes they had on their backs. When they moved, the men rode, providing the family owned a horse. The women followed on foot; they were the mourners. To indicate that a relative had died, it was customary for the squaws to bob their hair and rub melted pitch and ashes into it. They were in mourning until the unusual mixture grew out.

It was from the Indians that the Holcomb children learned not only their customs and their language, but their stories. The Indians were very sincere in their strange beliefs and superstitions. As an example, George Winters often predicted that he would go to Lake Tahoe to die. This wish was apparently based on the legend of the Do-do Bird which supposedly had a nest in the depths of Lake Tahoe. No one ever saw the bird, of course, but it was believed that he took the spirits of all good people who died; that was an honor desired by all. And George Winters, unexplainable as it was for the white people who know him, was at Lake Tahoe when he departed for "The happy Hunting Grounds".

Descendants of the old Indians still maintain their friendship with members of the Holcomb family. As these Indians learned and partially accepted the ways of the white men, the Holcombs gave them a plot of land on the ranch where they built a permanent camp and remained as long as the family owned the property.

D. Political Ventures of Grove Holcomb

During most of his life, Grove Holcomb was an ardent believer in the principles of the Republican party. He took an active interest in the ranks of the party and for two terms served as Supervisor of the State Central Committee. (History of Nevada, Volume II, Sam. P. Davis, page 1107.)

Because of his belief in the free coinage of silver with a 16 to 1 ratio, free trade, and other platforms upheld by the Silver Party which was organized in the early 1890's, Grandfather Holcomb changed his party. "The Silver Party waged a most relentless battle against both the Republican and Democratic parties in Nevada, and to them henceforth belonged the spoils." (History of Nevada, Thomas Wren, page 89.)

Several years later the Democrats and the Silver men fused, and Grandfather Holcomb consequently gave his support to the Democracy. His most noteworthy political venture was his election to the Board of County Commissioners of Washoe County in 1900 as a long term commissioner. He was chosen chairman, and proved himself worthy of the trust imposed in him. The salary of the members of this office was a hundred dollars a quarter, to be divided between them; the chairman was to receive forty dollars and the remaining members thirty dollars apiece, but Grandfather would only accept thirty-three dollars. Perhaps this was based on his idea that "all men are equal," but at any rate, the gesture shows his liberality and fairness of character. He exercised his official duties in support of the measures he believed to be of the great benefit to the district, and was a capable executive.

As it was only in 1897 when Reno Was incorporated, city officials had not all been determined or assigned, and for several years after the incorporation, the commissioners served also as city executives. These men had much to do with the planning and building the city. It was through Grandfather Holcomb's suggestion and insistence that the first fire engine was bought by the city. Its price was $800, but would have probably been more had it not been for Charles H. Burke's "shopping."

But the sturdy gentlemen, in spite of his well-meanings, was not a good politician; that is, not good enough to win the support of stronger politicians in the community. In the ensuing election, two candidates were put up against him, successfully splinting the vote and defeating him.

As a further indication of Grandfather Holcomb's civic interest, he was one of the charter members of the Nevada State Historical Society. (First Biennial Report of the Nevada State historical Society, 1907-1908, page 22). In an account of the Society's meeting of June 28, 1906, "Father Tubman delivered an eloquent memorial address in which he eulogized the four departed members of the Society, who had died within the last year. Governor Sadler, Dr. Leavitt, Judge Hayden, and Grove Holcomb were named and as their familiar titles were pronounced memories of their lives of usefulness were vividly recalled." ( First Biennial Report,of the Nevada State historical Society, 1907-1908, Page 25)


A. Later Developments of the Holdings

By the turn of the century, the Holcomb property consisted of a thousand acres of arable lands and eight thousand acres of grazing land. Grandfather Holcomb had prospered well in all business ventures, and his"record was a credit to the state in which he made his home, having. shown what was possible to accomplish through intelligence and well directed effort. He had gained the respect and confidence of his fellow men.

