Madera founder’s grave marker has finally found a home
For more than 100 years the tombstone of the man who founded Madera and gave it its name moved from pillar to post after it was taken from the grave it marked in the late 19th century. On Friday it finally came to rest.
William H. Thurman, who was also Madera County’s first sheriff, died in 1895 and was buried in what is now Arbor Vitae Cemetery. Sometime after that, some unknown person took his tombstone, and the granite marker began an odyssey that would finally take it to the cemetery at the James Monroe Children’s Museum via a Fresno television station.
The TV crew had been on assignment in 2005 when it got the call from a Madera women who said she found Thurman’s marker in an abandoned barn. She gave the tombstone to the crew who then turned it over to a local historian.
When Ed Gwartney, the founder of the Children’s Museum, learned of the wandering tombstone that nobody really wanted, he immediately seized the moment and asked for Thurman’s marker. He had just the place for it...