gold rush settlers

Historic Individuals

Some Famous Pioneers of California

  • Rhoades, Thomas… “Born in Muhlenberg, Kentucky, about 1794, Rhoads married Elizabeth Forster and, following service on the western frontier in the War of 1812, moved to east central Illinois in 1820, pioneering in Edgar County. He eventually became involved in surveying and constructing the national pike as it threaded its way toward the Mississippi. Rhoads led a large family group from Missouri to California in 1846. Eventually he settled in Utah, where he held several public and Mormon Church offices. He is said to have been responsible for the secret acquisition of gold for the Mormon mint.”

This information is an excerpt from “Thomas Rhoads, Forgotten Mormon Pioneer of 1846,” in the Nebraska History Magazine, courtesy of the Nebraska State Historical Society. Permission granted by the author, J. Kenneth Davies. Read the entire article for a more detailed account of Thomas Rhoades. 

  • Earp, Wyatt… Wyatt Earp’s mother died while he was young. His father brought him and his brother to San Bernardino and married a Mormon pioneer, Ann (Annie) Cadd. Wyatt and his family were freighters and famous in San Bernardino and the early history of the west.
  • Hunt, Jefferson…was a captain of the Mormon Battaion. He acted as a guide for forty-niners and freighters through the Cajon Pass. He was the guide of the 1851 Wagon Train to establish San Bernardino as a settlement. He was elected one of two legislators from Los Angeles County to the new State Legislature. He proposed the legislation that divided San Bernardino County from LA County. He helped to pass legislation to build a road from San Pedro harbor to Cajon Pass.
  • Holcomb, William…married a Mormon San Bernardino Pioneer. He discovered, not the first, but the largest gold deposit in the Big Bear Mountains which created the Southern California gold rush.
  • Metcalf, John…was a Mormon convert from Australia, and brought the first alfalfa to the United States. This was a monumental event in agricultural history.
  • Ralphs, George Albert..was born in Joplin, Missouri and as a very young chiild he traveled to Utah with his family. They later moved on to the San Bernardino settlement. George founded the Ralph’s Grocery Compnay in 1873, the first of its kind in the United States. He died in 1914 in San Bernardino County.
  • Styles, Ed…was born in Spanish Fork, Utah and later lived in San Bernardino County. He became famous for his 20 mule team Borax wagons.