The first land added to the home ranch was a large tract directly east of Huffaker's, formerly known as the Lamb Ranch, Mr. Lamb being one of the prominent pioneers of the community. The ranch, later called the "lower ranch", was primarily meadow land and consequently was used as a dairy ranch. Also, a part of the Howard Estate, adjoining the Lamb property was purchased. There was additional range land for sheep in the mountains both to the East and to the West of the valley. The western land provided summer range and the eastern, where snow fall is always lighter, served in the wintertime. In 1902, the first of several hundred acres of summer range for cattle, along the Little Truckee River in Sierra County, California, were added to the holdings.

Being a man of judgment and far sightedness, Grandfather Holcomb was a prime mover in several proposals which would assure irrigation water to the settlers of the Truckee Meadows. As was previously mentioned, the water problem has been of grave consequence in comparatively recent years; and the situation would have been much less serious had it been well established as the land was settled and put into cultivation. It was not until the valley was some fifty years old that there were any regulations made for the proclaiming of water rights. Previous to that time, people who needed water either built ditches from the river which would convey water to them or bartered to get it from ditches already constructed. Little thought was given to obtaining a future supply. The most important movement occurred in 1903 when Grandfather Holcomb, forseeing the value of water to the valley, initiated a plan which was circulated as the "Prospectus of Tahoe Water Storage" (Prospectus of Tahoe Water Storage, original document) It was his desire to form a corporation of water users who would aggregate a capital stock sufficient to purchase the crib dam and gates and about fifty acres of land at the outlet of Lake Tahoe. He was able to get several signers, but not a sufficient number to furnish the required quota of money. The less concerned ranchers were satisfied with what they had and could not be convinced of the impending threats of their supply being decreased. Had
he succeeded in this project, it is doubtless but what the present water users of this valley would maintain control of the source and would have avoided considerable expense and outside interference in the years which ensued.

B. Death of Grove Holcomb and the Incorporation of the Estate

Grove Holcomb was seriously injured in a runaway accident in Virginia City in June, 1905. He recovered partially, but in December of the same year he contracted pneumonia and died on the fifth day of that month. Had modern methods of combating the sickness been known in those days, perhaps his death could have been averted at that time. He was sixty-seven years of age, still the tall and handsome rugged individualist he had proved himself to be throughout his life. He had laid the foundation of a small empire which existed and continued to grow for many years.

The year following his death, the holdings were incorporated into the G. R. Holcomb Estate Company by members of the immediate family. Bill, in accordance with his father's last request, was chosen to act as president. George was vice-president, and Kate the secretary. The other members served as directors.

Although the ranch continued to prosper for about two decades under the leadership of the-respective brothers, the actual downfall began following their father's death. It wasn't necessarily because the younger men lacked the executive ability of their progenitor but because of the economic and political conditions which were rising in the nation. Especially in the western states it was becoming the common practice to borrow large sums of money to carry on agricultural pursuits. True, our forefathers frequently "made money on borrowed money", but as a rule, their resources were not so immoderately exceeded. But that is another story, and one which had many sides.

At any rate, the Holcomb property increased materially under the efficient guidance of Thad, the younger brother. With the introduction of federal reclamation projects in the state, new laws were made and effected. The project which had direct bearing on the water users of Truckee Meadows was the construction of the Derby Canal and Dam on the Truckee River several miles east of the valley. In the meantime, laws made it necessary that the water rights be properly recorded by the owners. The amount of this water consumed serves to indicate the amount of land under cultivation, and in a "Record of Irrigating Water used by G. R. Holcomb Estate Company" in 1914, it is stated that approximately four hundred and seventy inches of water were used for irrigating purposes on twenty one hundred and seventy-five acres of cultivated land. The legal description of the land owned at that time, September.1914, consisted of "Sections one (1) and twelve (12) T. 18, N.R. 19, E and sections four (4), five (5), six(6), seven (7), eight (8), nine (9) and sixteen (16), T. 18, N.R. 20,E." ('Record of Irrigating Water used by G. R. Holcomb Estate Company", original document)

Indeed, that represented a sizeable bit of land and the water that was used on it was certainly of sufficient quantity to be the reason for later court actions to assure its supply.

