Mystery Photograph

1925 Photo of Third St in San Bernardino
Click image to enlarge (1 MB PDF)

  • In June 2007, Fontana Councilman John Roberts presented this photograph to Mayor Patrick J. Morris of San Bernardino. This photograph was taken by Councilman Roberts' grandfather, Evan V. Davis.

  • At the time of the presentation, Councilman Roberts knew only that the photograph was taken in San Bernardino.

  • Mayor Morris asked the San Bernardino Bicentennial Committee to see if they could determine the location and date the picture was taken.

  • After many hours of research by the staff of the Feldheym Library, the Historical Society, friends and family, the following information was obtained:

LOCATION: Third Street
DIRECTION: Looking west toward "F" Street
DATE: March 26, 1925
WEATHER: Cloudy, with intermittent showers (.06 of an inch of rainfall)
BUSINESSES (Starting at right of photograph):

  • Gateway Hotel
556 Third Street
  • J.C. Penny Company
556 Third Street
  • Hearsh Bros. (Shoes, Clothing)
564 Third Street
  • Bollong and Nicholson
574 Third Street
  • "Eat Alfred's Pure Ice Cream" sign
574 Third Street
  • Chaffee's Grocery
574 Third Street
  • T & A Drugs
576 Third Street
  • Sunset Hotel
592 Third Street
  • American National Bank
    (Inter­section with "F" Street)
598 Third Street
  • Hotel Roanoke
608 Third Street
551 Third Street

Hangtown Parade in 1925

  • At the left side of the original photograph, two covered wagons can be seen in the middle of the automobile traffic.

  • The San Bernardino Society for California Pioneers, held a parade from the National Orange Show, through the streets of downtown starting at 2 o'clock on March 26th.

  • Mayor Grant Holcomb, Chief of Police A. A. Burcham and John Andreson headed the parade.

  • A Comanche Indian rode horseback, leading two covered wagons and cars containing members of the Native Sons of the Golden West.

  • The Pioneers rode on a truck and played violins and accordions.

  • The parade was an advertisement for the "Hangtown" celebration that opened that evening at the National Orange Show, where the Native Sons were to stage a three night celebration.

  • Buildings of frontier type were constructed at the National Orange Show to represent Hangtown of old, including the Last Chance Saloon, the Grizzly Bear Theater; several merchandize stores, a bank and various other structures.

  • The Pioneers built a campfire, surrounded by their covered wagons, ox yokes, chains, '49 rockers used for gold digging, '49 gold pans, picks, shovels and axes.

  • The women were dressed in calico and wearing sunbonnets. The men wore woolen shirts, bandana neckties, slough hats, all bent on re-living the days of Hangtown in 1849, rejoicing they had succeeded in crossing the plains after a perilous journey.


Historic Location of Hangman's Tree
Image Courtesy of Dolores Steele

  • The Pioneers of 1849 arrived in the California frontier mining town known as Hangtown, where a great majority of miners believed in law and order.

  • The miners of Hangtown dealt swift justice to law-breakers. They organized a vigilance committee and after a fair trial found three men guilty of robbery and attempting to commit murder.

  • The three men were hanged from a nearby oak tree, and the town acquired the name of Hangtown, which was later changed to Placerville.

  • Note at the top left of the original photograph there is a banner strung across the street.

Fred A Wilson Mayoral Campaign Banner

  • The General Election for the City of San Bernardino was held on April 13, 1925.

  • Fred A. Wilson received 3,124 votes in his bid for Mayor.

  • Grant Holcomb was re-elected Mayor with 3,290 votes.


William F. Holcomb

  • Grant Holcomb was the grandson of pioneer William F. Holcomb, who discovered gold in Holcomb Valley in 1860.

  • He was the father of W. R. "Bob" Holcomb who was Mayor of San Bernardino from 1971 to 1985 and again from 1989 to 1993.

  • Grant Holcomb, born at Ninth and "G" Streets, was educated in city schools.

  • He attended Leland Stanford University, studying law. After graduation and admission to the bar, he began his practice in San Bernardino.

  • Two months prior to the election, the City Council selected him to become Mayor to succeed S. W. NcNabb, who retired to accept appointment as U.S. District Attorney of the southern district of California.


Fred A Wilson
Courtesy of Margery Wilson

  • Fred A Wilson was born in Gibson City, Illinois, and lived in San Bernardino for 61 years and in his later years at 3418 Manzanita Drive.

  • He began practicing law in San Bernardino in 1912. He was associated with several prominent local attorneys including Ralph Swing (Swing & Wilson) and Martin Coughlin (Coughlin & Wilson), and in 1946 he and his son William H. Wilson formed the law firm of Wilson and Wilson.

  • From 1930 to 1934, Wilson served as San Bernardino City Attorney and from 1934 to 1938 was a member of the Water Commissioners. He ran for state senate in 1948 (unsuccessfully).

  • Mr. Wilson was a prominent water law attorney who represented various local citrus growers and argued cases before both California and U.S. Supreme Courts.

  • He was one of the principals in the development of the Perris Hill Plunge.
  • Fred A. Wilson retired from the firm in 1965 and died on April 25, 1973 at the age of 87.


Fred A. Wilson