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History in the Week of June 17

Madera County historical Society Fifty years ago, Jack Netherton, seen here, led this Madera summer school class in his “Fun With the Globe” games as they explored the everyday uses of maps, and globes.


50 Years Ago

Week of June 17, 1968

ARCHEOLOGISTS RESUMING CHOWCHILLA RIVER DIGGINGS — Digging had resumed on the Chowchilla River at the Buchanan Reservoir site for Indian artifacts and the remains of early white settlements. Crews led by Tom King from San Francisco State said Tuesday that the Anthropology Department personnel are at work now in a probable cemetery site about three miles upstream and across the river from the burial grounds and house pits uncovered last year. A concerted effort will be made to investigate the dynamics of early Miwok Indian-White contact, according to King. The history of White occupation of the reservoir region will also be investigated.

PILOT OK AFTER BASS LAKE CRASH — Another plane crash was recorded at Bass Lake this morning, but the occupants walked away unhurt, and the cause was determined to be a mechanical failure. Dr. Paul Anspach and his son of Modesto made a belly landing on the field, denting the propellers and scraping the bottom of the new twin-engine, six-place Piper Navajo after a landing gear failed. The pair came out of the accident safely, although damage to the airplane Dr. Anspach acquired two weeks ago is estimated at $3,000. Last Friday, four persons were killed when their new model, single-engine craft crashed and burned on the same runway.

FORMER MADERAN DIES FIGHTING FOREST FIRE — Alessendro Joseph Biancalana, 58, a native of Madera, died Wednesday from injuries sustained while fighting a forest fire in Angeles National Forest. Mr. Biancalana was a member of the U.S. Forest Service for 19 years. He had recently been serving in a supervisoral capacity. He was a member of the Madera Italian Benevolent Society. Survivors are his widow, Bernice and son, Mark; one daughter, Mrs. Sandra Baggett of Arcadia; a granddaughter, Denis Baggett of Arcadia, his mother, Mrs. Angelina Biancalana and two brothers, Dr. S.J. Biancalana and Dr. Ben Biancalana.

43 ABSENTEE BALLOTS REQUESTED FOR RECALL VOTE — Forty-three absentee ballots have been requested thus far for the District 1 recall election, the County Clerk’s Office reported today. Deadline for the absentee ballot applications, which must be returned by 5 p.m. July 1, is Tuesday. The election is slated for July 2 at regular polling places in District 1. Supervisor Jack Schmitz the subject of the recall effort, issued the following statement: “If a person is dishonest, lazy, or incompetent, then he should be recalled. These people who refuse to be identified have chosen to attack me personally. I have been completely honest in my job. It is extremely important for you to vote on July 2.”

END OF AN ERA: REPRIEVE FAILS TO COME FOR THE FALLS — Old timers, the curious, and a few bidders gathered Saturday morning to witness the demise of The Falls, last of the early day public buildings in the Bass Lake area. For many years it was the gathering place for mountain people. This is the last authentic landmark for the lake; the original buildings at the Pines were destroyed by fire in 1962. As was feared by many, a time extension on the lease was not granted. The Falls and contents, plus six cabins and the old Claude Williams home were auctioned off by Bob Jett for approximately $1,000. By terms of the lease, buildings should be moved or torn down by July 1. 100 Years Ago

Week of June 17, 1918

ONLY ONE LEFT IN THE COUNTY JAIL — Only one prisoner remains in the Madera County Jail, and he will be here for the next year. Yesterday the bars were thrown down to C.P. Ochoa, the Mexican who has been serving a ninety-day sentence on a pettit larceny charge. This leaves only Frank M. Wickizer to grace the local bastile. He only began serving his one-year sentence last Saturday for the violation of his parole. This morning he was out with a lawn mower and a new pair of overalls making good. Wickizer is an attorney and a newspaperman of no little ability, and the story of his present downfall is only one of the many incidents of misfortune caused by booze.

MANY INDIANS MARRIED SUNDAY — Anxious to live according to the laws, the Indians of Madera County are adopting the customs of the American people and discarding the old habits and customs that have been prevalent with them for many centuries.

One of the best evidences of this desire to change was the wedding ceremony which took place at the Hawkins school house in the hills above Coarse Gold Sunday when nine Indian couples were joined in the holy bonds of matrimony according to the Christian faith.

For several weeks, a band of Baptists missionaries and church followers have been working among the Indians of this county. At the head of the movement has been J.G. Brendel, assisted by Harriett Gilchrist, the Indian agent who has done so much for the Indians of this county in getting them to live according to the laws of the United States.

Too much cannot be said of Mrs. Gilchrist. She is one of the most successful Indian agents in the state and for a woman, her work has been remarkable. She has been what might be termed an American mother to the members of the tribe. She has been their advisor, and they have the greatest respect and reverence for her.

Of the nine couples married Sunday, the majority has been living together for many years, but in the old Indian custom of marriage. While many of the contracting parties are able to write their own names, most have no idea as to their exact age. Some did not even know their name outside of the given name by which they had been addressed all their lives.

For the celebration of the big wedding, the members of the tribe from all over the reservation gathered throughout the latter part of the week and camped at the Hawkins schoolhouse on the J.W. Fhy land, a few miles above Coarse Gold. It is estimated that there were 200 Indians camped there by Saturday evening.

Saturday afternoon, County Clerk W.R. Curtin went to the hills armed with the license book and issued licenses to the nine couples. The wedding took place at noon Sunday following which a class of about 20 were baptized into the Baptist faith. Coarse Gold Creek had been dammed up for the occasion, and the immersion was witnessed by over a hundred Americans who gathered there during the afternoon for that purpose.

The newly married Indian couples are as follows: Charlie Johnson, 60, and Mary Rich, 50; Captain George, 60, and Indian Mollie, 50; Frank Banjo, 45 and Indian Mollie (2), 50; Andrew Neal, 30, and Nellie Poullon, 35; Tommie Roane, 24, and Susie Hammond, 35; Frank Paloma, 36, and Georgian Neal, 28; John Westfall, 42 and Josie Roane, 50; Willie Graham, 32, and Nellie Goodeye, 23; Mike Wyatt, 30, and Nancy Johnson, 30.

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