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The Madera Tribune

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Madera: A century ago

December 1, 2017

Madera County Historical Society
John H. Barnett, shown here on the right, was a busy man 100 years ago. Not only did he have to keep the peace in Madera and patrol its streets for speeders, he had to make sure the town was safe from a German who had a cache of dynamite.

November 1917


ITALIAN DRIVER GIVEN JAIL SENTENCE — Joe Sutti, an Italian rancher residing in the Chowchilla country, is spending 10 days in the county jail and will also have to pay a fine of 50 dollars for driving an automobile while intoxicated. Sutti was driving to Madera on the wrong side of the road on F Street. It was foggy, and J.P. Peterson did not see his lights. The result was a head-on collision at about 15 miles per hour. When Marshal Barnett took Sutti from his machine, he was so much under the influence that he staggered over to the side of the road and lay down. He was taken before Justice of the Peace G.W. Raburn that night in order that the court might take into consideration his condition.


LOCAL GERMAN FOUND WITH DYNAMITE — John C. Gretlein, a German resident of this city who resides on K Street, was made to surrender a quantity of explosives consisting of three sticks of dynamite, nine caps, and three feet of fuse. It had been reported to the local officers that Gretlein had the dynamite, and knowing his nationality the matter was referred to J.M. Griffin, state explosives inspector, who ordered that they be confiscated. Gretlein turned the explosives over to City Marshal John H. Barnett. They were then sold to Fred Barcroft the hardware merchant. Gretlein is a dealer in junk and said he used the powder to break up junk material.


GYPSY GETS WOMAN’S MONEY — A Mexican woman, the wife of a section hand at Fairmead, was robbed of $35 in cash Sunday by a Gypsy fortune teller who was travelling in an automobile. The Gipsy called at the home of the Mexican woman and asked to tell her fortune. The woman consented and was informed that she would have to place “all of her money in a cloth and place it in the front of her dress. A few mysterious passes were then made and the Mexican woman was told a few things. The Gypsy then departed. When the Mexican woman reached in her dress for the handkerchief containing her money, it was gone.


GIRL WEEPS BUT PAYS HER FINE — When Miss C.L. Carter was arrested this morning and charged with exceeding the speed limit, she was hauled into court where she wept bitter tears. They were not mere sobs but wailing such as is heard in times of grave distress and sorrow. She said she was sorry that she had passed through Madera and that she was not used to perambulating upon a pavement which made her car skittish. All of the time the young woman was lamenting, Judge Raburn sat in stern silence and her escort stood by and looked on, lacking the nerve or the price to come to her rescue. After a few minutes, the ten dollars was handed over, and Miss Carter went on her way, sadder but wiser.


MEATLESS DAY AT YOSEMITE CAFÉ — Tuesday will be a meatless day in this city, at least as far as the Yosemite Café is concerned. Proprietors of this popular eating place have declared their intention of having at least one meatless day each week, It will be as hard to get meat on those days as it is for the Germans to win the war. The local café is deserving of considerable praise for its patriotism. The chef has been busily engaged today making up the bill of fare for tomorrow’s meal. A general invitation is extended to all people in this city to enjoy one meatless meal at the Yosemite, and it is hoped that the proprietors will find it a profitable day.


GIRL ASSAULTED WHILE ON WAY HOME — Another crime has been added to the long list of assaults that have been reported in this county. Margaret Franchi, the 16-year-old daughter of R. Franchi, was assaulted Thursday by a man unknown to her. The crime was committed while the young girl was on her way home from the post office. Had it not been for the timely arrival of George Vogeler, who heard the terrifying cries of the girl, she might have been murdered by the fiend. The assailant rammed his fingers down her throat to stop her from screaming and choked her with the other hand until blood ran from her nose. The man did not leave until Mr. Vogeler arrived.


TOOK GUN TO STOP SPEEDER — About the speediest speeder recorded in this county was arrested by Deputy Sheriff A.W. Clark and Constable A.J. Russell Sunday morning. Louis Deffuagh, a resident of Pennsylvania, who was touring California, drove past the officers making 50 miles per hour. The lawmen sounded their warning to stop a number of times, but the man kept going. Constable Russell pulled his gun and kicked up the dust in the bank of the road near the speeding car with a bullet. The driver decided that there was something going on and he stopped. Deffuagh was fined $10 and left town cured of the speed habit.


SHERIFF PLEADS GUILTY AND PAYS FINE — Sheriff J.F. Lewis appeared before Justice of the Peace Raburn this morning and entered a plea of guilty. A fine of $15 was imposed which the Sheriff paid without a murmur because it wasn’t his fine. Joe Brooks of Los Angeles, who had been charged with speeding, asked the Sheriff to enter a plea of guilty for him and “square it with the court.” The Sheriff’s deputies have put a bug in Judge Raburn’s ear, and the next time the Sheriff appears and enters a plea of guilty for someone, he will be given a straight jail sentence. The plan is to make a “trusty” out of him at the jail. The Sheriff merely chuckled.


HORACE NEEDS A CRANK — “Kindly put an ad in the paper tonight asking the fellow who found my automobile crank for goodness sake to return it,” says Tax Collector Horace Macon this afternoon. Horace’s crank is a detachable one, and it detached itself somewhere between his home and the post office. Someone had the goodness of heart to pick it up but hasn’t returned it. Mr. Macon is in sore distress because these are cold mornings, and his self- starter doesn’t operate as it should when the weather is cold. This morning Horace started his machine with the crank and then forgot to put it away under the seat.


CHOWCHILLA ORATOR IS CRAZY — Herbert Slocum, probably one of the best read men in this county, was arrested Friday on a charge of being insane and brought to the county jail. This morning he was examined by Drs. Ransom and Hely and was found to be insane. He was committed to the asylum in Stockton. As a result of his reading, he has always been a great talker, and when he lost his mind, his talking proclivities increased, and he orates constantly. While he was in the courtroom this morning, he entertained quite a crowd of spectators who were attracted to the place by Slocum’s ravings.

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