California Genealogy and History Archives
San Bernardino County and Riverside County
B. G. HOLMES. — Some men never learn what failure means no matter what obstacles spring up in their path, being able to overcome them and come out a winner. B. G. Holmes, of Big Bear Valley, is one of these men, and his success in spite of all kinds of hard luck and former poor health ought to stimulate others to follow his inspiring example. He was born January 26, 1872, a son of John and Amelia (Gay) Holmes, natives of Connecticut, where the former was born in 1837 and the latter in 1838. They were married in 1870, and B. G. Holmes is their only child. They came to Redlands, California, in 1889, where the father engaged in fruit growing. He first purchased a peach orchard of ten acres, but later planted it to oranges. His reason for coming to California was his failing health, and the fact that he now, although eighty-four years of age, is caring for his orange grove in West Redlands shows that the move was a very wise and beneficial one. His wife is also living and in the enjoyment of good health. They are most remarkable people, and B. G. Holmes is very proud of them and what they have accomplished.
After completing the grammar and high school courses B. G. Holmes entered the Redlands National Bank, and was doing very nicely when his health failed, and two years later he was forced to change his occupation for something which would take him out of doors. In 1894 he came to Bluff Lake to camp and recuperate, and then the next summer he, with the aid of two boys, packed in over the trail to Big Bear Valley. When he gained his first view of this region it was not very attractive, and only the realization of his need of some place where he could be in the open kept him from turning back, that and the innate determination to persevere in any undertaking. The old dam was fringed by dead trees which had been killed by the force of the water, giving to the scene a particularly desolate appearance. It is scarcely necessary to state that these have long since been removed, and the whole landscape changed. There were then few traces of human occupancy, save those afforded by the ruins of the old mining camps, which, too, were discouraging.
Having owned and dealt in orange and lemon groves, he felt he knew something about citrus growing, and so began his connection with the Valley in that capacity. He has always maintained his interest in the citrus industry, although his operations have expanded to cover many lines. He built the Mission Garage, Redlands, and sold the business in 1913 to Bartlett Brothers of Detroit, Michigan, an orange grove on Redlands Heights. In the fall of 1916 he purchased the Doctor Blaire group of log cabins, then thirty years old. There is a main road frontage of 307 feet, and he paid $5,000 for this property, which today is almost priceless because of the improvements he has put upon it. The following spring he bought of Judge Rex Goodcell 146 1/2 feet road frontage, containing his present modern residence. Combining these properties, he has arranged cabins into a most picturesque and modern camp, which he has named Indian Lodge. Two years later he bought two-thirds of an acre from the Pine Knob Company, and in 1921 leased for twenty-two years four and one-half acres adjoining. On all of this property he has erected many cabins, and has them all modern equipped and furnished. The camp is most centrally located, and is very popular. It has a capacity of about sixty people. When he came here there were no buildings between his camp and the I. S. store. Since making his purchase he sold a portion of the Goodcell property at sixty dollars per front foot, which added to his profits, makes this a most fortunate investment.
In 1898 Mr. Holmes married at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Miss Blanche M. Walton, of that city, and they became the parents of four children, namely: Alden Walton, who was born at Redlands in 1899, graduated from the Redlands High School and is now a senior at Leland Stanford University. Through his mother he is a direct descendant of John Alden of Mayflower stock. The second child, Charles Chester, was born at Redlands in 1902, graduated from the Redlands High School, and is now in his junior year at Leland Stanford University. J. Walton, born at Redlands in 1907, is a student of the Redlands High School. Lillian, who was born in Los Angeles County, California, in 1909, is also attending the Redlands High School. Mr. Holmes is determined that all of his children shall receive the best educational advantages obtainable, and they are proving a source of great comfort to him in the progress they are making.
Mr. Holmes belongs to Redlands Lodge, B. P. O. E., but aside from that he has no connections outside his business and family ties. His interests center in Bear Valley, and he and Bartlett Brothers organized the Bear Valley Chamber of Commerce, of which he is for the second term serving as vice-president. This is a live organization, and has played an important part in recent developments in the Valley. Indian Lodge stands upon one of the old camps of this region. When Mr. Holmes acquired possession of it the property was in poor condition, the cabins were in need of repair, and there were practically no improvements. Setting to work with characteristic energy, Mr. Holmes transformed the place, and now has one of the most desirable camps in the entire Valley. He has not acquired his present prosperous and prominent position by any easy road. From the start he has been confronted with obstacles. In his citrus growing he has been frozen out and ruined by hot waves, but has persevered through them all. Best of everything his health has so improved that it is difficult for the stranger to believe that he was ever in anything but a rugged condition. It is such men as Mr. Holmes who make a region. They come into a wilderness and persist until they develop it, and to them, and not to the recent comers, belongs the real credit. From Indian Lodge can be seen a constant stream of automobiles passing over the public highway, and it is difficult to believe that the first automobiles came into the Valley in 1909. Now they are as common as the ducks about the lakes, but prior to 1909 they were unknown in this part of the county. As Mr. Holmes wearily plodded over the mountain trail he not only had no conception of this method of transportation, but he would have regarded anyone as hopelessly insane who would have predicted that passengers would be landed in the Valley from aeroplanes, and yet this happens so often as to now occasion no special comment. In fact Big Bear Valley has been redeemed from the wilderness and is fast taking on metropolitan features, although as long as the great mountains and wonderful lakes remain it will continue to be a healthgiving resort, whose beauties beggar description. The same clean, wind-swept air blows over its spaces and fills the lungs of its people as that which refreshed the pioneer back in 1895, when he gazed with saddened eyes at the desolate scene at the old dam, and now, as then, carries with it a promise of health and encouragement.
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011