Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera County Supervisor chairman Tom Wheeler, left, presents Clay and Dusty Daulton with 125 year anniverary commemorative pins.
Supervisors, Madera South students hold cemetery celebration
Although the celebration of Madera County’s 125th birthday wound up in a cemetery Tuesday, it was anything but dead. Hosted by the Madera Cemetery District, the Board of Supervisors, a talented assembly of students and teachers from Madera South High School gathered in Arbor Vitae Cemetery to pay tribute to the county’s Quasquicentennial and the man who was the prime mover in creating it, Henry Clay Daulton.
The Supervisors, who have been leading a year-long observance of Madera County’s 125th anniversary, adjourned their morning session Tuesday and met in Arbor Vitae next to Daulton’s grave at 2 p.m. to continue their meeting.
Chairman Tom Wheeler gaveled the meeting to order, and after the roll call and the Pledge of Allegiance, introduced Madera South history teacher Jeff Moosios, whose Historical Literacy class has been assembling the story of how Daulton and a handful of his fellow Maderans led the rebellion that produced Madera County.
With the Supervisors on one side of Daulton’s grave and Madera South music master Roger Harabedian’s 50-member choir on the opposite side, students from Moosios’ class told the story of how Daulton, in 1893, led 400 insurgents into Fresno’s Kutner Hall and hijacked a town hall meeting. Through the subterfuge of a false fire alarm, they gained control and forced a vote that resulted in separating everything north of the San Joaquin River from Fresno County and turning it into Madera County.
The students related how Daulton was chosen chairman of Madera County’s first Board of Supervisors and died five months later in a tragic buggy accident while tending to county business. Then, in a moving tribute, Yasmina Jaime stepped to the podium to present a historical treasure — the original, handwritten minutes of the Board of Supervisors from their meeting of Nov. 8, 1893, in which they memorialized their departed colleague. Michelle Godoy-Pena and Alessandra Juarez brought the oral tribute to a close by reading that 125 year-old memorial, which included a poem with a touch of darkness.
“The book is completed; and closed like the day,
And the hand that has written it lays it away.
Dim grow its fancies; Forgotten they lie,
Like coals in the ashes, they darken and die.
Song sinks into silence; the story is told.
The windows are darkened; the hearthstone is cold.
Darker and darker the black shadows fall;
Sleep and oblivion reign over all.”
Nijia Cofield, Emmanuel Hernandez, Melissa Hernandez, and Jackie Villa each presented parts of the Daulton story.
The old minute book was turned over to Chairman Wheeler, and then Harabedian’s singers took the stage. In an emotional rendering of Mansions of the Lord followed by God Bless America, the choir brought the audience to a high level of appreciation. Following that, Leslie Cuevas played Taps.
Madera South principal Oracio Rodriguez then recognized the descendants of Henry Clay Daulton, including his great-great grandson, Henry Clay Daulton III, who responded to the event for the family. Daulton descendants were represented down to the seventh generation by Abby Desmond, the great-great-great-great granddaughter of Henry Clay Daulton.
The community spirit behind the ceremony was palpable. It represented cooperation between the supervisors, the school district, the cemetery district, and Jay Chapel, which gave the students the perfect venue in which to perform.
The students’ oral presentations were the product of Moosios’ Historical Literacy class in which the teenage historians are learning the skills of independent research. They don’t use a textbook but rather consult various on-line sources and their own microfilm library that includes newspapers from 1846 to 1930.
They are building an archive that already boasts several manuscript diaries and hundreds of 19th century letters. Anyone wishing to contribute to the special collection and archives may do so by contacting Madera South High School at 675-4450.