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History in the Week of July 29

Madera County Historical Society Nello and Eugenia Barsotti are shown here on their wedding day in 1912. Nello went on to establish the Madera Bakery, which was attached to the Barsotti Hotel on F Street. One hundred years ago, the hotel burned to the ground as did Nello’s bakery.


50 Years Ago

Week of July 29, 1968

SOCIAL SECURITY PAYMENTS FOR MORRIS CHILDREN — The 10 orphaned Morris children can expect to receive nearly the same monthly income as the family had before their parents’ deaths. The Social Security Administration has released a $435 per month figure, to which the county welfare department expects to add about $25 monthly. The Social Security payment, which County Welfare Director Gerald Mabey commented today is one of the largest he’s seen, is based upon contributions made by both the parents. The children are to be eligible for Social Security grants until age 22, so long as they remain in school.

MORRIS KIDS REMAIN AT HOME — The 10 orphaned Morris children are living in their rented home under the care of their grandparents. On the surface, the household resembles that of any other large family, with flurries of meal preparation and dishwashing, laundry washing, drying and sorting, and a squabble occasionally over a plaything. The family follows routines of bedtimes and daily prayer reminders. The eight oldest children rotate the dishwashing. An assembly line forms for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at noon and each child collects his own clothes fresh from the drying line. Their grandmother has taken over the major cooking and washing duties, but the children are self-sufficient to the point of being able to prepare their own dinners.

WHERE IS CALIFORNIA’S CENTER? — Amidst much hoopla, the cracking of champagne bottles and the flashing of photographers’ cameras, a historic dedication took place last May. Remember what it was? Don’t feel badly if you cannot recollect. Apparently, our esteemed county officials can’t remember much about it either. Regardless of how faulty memories can be, it takes a fair amount of nonchalance to ignore a stone that weighs over four tons. The stone, from the Raymond Quarry, was unveiled on an isolated grassy plain off Fourth Street in back of the County Government Center. A plaque is mounted on it proclaiming Madera County as the geographical center of California. Now that the shouting has died, the historic stone is all but forgotten. Conjecture has it that the huge marker was left where it was dedicated so that the ‘‘mountain people” could come down and steal it.

MADERA YOUTH ACCIDENTALLY KILLED BY SHOT — A Madera youth was killed Sunday afternoon when a .22 caliber rifle was accidentally discharged in his home. Craig Pickett, 14, was pronounced dead on arrival at Madera General Hospital. Police report the youth was killed when he was struck in the head by a .22 caliber bullet from the rifle, which discharged when Dennis Cox, 15 moved the gun, which had been lying, on a couch. The rifle, police report, had been put on the couch with a loaded clip after it was cleaned by Cox. Pickett, Cox and another youth, 16, had been cleaning their guns to go shooting when the accident occurred. A June graduate of Thomas Jefferson Junior High School, young Pickett would have been a freshman in September.

WARNER NAMED FOOTBALL COACH — Bob Warner, who compiled an 85-10-6 record in 11 years of coaching at Madera High School and who is now vice principal of the school, was named varsity football coach for MHS Tuesday night. The board of education of the Madera Unified School District asked Warner to take on coaching duties on a one-year interim, emergency basis. The job opened when John Crane, who had been appointed head coach earlier this year, took a college coaching job in Washington. The board made a record of the fact that Crane, who coached Chowchilla to a conference championship last year, had submitted a letter, which stated he would not honor his contract. 100 Years Ago

Week of July 29, 1918

BOY, GIRL DIE TOGETHER IN FLAMING APARTMENT HOUSE — Gladys Redden, 16, and Whitman Curtis, 20, were found dead with bullet wounds in their hearts in a burning apartment house near the State Normal School at 11 o’clock this morning. The dying girl held the revolver in her hand. The police believe It is a case of double suicide, and that the boy and girl had planned a death pact, even to burning the house over them to conceal the evidence of crime. There was some evidence of a struggle, and the girl, who was ill, was only partly dressed. The two were lying across the bed in one of the apartments. Letters found in the pocket of the boy showed that the two had been on very friendly terms, but gave no hint of the motive of the crime.

CITY TRUSTEE HURT IN DRIVE TO FIRE — J. R. Richardson, one of our best known townsmen and a City Trustee, was quite seriously injured this morning while he was being driven to a fire which occurred in his part of the city about 9 o’clock. His nose was broken and his spine and neck were badly wrenched. Mr. Richardson was downtown at the time the fire alarm sounded and noticing a heavy smoke arising, Mr. Richardson climbed into an automobile with several others and started for the scene. As he was passing his home at the corner of Clinton and Vineyard Avenue, Mr. Richardson waved at his family. At the same time the machine struck a deep rut in the street. Mr. Richardson was not looking for the bump and was thrown heavily against the top. The driver of the machine turned around immediately, and the injured man was brought back to town.

FRANK GLAS, SR. PASSED AWAY AT 83 YEARS — Frank Glas, Sr. one of the old and highly respected citizens of this county, a man of exceptional vitality for one of his years, and one whose past history reads like a narrative, died at the home of his son, Herman Glas, this morning. Mr. Glas, a native of Germany, came to America during the Civil War. Upon his arrival at New Orleans he was taken prisoner by the Confederates and has held in an old cotton mill for some time. The appearance of Ben Butler in the harbor with a fleet of ships sent his guards scurrying away, and Mr. Glas made his escape. He made his way to San Francisco and then to what was then Fresno County where he planted a vineyard in Madera.

ARRESTED FOB TAKING FRUIT — When Everett Phillips and Joe Pistoresi took a few peaches from a rail car on the Santa Fe near Storey last night, there was no intention on their part to commit a crime. They only wanted a few peaches to eat and did what many others have done, helped themselves to a few as the train was passing through. They did not know, however, that they were being observed by special Santa Fe Officer D. J. Craig, and a charge of pettit larceny was filed in the court of Justice G. W. Raburn this morning. Deputy Sheriff A. W. Clark brought the boys before the judge. Both admitted that they took a little fruit to eat but thought nothing of it. They were charged, however, with taking 12 pounds, all of the value of 60 cents.

ITALIAN HOTEL BURNS TO GROUND — The Barsotti Hotel, one of the largest Italian stopping places in this city and located at 218 North F street, was totally destroyed by fire about 3 o’clock this morning, entailing a heavy loss for Nello Barsotti, the proprietor of the Madera Bakery, located just in the rear of the hotel. The hotel was owned by Jos. Bernardi and S. A. Oliver. The hotel was a one-story frame structure, which covered about half a block of ground. It was the principal stopping place for the Italians and contained 25 rooms and some forty beds. Twenty-five people were staying at the place at the time of the fire and while all managed to escape, no one was able to save anything and considered themselves lucky to get out with a few pieces of clothing. Mr. Bernardi was able to escape with only his shoes and a pair of pantaloons.

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