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George Goucher: Senator was a pistol-packer

February 24, 2018

Madera County Historical Society
George Goucher.

Not everyone rejoiced at the prospect of creating a new county in 1893. Strong feelings were expressed on both sides of the issue, and occasionally violence was the result. It was for that reason that State Sen. George Goucher carried a pistol.

When the sentiment to create Madera County out of Fresno County grew, one Charles A. Lee seethed with resentment. He lived in the foothill area of the proposed new county, and he was against its formation, as were a number of his neighbors.

During one debate on the proposed creation of the new county, Senator Goucher arose from his seat on the floor of the Senate to complain of Lee’s verbal attacks from the visitor’s gallery. The Sergeant-at-arms was directed to remove Lee from the chamber, whereupon the disgruntled anti-divisionist continued his verbal attacks on Goucher out in the hall, within the hearing of Goucher’s bodyguard, Fred Hamstead.

While Lee was holding forth against Goucher, Hamstead walked up to him and “decorated his countenance with several scientific blows.” At that point, Goucher came on the scene, as did the sheriff.

“See here, Senator,” the lawman said, “You will have to disarm right now. I don’t propose to have any shooting here and won’t stand for any nonsense of that kind. Give me your weapon.”

Goucher replied, “I will keep my revolver. This man (Lee) has been making threats against my life, and I have a right to protect myself.” With that, Goucher strode away into the history books.

On Jan. 28, 1893, he became part of the conspiracy to dismember Fresno County.  After a rigged election determined that it was the “will of the people” to slice off the northern part of Fresno County to create Madera County, Goucher reported the vote in the Senate and introduced a bill to give the people what they had asked for.

In this he was successful; the legislature authorized an election that was held on May 16, 1893. It had been a long struggle, one that had almost cost the lawmaker his life, but that was the price to be paid for being a Madera County Mutineer in the Secession of 1893.


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