The water problem was comparatively minor to the one that arose following the outbreak of the World War. (WWI) As the cost of living mounted, higher income for the farmer was correspondingly insured. In an effort to further their interests, and at the suggestion of local businessmen, the Holcomb Estate Purchased what was at that time known as the Sorge Ranch, formerly the old Barney Clow Ranch and also the James Burke Ranch, adjoining their lower ranch to the south. The price of the ranch, which consisted of some 2120 acres, was $166,000. 243 acres of land, including the buildings and improvements, of the Huffaker Ranch had also been added. On this property stood the historic Huffaker mansion which had been built about the same time and by the same architect as was the famous Bowers' Mansbon in Washoe Valley.

This meant the borrowing of a considerable sum of money from a local bank. In addition, the company bought hundreds of head of cattle, also at a high price caused, of course, by the wartime crisis. At that time, no one knew how long the war would continue, and the general opinion was that it would be a much longer epoch than it actually was. Consequently, it was the government officials who urged and practically insisted that the additional stock be purchased. Accordingly, more range land was supplemented in the Little Truckee area in California. It is important to note that all of this California land was recorded in the name of Sarah Lyell Holcomb, and although it was considered a part of the company, it was never administered in the estate. For that reason, in spite of several court proceedings in recent years, the property is still owned and controlled by her heirs.

These things obviously made for a higher liability to the Holcomb Estate Company. When the War ended in 1918, the Holcombs found themselves with a considerable burden. But the family stood united to carry on in a strained effort to emerge from the situation which existed. The area in Truckee Meadows totaled nearly 5000 acres and was made up by four ranches: the Home ranch, Huffhker's, the Lower Ranch, and the Holcomb Brothers' Ranch. Four brothers and two sisters remained to directly manage the affairs, though the fundamental organization was overseen by Thad. Kate lived in the original home of the family; Thad and Bill, and George had homes at the Huffaker Ranch; Budd managed the Lower Ranch; and the Stevensons were in charge of the other one. Practically all forms of agriculture adapted to the location were employed. Grain and alfalfa, primarily, were raised on the Home Ranch, while the Lower Ranch, as has been previously mentioned was mostly meadow land used for pasture and grass hay. However, large crops of potatoes, corns and grain were produced on both of these ranches as well as on the Huffaker land. The Stevenson ranch, or Holcomb Brothers' Ranch, the largest of all, provided space for all of the aforementioned pursuits. In addition it was well equipped with corrals and barns to make it desirable for stock breeding, particularly of horses and cattle- All of the ranches were equipped with adequate modern machinery and animals necessary for successful farming. At the beginning of the year 1922, the appraisal statement listed the total land value of the Estate over $800,000, the actual property consisting of 31,700 acres. These figures, of course, exclude all personal property and improvements. At that time there was over 6,000 head of livestock; cattle, sheep, horses, und mules. The total assets were almost $1,000,000, and the liabilities were about one-third of that sum.

C. More Water Problems

In the years which followed, the water problem again rose to prominence as a result of a severe-drought. Much of the water from the river had been claimed by another federal reclamation project --- the Lahontan Dam in Churchill County. The government had instigated a friendly suit against the water users of Truckee Meadows to determine just how much water was being used, and as all such legal procedures, this proved lengthy,and exceedingly costly to the local ranchers and farmers.

Temporary aid in the form of irrigating water throughout the so-called "dry years" was furnished by water pumped from Lake Tahoe. Thad was one of the Washoe County residents directly responsible for obtaining the necessary water, and this too, entailed numerous complications. An organization known as the "Truckee Meadows Water Users Association" formed primarily as a defense against the government action, grew up, and Thad was one of its officers. When settlement was finally reached in 1926, the association developed into the original governing body of the "Washoe County Water Conservation District" which, at the present time is the major organization representing all Truckee Meadows water users and governs all execution, distribution, and expenses involved in water from the Truckee River. Until recently, George Holcomb was one of the directors of the organization.

The Stevenson ranch, located in the southern section of the valley# and separated almost entirely from the irrigation district, also was concerned with a similar problem. Water for it was taken from the Washoe Lake Reservoir, and its outlet, the Steamboat Creek. Difficulties in obtaining the water couldn't be settled agreeably with other parties concerned by legal means, and it was practically by manual force that the Company succeeded in diverting the supply from the stream which its land required.


