Henry Clay Daulton: First to die

February 27, 2018

Madera County Historical Society
Henry Clay Daulton.

On the afternoon of Oct. 28, 1893, Henry Clay Daulton got his reward for joining the Madera Mutineers in the Secession of 1893. He had been to a meeting of the brand new Madera County Board of Supervisors where he had presided as that body’s first chairman.

Five hours later he was found lying on the ground with one leg caught in the running gear of his buggy. The top of his head had been torn off and his right leg was broken in 60 places.

Earlier in the year, Daulton had been one of the prime movers to create Madera County out of the northern end of Fresno County, raising fury in the nearby foothills.

In May 1893, a vote had been taken, and the proposition passed; 1,179 residents voted to form the new county of Madera, while 368 voted against the proposal. Most of these dissenters lived in the foothills and had been vociferous in their opposition to the split. They knew that to do so would mean that the balance of power would shift to the flatlands around Madera, the new county seat.

To top it off, Henry Clay Daulton, a foothill rancher, one of their own, was elected chairman of the new Board of Supervisors. Daulton’s standing in the mountains of Madera County plummeted. The people there were furious!

No one knows what really happened, but this man who had made two trips to California in covered wagons — this man who for more than 20 years had traveled to Fresno in a buggy — this cattleman who knew horses, somehow got his leg caught in his own rig and was dragged for six miles to his death.

The coroner held an inquest, and Daulton was buried with considerable ceremony, but a search of the county records today will not yield a death certificate or the coroner’s report. The only official recognition of Daulton’s death is in the minutes of the Board of Supervisors. As to the details of his accident, they were buried with the pioneer politician. It looks as if we will never know the whole truth behind the strange demise of Henry Clay Daulton, the first of the Madera Mutineers to meet his Maker.

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