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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


WILLIAM EDWIN KNICKERBOCKER is one of the best-known men of Bear Valley, and one who has had supreme faith in its possibilities since his arrival here in 1902, and manifested it by investing heavily in its properties. He was born in Potter County, Pennsylvania, June 10, 1870, a son of Charles Henry and Susan Elizabeth (Robbins) Knickerbocker, farming people.

Growing up in his native county, William Edwin Knickerbocker attended the district schools and continued to assist his father until he reached his majority, his work being confined to the woods. After he was twenty-one years old he began working for others, but continued in the timber until he came to California in 1901, arriving at San Bernardino on Christmas Day of that year. A young man who wasted but little time, he only stopped to have dinner, and then in the afternoon went to Victorville, where he joined a party that hired a four-horse stage and drove to Doble, his objective point, as he had a brother who was engaged there as mining engineer. Mr. Knickerbocker secured employment at Doble, and drove the freight team from the Doble mines to Victorville. Subsequently he engaged in logging in Holcomb Valley.

All of these experiences seemed to be but a preparation for his life in Bear Valley, which began June 29, 1902, when he secured employment with Gus Knight to build cabins in what is now Indian Lodge, and forty other cabins, the greater portion of which were near Bear Valley Dam. In addition to this work he added to his revenue by acting as caretaker of non-resident cabins, and for twelve years and one day he was caretaker at the dam, which required his constant attention summer and winter.

His faith in the future of the Valley led him to purchase various tracts of land, his first one being eighty-four acres of Doctor Allen, about seventeen years ago ; adding to this fourteen acres of the Sanders tract about five or six years ago. He now owns one-fifth interest in Pine Knot Lodge; one-fourth interest in Barlow ranch at Baldwin Lake, together with other real estate interests in the Valley. These purchases were largely made from influential citizens who became discouraged. He exhibited his faith in this locality in direct opposition to the bankers and investors of the vicinity.

Mr. Knickerbocker married at Redlands, September 22, 1903, Rose Anna Pollard, who was born in Pennsylvania, December 12, 1879. Six children were born of this union, five of whom are living. They are splendid specimens of mountain-reared young people, mentally and physically fit. Their summers have been spent in the valley, and their attendance at school limited to the winter months, and yet all of them are rated at a high average in their grades. The eldest, Ellen G., was born in Bear Valley, June 16, 1905, has passed one year in the Redlands High School, and stands as one of the highest in both indoor and outdoor athletics. In the intermediate grade she was captain of the base ball team. The gymnasium was divided into four sections, each faction playing an elimination contest. Her team won first place, and she can play any place on the team. She is fond of outdoor life, shoots, bikes, and, with her father, hunts deer, riding through wild and rugged country with utter ease and fearlessness. Gertrude was born in Pennsylvania, February 13, 1907. Katherine was born at Redlands, December 8, 1909, and died in July, 1910. Marjorie Louise was born at Mentone, California, June 7, 1911. Carroll Edwin was born at Mentone, March 30, 1914. Florence was born at Redlands, June 5, 1919.

Mr. Knickerbocker belongs to Redlands Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Redlands Lodge, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; and Redlands Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He is a member of the Congregational Church. During the winter months he and his family reside at their home on Buena Vista Street, Redlands, but their greatest enjoyment is found after they reach Big Bear Valley with the opening of spring.

By the old residents in the Valley Mr. Knickerbocker is regarded as the best woodsman in this region, and it is stated he can fell a tree^ marking the exact spot where a certain limb will strike ground, before starting to cut, and rarely missing a mark. This proficiency is doubtless the result of early training in the woods. When "Big Sam," a landmark of the Valley, was struck by lightning a few years ago and set on fire, it became necessary to cut down the tree to protect the adjacent cabins. Mr. Knickerbocker felled the blazing monarch of the forest without touching a cabin.

A self-made man, he has acquired all he possesses through his own unaided efforts, and owes no man a dollar.


History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 
By: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County 
And James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County 
With selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period 
of growth and achievement.
Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, 
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011