It is impossible to account for every phase in the later history of the G. R. Holcomb Estate Company which contributed to the downfall of the vast enterprise because of the personal and numerous other indirect factors which had entered into the development. However, it has been pointed out that finances played the major part. Furthermore, conditions in the entire world had changed since the middle of the nineteenth century, and there was a new era in history. The Holcombs were just one group among many, even in their own realm. True, their father was a pioneer in the county, but there were also many other pioneers and settlers. The community which hardly more than a half-century before had been the home of a select
population of colonizers had become a modern center of living. The foundation had been laid by the courageous and enterprising pioneers. Their successors continued to add to that foundation, but if any structure is built too high, it will topple and fall. Perhaps this hypothetical principle, combined with the fickleness of fate, could be applied to the Holcombs in Washoe County.

Thad met an untimely death in June, 1928, at a time when his intelligent leadership seemed indispensable. Only a few weeks after this dreadful tragedy his respected brother, Bill, who was still the president of the vast estate, passed away. The surviving members of the family struggled to carry on, but the odds were against them. They had become more-or-less separated---there was no supreme leader.

The economic state of the nation was critical, and people along all walks of life were reeling the pressure it created. The Holcomb organization was just one company among hundreds who fell so discreditably when so many of the banks were forced to close. The Reno bank which held the Holcomb estate's note became bankrupt in the summer of 1929. With this as the final blow, the G. R. Holcomb Estate Company was soon dissolved. The directors signed over their interests to a realization company which was formed to liquidate all loans and return to the depositors the twenty-five per cent loss the had sustained they has sustained with the closing of the bank. But the debts were not liquidated.

The surviving members of the family packed their personal belongings, and almost like the Indians of their father's day, sought new homes.

Ten years have passed since the fateful crash, but the Holcombs, divided as they are literally, stand loyally together in taking pride in what they have represented in the first seventy-five years of the History of Washoe County.


History of Nevada, Thomas Wren, page 89, 498, 499

History of Nevada, Sam. P. Davis, Volume II, page 1107

The Holcombs of the World, Jesse Seaver

Connecticut Men in the Revolution and the War of 1812

Reno Evening Gazette, September 9. 1939

Nevada State Journal, October 27, 1877; October 12, 1878

First Biennial Report of the Nevada State historical Society, pages 22, 25

Prospectus of Tahoe Water Storage, original document

Record of Irrigating Water Used by G.- R. Holcomb Estate Company, original doc.

Statement of G. R. Holcomb Estate Company, January, 1922, copy of original.

Children of Grove Robert Holcombe and Sarah Ann Lyell


  1. [S25] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, Holcombe Genealogy, Page 178.1/Item A-8-1-6-5-1-5-1.
  2. [S579] Jeanne S. Thornton, "Application 460050, NSDAR."
  3. [S818] Edwin W. Strickland II, William Buel, 8-14, page 427.
  4. [S807] Find A Grave, online, memorial ID 122276403.

William Hampton Holcombe

b. February 1847
     William Hampton Holcombe was born in February 1847 at Vernon, Trumbull Co., OH. He was the son of John Flavel Holcombe and Antoinette Casandra Thompson.

Emma Frances Holcombe

b. circa 1852
     After the death of her husband, Emily lived with her brother, Thaddeus Stevens Holcombe, where she died. Emma Frances Holcombe was born circa 1852 at Vernon, Trumbull Co., OH. She was the daughter of John Flavel Holcombe and Antoinette Casandra Thompson. Emma Frances Holcombe died.

Florence Nevada Holcombe1

b. 15 May 1851, d. 5 June 1954
     Florence Nevada Holcombe was born on 15 May 1851 at Hannibal, Marion Co., MO. She was the daughter of John Flavel Holcombe and Antoinette Casandra Thompson. Florence Nevada Holcombe married John Rice on 30 July 1871. Florence Nevada Holcombe lived in 1947 at 2051 Granville Ave., Los Angeles, Los Angeles Co., CA. She died on 5 June 1954 at Smartville, Yuba Co., CA, at age 103. She was buried at Keystone Cemetery, Dobbins, Yuba Co., CA.2

Children of Florence Nevada Holcombe and John Rice


  1. [S25] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, Holcombe Genealogy, Page 179.2/Item A-8-1-6-5-1-5-4.
  2. [S807] Find A Grave, online, memorial ID 38416405.
  3. [S35] 1900 Federal Census, unknown repository address.

