Miles Wallace: Chairman of rebellion

Madera County Historical Society Miles Wallace.


There was no logical reason why Miles Wallace should have supported the creation of Madera County. Unlike Henry Clay Daulton, Thomas Hughes, George Washington Mordecai, or George Goucher, he owned no land north of the San Joaquin River. As far as anyone could tell, he had nothing to gain with the creation of Madera County, but then not very many people knew about the debt Wallace owed to Captain Russel Perry Mace.

Mace had been in on the ground floor of planning for the Madera rebellion, and he was one of the prime movers who put together the strategies for conducting the crucial straw vote that would take place on Jan. 28, 1893.

Although ill health dictated that Mace remain in Madera that night, the leaders of the Madera contingent sought his counsel, and he advised that the chairman of that pivotal meeting at Kutner Hall be someone sympathetic to county division. It was Mace who suggested that Wallace be given the gavel.

The divisionists, as those who favored the creation of Madera County were called, went along with Mace, even though Wallace hailed from Sanger, deep in anti-divisionist territory. Mace was certain that Wallace would listen to reason.

As things turned out, after the Maderans lured the Fresnans out of Kutner Hall with a false fire alarm on that Jan. evening, they installed Wallace to chair the meeting. When the Fresnans returned to the Hall, Wallace called for a standing vote on division then counted all those who were standing as “Yes” votes — even the Fresnans who had no chairs and had been forced to stand.

Many folks south of the San Joaquin River were surprised at Wallace’s defection, but then they didn’t know about the deal he made with Captain Mace. You see, according to Joe Barcroft, Wallace owed Mace some money, but after the January meeting, that debt was forgiven. In return, Wallace conducted the meeting in accordance with the plan.

But the real payoff came 18 months after chairing the county division meeting. Miles Wallace moved to Madera and was elected district attorney of the fledgling county he had helped to create.