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History in the Week of March 11

Madera County Historical Society One hundred years ago, Miller & Lux, claiming riparian water rights, sued a Madera farmer for using water from the San Joaquin River to irrigate his olive trees. The farmer’s defense was that riparian rights did not obtain if the river was navigable. This photo taken seven years earlier seems to show he may have had a case.


50 Years Ago

Week of March 11, 1968

BITTER HONORED FOR SERVICE TO EDUCATION — Local rancher Henry Bitter has received the Golden Apple award for “outstanding service as a layman in the field of education.” The award comes from the Central Valley Elementary Education Association. Bitter was sited for his years of service in the Eastin-Arcola School District and countywide work with 4-H Clubs and with handicapped children’s programs. Wallace McFall, Eastin-Arcola principal, who is president of the Madera County unit of the Association, presented the award during the annual spring conference of the organization.

PAROLEE FACES WELFARE FRAUD — A 31-year prison inmate on parole was to be brought to Madera today on charges of operating a polished welfare fraud scheme involving at least three other counties. Ralph Jerome Selz, 60, is accused of drawing several Old Age Security pensions. He has been on parole for 18 months after serving a prison term for murder. Social workers became suspicious when Selz appeared with a form made out in advance and a birth certificate that had been corrected. He was found to be driving a vehicle that was registered to a dead man whose name Selz had used for a reference. When picked up, Selz had $3,100 in traveler’s checks in his possession.

AUBREY BAKER SEEKS SEAT ON COUNTY BOARD — Aubrey Baker took out nomination papers today for the District 3 seat on the Board of Supervisors. Baker will oppose Elmo Del Bianco for the position on the board to be vacated by L.C. Thompson, whose term expires Jan. 1, 1969. Baker is president of the Madera County Farm Bureau and operates farm properties south of Madera in District 1 but lives in District 3. With the filing deadline Friday, indications are that the District 3 election will be a two-way race between Del Bianco and Baker. Several other potential candidates have reported decisions not to run. The election will be June 3.

DUCEY’S LODGE SOLD FOR $350,000 TAG — Ducey’s Lodge in Bass Lake has been sold for a reported $350,000. New owner is A.L. Westman of Oxnard, a building contractor. The lodge, widely known as a vacation spot, was built in 1939 by C.E. (Buddy) Freeman and known as Freeman’s Lodge. It was later operated by Carl Brix, Al Zingel, and L.R. Jeffords and known as Bass Lake Lodge. In 1950, it was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Mauree Ducey. Each owner modernized and added improvements. The regular spring maintenance crew is getting the lodge ready for the new owner for an April 1 opening date. It is reported new cabins will be built.

$25,000 BAIL FOR $13 CHECK — A $13 check has turned out to be expensive for the defendant who is accused of attempting to forge it, to say nothing of attorneys, bondsmen, Superior Court staff members, and potential jurors. A bench warrant was issued this morning for the arrest of Fayrene Sparks, about 40, of the Bay Area, who failed to show up for the second day to face a jury trial. Bail was upped to $25,000. Mrs. Sparks’ only contact with the court was a telephone call in which she said she was waiting for her husband to receive his paycheck. She was warned to come anyway, but by mid-morning, had not yet arrived. She is accused of attempting to pass the forged check in a local bank three days before Christmas. 100 Years Ago

Week of March 11, 1918

MILLER & LUX ENDEAVORING TO STOP ALL RIVER WATER USE — The case of Miller and Lux to prevent the diversion of the waters of the San Joaquin River by property owners holding land along the stream is assuming an interesting aspect locally. The latest party to be made a defendant is H.G. Johnson who has started an olive orchard this side of Herndon bridge and who has been pumping water for irrigation out of the river. Mr. Johnson owns 162 acres along the river and claims a right to the water from the fact that his land is contiguous to the stream. Mr. Johnson has procured a local attorney to represent him and will fight the big corporation on the ground that the stream is navigable and that riparian rights do not hold good on navigable streams.

DYNAMITE FOUND IN STREET — A gunnysack containing five sticks of giant powder was found in the middle of D Street just south of the canal bridge Friday afternoon about 4 o’clock. The discovery was made by William Hall who reported it to City Marshall J.H. Barnett. Mr. Barnett then notified J.M. Griffin, the federal inspector, and an effort was made to locate the owner or where it was purchased. The brand of powder found is not handled by any of the local merchants, and no one here claims to have sold this amount of powder to anyone on Friday. The powder was turned over to Fred Barcroft who placed it in safekeeping.

LOCAL MAN STEPS INTO BIG FORTUNE — John Dietz of Santa Rosa has made J.S. Miller of Madera a rich man. Dietz and Miller had been close friends during the days they worked in the bean fields near Salida. Last summer while mining in the Sierra Mountains of Humboldt County, Dietz struck gold in three claims. Remembering a good turn Miller did for him in Salida, Dietz filed one of the claims in his name. Then he came to Madera looking for his friend. Dietz found Miller working on the Windrem Place, and when they saw each other, they embraced. It was some minutes before Dietz could control himself long enough to relate the good news.

STEAM LAUNDRY MUST GO — Objecting to having the old steam laundry, which was recently destroyed by fire, rebuilt in its former location, a number of residents in the Hughes Addition appeared before the City Trustees and asked that the city take steps to have this laundry moved to some other part of the municipality. It was alleged that the laundry has been a noisy, smelly, dirty institution. One of the objectors, John C. Walling, declared the laundry to be a nuisance and a most unsanitary place. He compared it with the sewer when it comes to odors. The trustees finally voted to put a hold on the application to rebuild until an investigation can be made.

CHILD IS OPERATED ON — A delicate operation was performed this morning at the Madera Sanitarium upon the 13 month-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. Gendron. The child was unfortunately born with one deformed or what is commonly known as a club foot. For several months an effort has been made to straighten the foot by keeping it in a plaster-of-paris cast but when the cast was removed, the foot again assumed its original shape, and the only cure appeared to be by means of the knife. Dr. Ray R. Dearborn performed the operation upon the child’s foot, cutting the tendons, leaders, and nerves that kept the foot in its abnormal shape. It was again placed in a cast where it will be left for several months. The operation was a most successful one and Dr. Dearborn feels positive that the child will have as good a foot as anyone.

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