Thaddeus Stevens Holcombe1

b. 25 September 1856, d. 13 May 1953
     Thaddeus Stevens Holcombe was born on 25 September 1856 at Brownsville, Yuba Co., CA.2 He was the son of John Flavel Holcombe and Antoinette Casandra Thompson. Thaddeus Stevens Holcombe lived at Challenge, Yuba Co., CA. He died on 13 May 1953 at Yuba Co., CA, at age 96. He was buried at Brownsville Cemetery, Brownsville, Yuba Co., CA.3

Thaddeus married at about age 70, a woman near his own age, who died 1940-41 after 7 years married life. No children.

Appeal Democrat - 5/14/1953, p 16 - Thadeus [sic] Stephens Holcomb, 95, lifelong resident of Yuba county, died in Yuba County hospital last night. He was born September 20, 1857, at the Beaver ranch, near Brownsville. His parents were pioneers who settled in Yuba county in the early 1850s and engaged in farming near Brownsville and Indiana Ranch. - Holcomb was married in 1935 to Mrs. Alice Pike who died in 1941 at their home in Challenge. He is survived by a sister, Mrs. Florence Rice, of West Los Angeles, 102 years old, and the following nieces and nephews: Surney Rice, Ernest Rice and Nettie Rice, of West Los Angeles, Mrs. Mabel Conner of Smartville, George Holcomb, Budd Holcomb, Mrs. William Stevenson and Mrs. Kate Mansfield of Reno. - Funeral services will be in Lipp & Sullivan chapel, Marysville, at 1 p.m. Monday, followed by interment in Brownsville cemetery.


  1. [S25] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, Holcombe Genealogy, page 180.1/Item A-8-1-6-5-1-5-9.
  2. [S811] Emma Barham Callaghan, Rabbit Creek, page 156.
  3. [S807] Find A Grave, online, memorial ID 77627212.

S. Katherine Holcombe

b. 1861
     S. Katherine Holcombe was born in 1861 at Brownsville, Yuba Co., CA. She was the daughter of John Flavel Holcombe and Antoinette Casandra Thompson.

Probably Catherine Stroud, orphaned daughter of Antionette's sister Catherine Thompson Stroud. When Catherihe Thompson died 13 January 1861, Antoinette took baby Kate into her home and raised her as her own.1


  1. [S811] Emma Barham Callaghan, Rabbit Creek.

Sarah Ann Lyell

b. 21 December 1844, d. 31 August 1921
     Sarah Ann Lyell was born on 21 December 1844 at Lima, Adams Co., IL.1,2 She was the daughter of John W. Lyell and Lucy (?)3 Sarah Ann Lyell married Grove Robert Holcombe, son of John Flavel Holcombe and Antoinette Casandra Thompson, on 4 June 1865 at Trukee Meadows, NV.2 Sarah Ann Lyell died on 31 August 1921 at Truckee Meadows, Washoe Co., NV, at age 76.2

Children of Sarah Ann Lyell and Grove Robert Holcombe


  1. [S35] 1900 Federal Census, unknown repository address.
  2. [S579] Jeanne S. Thornton, "Application 460050, NSDAR."
  3. [S67] 1850 Federal Census,, On-line Database.

John Albert Holcombe1

b. 5 April 1868, d. 1920
     John Albert Holcombe also went by the name of Bert Holcombe. He was born on 5 April 1868 at Trukee Valley, Washoe Co., NV. He was the son of Grove Robert Holcombe and Sarah Ann Lyell. John Albert Holcombe married Minnie Delbridge on 11 August 1890. John Albert Holcombe died in 1920 at Eugene, Lane Co., OR.

When "Bert" was two and a half years old and his father was still operating his Hunter Creek saw mill tried to find his father, being accompanied by the family dog, a Newfoundland, and wandered until his mother missed him and started a search until she heard the dog barking where she found the dog pacing like a sentinel in front of the child. Coming closer she saw a rattlesnake on the far side of the dog.

