Valentine Johnson Herring was a trapper in the American West that settled down to become a government official. In trapping circles, he was universally known as “Old Rube.”
Born in Illinois in 1812, Herring received a fair education as a child and when he grew up, he went to St. Louis, Missouri. In 1831, he was hired by John Gantt for a trapping expedition in the Rocky Mountains. Two years later, he was working with William Sublette on the upper Missouri River. He then returned to St. Louis, where he was hired by Nathaniel Wyeth to guide him to Fort Hall, Idaho.
He eventually became a free trapper. In 1841-42, he was in charge of Fort Lupton, in eastern Colorado. Spending considerable time at Taos, New Mexico, he got into a gunfight with a man named Henry Beer over a Mexican woman. In 1849 he went to California, where he settled in San Bernardino County. He became superintendent of schools in 1853, served as justice of the peace, county assessor, and other offices, including sheriff in 1859. He died in 1883.