First Person History

A different way to look at our Shared Heritage.

Why The Madera Method

The Madera Method: Rich and Fertile Ground for Doing History

Student Engagement

Learning by doing gives students ownership of the projects and fosters initiative and enthusiasm for learning


Each student contributes to a larger team-based project, nurtures relationships, and delivers pride and curiosity

tangible results

The final project is a published collaborative opus that shows off a year's worth of sleuthing and writing

The Minturn Chronicles

The Minturn Project was conducted in the 1984-85 school year by students in Bill Coate's sixth grade class at Howard School.

Abby West Minturn lived most of her life with a dreamer. Born in Bristol, Rhode Island, in 1820, at the age of 23, she married Jonas Minturn. She followed her husband up and down the east coast, as he attempted to make his mark in his family's shipping business. In time Jonas ceased his wandering and settled down on a farm near Bristol. It appeared that Abby would enjoy her twilight years in her beautiful two story home on Narragansett Bay. Then came the bombshell.

The Original Madera Method Project.

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The saga of Caney Creek

The Hardeman Project was conducted in the 1985-86 school year. by students in Bill Coate's 6th grade class at James Monroe School and JoAnn Bell's 7th grade class at Bay City Junior High School (Bay City, Texas)

Sam and Sally Hardeman were distant cousins. Their parents came to Texas from Tennessee in 1836, when the two were just toddlers. By the time that they were grown, they had fallen in love and in 1849, they were married.

When Texas seceded, Sam joined the Confederacy.

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The Gold Rush Diary of William P. Huff

The William P. Huff Project “The Gold Rush Diary of William P. Huff” 1986-87

"The Gold Rush Diary of William P. Huff" was researched in the 1986-87 school year by students from the following schools: Berenda Elementary, Bill Coate's 8th grade history class (Madera, California); Greenfield Country Day School, John Hosmer's sophomore history class (Tucson, Arizona); O. Henry Junior High School, Pat Henley's 8th grade history class (Austin, Texas); and Socorro High School, Blanche Corwin's senior history class (El Paso, Texas).

William P. Huff was born in Mississippi in 1811.



The Mordecai Project 1987-88 “Refuge”

The Mordecai project was conducted in the 1987-88 school year. Students from the following schools worked on the project: James Monroe Elementary, Bill Coate's 6th grade class (Madera, California); Leland High School, Daryl Lewis' history classes (Leland, Mississippi); Martin Middle School, Craig Matthew's Tar Heel Junior Historians (Raleigh, North Carolina); Millview School, Oscar Dragon's sixth grade class and Carol Lawrence's sixth grade class (Madera, California); Tuckahoe Elementary, Cathy Boehling's 6th grade class (Richmond, Virginia).

By the time that he was old enough for his university education, his home state seceded from the Union.

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Shepherd's Home

The Daulton Project 1988-89 “Shepherd’s Home”

The Daulton Project was conducted in the 1988-89 school year. Students from the following schools worked on the project: Central Elementary School, Betty Ham’s 6th grade class (Hannibal Missouri); James Monroe Elementary School, Bill Coate's 6th grade class (Madera, California); Millview Elementary School, Oscar Dragon's 6th grade class and Carol Lawrence's 6th grade class (Madera, California).

In 1853, Henry Clay Daulton hit the California trail again.

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The California Hundred Project

The California Hundred Project 1988-1989

"The California Hundred" project was conducted in the 1988-89 school year. The following schools participated: Berenda School, Raul Lozano's 8th grade class (Madera, California); Howard School, Ruth Fishkin's 8th grade class (Madera, California); LaVina School, Lucretia McGuggin's 6th grade class (Madera, California); Somerset Middle School, Ken Schmidt's 8th grade history class (Modesto, California); and Thomas Jefferson Junior High School, Robin Dompeling's 8th grade history class (Madera, California).

When the American Civil War broke out in 1861, both sides mobilized their forces and put out a call for volunteers.

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photo of Bill Coate smiling with his top hat


I Am Bill Coate.

William Coate, longtime Madera Tribune history columnist, city historian, and coordinator of the innovative Madera Method publishing program, presents this fantastic collection of early Madera views that are sure to surprise Maderans everywhere. Drawing upon personal collections and those of the Madera County Historical Society, Coate paints a complex picture of where the city has been and where it’s heading.

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