Henry Clay Daul-ton, with his 17,000-acre sheep and cattle ranch, represented a powerful political and economic force in the local area. Having been appointed by the governor in 1893 to head the commission to organize the new county of Madera, he was elected as its first chairman of the Board of Supervisors. Daulton’s influence in those early days can hardly be overstated. His story is well known.
What is not so well known are Daulton’s ties to one of California’s most violent figures from California’s past. State Supreme Court Justice David S. Terry, “the dueling judge,” and Henry Clay Daulton had more than a casual acquaintance, which dramatically affected Madera County’s history.
Terry came to California during the Gold Rush, and within a few years had secured a seat on the State Supreme Court. Always politically active, Terry injected a little color and a lot of violence into anything he touched.
When vigilantism threatened the stability of San Francisco in the 1850s, Terry appeared on the scene to deal personally with those who would take the law into their own hands. Within a very short time, Terry took a Bowie knife to the throat of a member of that lawless element, and for that act was himself taken into custody by the rabble...