Copy editor’s note: Due to technical difficulties, the column “Coate Tales” will run today in place of “Snapshots of Yesteryears,” which will be published Friday.
No part of the history of Madera is more interesting than that of the Chinese who settled here in the 19th century. Of those pioneer residents, none raises eyebrows any more quickly than the story of Ah Tye.
We don’t know when he came to Madera, but we do know that Ah Tye was working for Mrs. Yee Chung, widow of a prosperous Madera County fruit merchant, by 1903.
His tale begins on August 15 of that year when Jean Chailleau, a Frenchman who owned a small orchard southwest of town, came to Madera looking for Judge Joe Barcroft. He wanted to tell him that he had shot a man by mistake the previous night.
Chailleau told the judge that the barking of his dog woke him up during the night about 11 o’clock. He said he got up thinking coyotes may have been the problem, and when he went outside, he saw something crawling on all fours through the fields, so he fired his shotgun at the “critter” ...