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Dr. Ransom helped keep Arcola alive

For The Madera Tribune

Dr. Dow Ransom.


With these words, one of Madera’s most highly respected physicians paid homage to the first school he attended upon arriving here as a 12 year old lad in 1892, and in doing so, he helped keep an old man’s dream alive.

The name of Arcola was first brought to the San Joaquin Valley in 1868 because a pioneer named Samuel Strudwick loved the South. He had been born at Arcola — his family plantation in Alabama. His antebellum existence could have provided the background for “Gone with the Wind,” with its mint juleps, Spanish moss, and antebellum mansion. Then came the Civil War and Strudwick’s world turned upside down. He decided to leave his ancestral home for Fresno County. At the same time, however, he determined that Arcola would never be forgotten.

Studwick joined an emigrant party of about 70 souls in November of 1868. These refugees from Reconstruction banded together in a colony and began to till the soil on homesteads lying along Cottonwood Creek, between the Fresno and San Joaquin rivers. At Strudwick’s urging, they called their new home Arcola, after his old homeplace, although early mapmakers designated it the Alabama Settlement. Newspapers of the day used both names when referring to the area.


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