G.W. Mordecai: The Silent Mutineer

March 7, 2018

Madera County Historical Society

George Washington Mordecai.

They were “yelling like devils,” at least that is how the Fresno newspaper described that riotous meeting held in Fresno on January 28, 1893. Several hundred people had gathered for that infamous town hall meeting in Kutner Hall to voice their sentiments on carving out a portion of Fresno County and creating Madera County.

The majority fought for division that night. They yelled, screamed, tore down banners, and in general created what the Expositor called a “Howling Time.”

There was one, however, who didn’t contribute to the commotion. Assemblyman George Washington Mordecai, whose ranch was located just south of Madera, calmly took note of the proceedings.

Now, anyone who knew Mordecai wasn’t surprised that he didn’t stomp and yell like the others. His reputation as a southern gentleman was well known. He had brought that Virginia reserve to Cottonwood Creek in 1868 and had quietly built a prosperous cattle ranch there.


In 1890 Mordecai had been elected to represent Fresno County in the  California Assembly. That’s  when he first became identified with the effort to chop off the northern end of Fresno County and turn it into Madera County.

Mordecai continued to side with the “divisionist” sentiment and he was reelected in 1892. That is when he decided to take action, and that is why he remained so self-composed at Kutner Hall.

Assemblymen Mordecai sat and listened while Henry Clay Daulton, Thomas E. Hughes, Miles Wallace and William Conley made vociferous demands for county division that night, but he didn’t join in on the debate.

After all, the purpose of the meeting had been to allow the citizens to take a straw vote on whether or not they wanted to carve up Fresno County. He was there simply to take note of the vote and carry the results back to the Assembly.

But there was another reason for Mordecai’s stoic demeanor. He didn’t need that town hall vote; he had already made up his mind.

Eighteen days earlier, on January 10, 1893, Mordecai  introduced Assembly Bill 154, “An Act to Create the County of Madera.”

All of that ranting and raving at Kutner Hall was unnecessary as far as Mordecai was concerned. He had made up his mind. He struck the first blow in the Mutiny of 1893, while others were talking about it. He took action and became the Silent Mutineer in the Secession of 1893.


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