"Bert" fell into a pool at Hunter Creek and when found by his mother was apparently lifeless and did not respond to her efforts to resuscitate him. Then the Chinese cook took him, put his legs around his neck grasping the feet firmly, head hanging, downward and trotted up the hill until the water was released from his lungs and the lad's life was saved.

Nevada marriage records differ from McPherson's. Virginia City, Storey Co., NV records, volume C, page 11, indicate that J.A. and Minnie were married on 26 January 1893.

Children of John Albert Holcombe and Minnie Delbridge


  1. [S25] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, Holcombe Genealogy, Page 179 .1 and .2/item A-8-1-6-5-1-5-1-1.

William Thompson Holcombe

b. 5 January 1870
     William Thompson Holcombe was born on 5 January 1870 at Trukee Valley, Washoe Co., NV. He was the son of Grove Robert Holcombe and Sarah Ann Lyell.

Lucy Antoinette Holcombe1

b. 21 October 1871
     Lucy Antoinette Holcombe was born on 21 October 1871 at Washoe Co., NV. She was the daughter of Grove Robert Holcombe and Sarah Ann Lyell. Lucy Antoinette Holcombe married Charles H. Burke.


  1. [S25] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, Holcombe Genealogy, Page 179.1/Item A-8-1-6-5-1-5-1-3.

Kate Holcombe1

b. 17 May 1873, d. 24 April 1959
     Kate Holcombe was born on 17 May 1873 at Trukee Valley, Washoe Co., NV; GS. She was the daughter of Grove Robert Holcombe and Sarah Ann Lyell. Kate Holcombe married Thomas M. Mansfield. Kate Holcombe died on 24 April 1959 at age 85; GS.


  1. [S25] Hannah Elizabeth Weir McPherson, Holcombe Genealogy, page 179.2/Item A-8-1-6-5-1-5-1-4.

Guy Richard Holcombe

b. 1 December 1875, d. 14 August 1908
Guy Richard and Cleo Mabel (Morrill) Holcombe
from Wayne McMorran
     Guy Richard Holcombe was born on 1 December 1875 at Washoe Co., NV; GS. He was the son of Grove Robert Holcombe and Sarah Ann Lyell. Guy Richard Holcombe married Cleo Mabel Morrill, daughter of Enoch Morrill and Mary Addie Morton, circa 1904.1 Guy Richard Holcombe died on 14 August 1908 at age 32; GS.

Widow Mabel and Erwin were enumerated in the 1910 Oakland Twp. Alameda Co., CA, federal census. She was 28, he was 2. Boarding in the household were (sister?) Ada Morrill 24, and Kate Reese 17.

Widow Mabel and Erwin were enumerated in the 1920 Riverbank, Stanislaus Co., CA, federal census. She was living in the household of "Enauch Merrill". She was 38, he was 11.

Cleo M. and Erwin were enumerated in the 1930 Oakland, Alameda Co., CA, federal census. She was 49, he was 22. Also in the household was mother Mary A. Morrill, 70.

Children of Guy Richard Holcombe and Cleo Mabel Morrill


  1. [S388] 1930 Federal Census.

Grove Robert Holcombe II

b. 3 August 1876, d. 20 March 1882
     Grove Robert Holcombe II was born on 3 August 1876 at Trukee Valley, Washoe Co., NV. He was the son of Grove Robert Holcombe and Sarah Ann Lyell. Grove Robert Holcombe II died on 20 March 1882 at age 5.

George Holcombe

b. 19 July 1878
     George Holcombe was born on 19 July 1878 at Trukee Valley, Washoe Co., NV. He was the son of Grove Robert Holcombe and Sarah Ann Lyell.

Alicia Myrtle Holcombe

b. 5 April 1881, d. 26 November 1966
     Alicia Myrtle Holcombe was born on 5 April 1881 at Truckee Meadows, Washoe Co., NV.1,2 She was the daughter of Grove Robert Holcombe and Sarah Ann Lyell. Alicia Myrtle Holcombe married William John Stevenson on 7 August 1906 at Washoe Co., NV.1,3 Alicia Myrtle Holcombe died on 26 November 1966 at Reno, Washoe Co., NV, at age 85.2 She was buried at Mountain View Cemetery, Reno, Washoe Co., NV.3

William and Myrtle were enumerated in the 1920 Reno, Washoe Co., NV, federal census. He was a farmer, age 36, she was 38. Children in the household were Budd 12, Jeanne 10, and Walter 9.

