Madera County Historical Society
John Barnett, shown here, second from right, after raiding a moonshine still, was Madera’s city marshal before he was sheriff. One hundred years ago this month Barnett had to disarm a knife-wielding, would-be burglar at night.
100 Years Ago
Nov. 12, 1917
BOY PASSED CHECKS; KILLS SELF — In trouble and about to be taken to the detention home, Clarence Miller, a 15-year-old boy, swallowed cyanide of potassium yesterday and ended his life. A quantity of the poison found in his pocket left little doubt as to the cause of his death. The boy was the one who passed a number of worthless checks in this city a few days ago, and it was for the crime committed here that he ended his life. One of the worthless checks was cashed by a local department store, and W.C. Tighe swore to a complaint against the lad. It was placed in the hands of Marshall Barnett.
TEACHER REPORTED ‘SEEKING THNGS’ — Judge E.L. McCapes of Raymond was in Madera today and consulted with District Attorney Stanley Murray regarding the issuance of an arrest warrant for Miss Ada Shirley, teacher of the Willow Creek school district, on a charge of insanity. According to Mr. McCapes, Mr. S.M. Dyer, clerk of the school board, asked the teacher to resign, and when she refused, an effort to secure her apprehension was made. The teacher lives alone in a house near the school, and she claims that someone is trying to rob her and that someone is trying to burn her with electricity.
CITY RAISES MANY SALARIES — Three city employees got a boost in their salaries Monday night, but the city trustees exempted themselves. The trio, who have been working hard and faithfully without an increase in wages while all the time the prices of flour and roast beef have been climbing skyward, asked for the raise. They were Clyde Flum, relief man for the city; “Doc” O’Donnell, the night pump man; and Joe Scott., the city fire truck driver. Flum had been receiving $70 per month and the other two $75. The salaries of all three were raised to $90 per month. After discussion, Street Superintendent H.M. Cunningham was also given a raise.
ARRESTED MAN WITH BIG KNIFE — A man believed to have been in the act of burglarizing the residence of Harry Munter last night was placed under arrest by City Marshall J.H. Barnett and Night Watchman Chas. Hobbs. He was armed with a big knife and attempted to use it on the arresting officer. He succeeded in cutting Marshall Barnett on one finger when the knife was taken away from him and he was taken to jail. The assailant gave his name as James Lovine. He was standing under a tree in the dark when Marshall Barnett grabbed him. The fellow made a thrust at the officer who was not aware that he had a weapon. Marshall Barnett is wearing a rag around his finger as a result.
CAR TURNS OVER BUT ALL ESCAPE — A fortunate accident occurred Saturday evening on Robertson Boulevard near Chowchilla. Three women and two children were involved, and outside of a few minor cuts and bruises, no one was injured. The occupants of the car were Grandma Quant, her daughter Mrs. Maud Burton, and Mrs. Ed Stratton and her two children. The cause of the accident was a tire explosion. The auto turned over, and all parties were thrown clear of the machine except Mrs. Stratton, who was driving. She managed to shut off the machine while kicking at the switch with her foot. The vehicle was then lifted off of her.
WAR ON RABBITS TO BEGIN — War has been declared on the rabbits in this county in earnest. A plan that has been in effect in Merced County was put in place here. Madera County donated $500 to purchase shells for the first shoot. After they were distributed, the shoot was held under the supervision of the farm center. Up to the present time, 3,500 rabbits have been killed and marketed. The project is now self-sustaining, the rabbits netting enough to keep hunters supplied with ammunition. Farm Advisor W.N. Birch states that the rabbits are one of the greatest pests of the county and he will exert every effort to eliminate them.
INDIAN CHARLIE GETS JAIL SENTENCE — The case of the people vs. Charlie Williams, the half-breed Indian who was charged with committing a statutory offense upon 16-year-old Annie Lewis has been decided, and the defendant will go to jail. W.H. Larew, attorney for the defense made a winning appeal for jail instead of prison by calling attention to how little stress was put on crimes of this character by the Indians. He said that the lawmakers of this state recognized the low state of civilization of Indians and cited the fact that an Indian woman cannot be tried for being a public prostitute. He said that an Indian has a horror and a dread of going to the penitentiary and nothing would be gained by sending Charlie there.
ANTI-SALOON COMMITTEE FORMED — At a meeting which took place last night, an organization that will be known as the “Business Men’s Protective League” was formed. The group will wage an active campaign against the wide-open saloons in this city. There were 22 local businessmen and a few ranchers present at the meeting. A sufficient amount of funds has been pledged to start the campaign. As a result of the formation of the organization, it may be that an active campaign and a wet and dry election may not be needed in this city. If the recent request of the County Council of Defense to close the saloons is granted, the local organization will drop the liquor fight.
WILL HAVE RIFLES TO DRILL WITH — Members of the 39th Company of California Home Guards will soon have real army rifles to drill with. Attorney Joseph Barcroft has been endeavoring for some time to get the members of the Madera Rifle Club to loan their rifles to the Home Guard to use in their weekly drills, and practically every member has generously loaned his firearm for this purpose. There are 31 Craig rifles owned by the local men, and these are being turned over to the Home Guard. It is believed that the local guard will become more enthused in their work and will turn out more readily for drills every Wednesday night.
THEY THOUGHT THE CLERK WAS A NEWS REPORTER — County Clerk W.R. Curtin received his first real thrill from being a news reporter last Saturday afternoon when a young couple appeared at his office for a marriage license. About the first thing they asked was to keep it out of the newspapers after being told by relatives that the best way to get something in the papers was to ask them to keep it out. While the couple giggled, Clerk Curtin grabbed for a pencil and told them he was a reporter. The members of the party glanced at each other and without a word beat it out the door. The groom almost forgot his marriage license in his haste to get away.