Who is John P. Squibob?

Chapters of E Clampus Vitus are named by their members for various events, locations and in many instances a famous person in western history. “Lost Dutchman” in Arizona for the never found Lost Dutchman Gold Mine, “Billy Holcolmb” for the settler of the Holcomb valley in Riverside County and about 45 others. Yerba Buena #1 (San Francisco) was the first chapter established in the new revitalization of “ECV” in 1932, Platrix #2 (Los Angeles) was next and then followed others numbered in order. Somewhere along the line when the number reached 7, it was decided that a sequential numbering system did not fit in with the organizations motto, “Credo Quia Absurdum”,” I believe because it is absurd” and chapters are now allowed to pick any number that is appropriate to their name sake.

Who is John P Squibob? His real name is George Horatio Derby

Lt. George Horatio Derby

U.S. Army Topographical Corps


Born in Norfolk County Mass, near the town of Dedham. He entered West Point in 1842 and graduated in 1846, see picture above. It was during his training at West Point that Derby picked up the nick name of “Squibob”. Derby was a prankster and his antics at West Point cost him his chevrons.   Although he had earned    Corporal stripes in his first year he would later lose them for his practical jokes and cartoons of the Professors.

Derby received his commission in Ordinance but within in 6 weeks he was transferred to the elite Topographical Engineers, a corps of Officers whose map making and engineering talents would chart the vast frontier of this growing country.

In 1853 Derby was sent to San Diego, hence our chapter number. He designed and had built the first dike that that would divert water of the San Diego River from going into the harbor into False Bay, (Mission Bay). Although his original dike did not hold, Derby made it clear that it was too small and under-built. Funding from Washington was a problem. The dike has been built and rebuilt several times in order to permanently divert the river to the point where it is today. Derby was also quite an artist, he loved to draw and he used his expertise in drawing in his map making. Below are some of Derby’s cartoons.

Derby was a humorist, he loved writing and at one point he wrote articles for the San Diego Herald Newspaper. He did many self portraits of himself (see above). With his pointed ears and long nose, he said that “they put my nose in a printing press and pulled on my ears!”