Children of Alicia Myrtle Holcombe and William John Stevenson


  1. [S579] Jeanne S. Thornton, "Application 460050, NSDAR."
  2. [S818] Edwin W. Strickland II, William Buel, 8-14, pages 427, 494.
  3. [S818] Edwin W. Strickland II, William Buel, 8-14, page 494.
  4. [S388] 1930 Federal Census.
  5. [S39] 1920 Federal Census, unknown repository address.

Budd Lyell Holcombe

b. 9 November 1882, d. 3 November 1918
     Budd Lyell Holcombe was born on 9 November 1882 at Trukee Valley, Washoe Co., NV. He was the son of Grove Robert Holcombe and Sarah Ann Lyell. Budd Lyell Holcombe died on 3 November 1918 at age 35.

Budd married and had 4 daughters.

Susan Frances Holcombe

b. 21 May 1884, d. 26 November 1886
     Susan Frances Holcombe was born on 21 May 1884 at Trukee Valley, Washoe Co., NV.1 She was the daughter of Grove Robert Holcombe and Sarah Ann Lyell. Susan Frances Holcombe died on 26 November 1886 at age 2.1


  1. [S818] Edwin W. Strickland II, William Buel, 8-14, page 428.

Thaddeus Stevens Holcombe II

b. 5 March 1886, d. 13 June 1928
     Thaddeus Stevens Holcombe II was born on 5 March 1886 at Trukee Valley, Washoe Co., NV.1 He was the son of Grove Robert Holcombe and Sarah Ann Lyell. Thaddeus Stevens Holcombe II died on 13 June 1928 at Thrown from horse at age 42.

Thaddeus married and had 2 sons, 2 daughters.


  1. [S818] Edwin W. Strickland II, William Buel, 8-14, page 428.

Minnie Delbridge

b. 11 August 1872, d. 9 March 1960
     Minnie Delbridge was born on 11 August 1872 at Jersey City, Hudson Co, NJ. She married John Albert Holcombe, son of Grove Robert Holcombe and Sarah Ann Lyell, on 11 August 1890. Minnie Delbridge died on 9 March 1960 at age 87.

Children of Minnie Delbridge and John Albert Holcombe

Wellington Holcombe

b. circa June 1845, d. 6 July 1863
     Wellington Holcombe was also known as Jaman Willington.1 He was born circa June 1845 at Granby, Hartford Co., CT.1 He was the son of Alson Holcombe and Candace Almina Holcombe. Wellington Holcombe died on 6 July 1863; unmarried, fever.1 He was buried on 8 July 1863 at West Granby Cemetery, Granby, Hartford Co., CT.1


  1. [S419] Carol Laun, Beneath These Stones, Page 114.

Shaler Holcombe II

b. 11 July 1848, d. 11 October 1853
     Shaler Holcombe II was born on 11 July 1848 at Granby, Hartford Co., CT.1 He was the son of Alson Holcombe and Candace Almina Holcombe. Shaler Holcombe II died on 11 October 1853 at age 5; scalded.1 He was buried at West Granby Cemetery, Granby, Hartford Co., CT.1


  1. [S419] Carol Laun, Beneath These Stones, Page 117.

Jameson Holcombe

d. 4 July 1864
     Jameson Holcombe was born at Granby, Hartford Co., CT. He was the son of Alson Holcombe and Candace Almina Holcombe. Jameson Holcombe died on 4 July 1864.

Alvaretta Holcombe

b. 22 July 1850, d. 1905
     Alvaretta Holcombe was also known as Almira Candace Alveretta Holcombe. She was born on 22 July 1850 at Granby, Hartford Co., CT.1 She was the daughter of Alson Holcombe and Candace Almina Holcombe. Alvaretta Holcombe married Albert Booth Wells, son of Albert Stanley Wells and Caroline Booth, on 22 October 1884. Alvaretta Holcombe died in 1905.2


  1. [S178] Christina Bailey and Lorraine Cook White, Barbour: Granby, Page 112.
  2. [S161] Carol A. Laun, Granby Center Cemetery, Page 83.