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. He worked with William Sublette on the upper Missouri River two years later. He returned to St. Louis, where Nathaniel Wyeth hired him 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 in 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 and served as justice of the peace, county assessor, and other offices, including sheriff in 1859. He died in 1883.