Cleaning up in Madera in the 1940s

Preciado’s pioneer barbershop

Pictured in 1940, this barbershop was located on the north side of Yosemite Avenue, near the site of Y.V. Preciado’s pioneer barbershop. Unlike this shop, one could get a haircut, shave, and bath at Preciado’s. Madera’s premier barber closed his shop after the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. (Madera Images; Bill Coate)

The Crappa brothers’ corner store

Crappa Brothers American and Italian grocery

Located on the corner of Gateway and Fourth Street was the Crappa Brothers American and Italian grocery. The Italian influence in Madera was and remains very significant. After coming to America on a shoestring, they often found work on the cattle ranches of Miller and Lux or in the Sugar Pine Lumber Mill. Then with […]

The Early Days of Madera’s Webster School

1927 Webster School

In 1927, the Webster School student body numbered 20, including three children of the teacher, Mrs. Mary Alice Cunningham Pitman. Shown here with their mother and their classmates are Robert Pitman (first row, far left), Rinard Pitman (second row, second from the left), and Willard Pitman (third row, fourth from the left). Webster School still […]

Madera’s Oil Dud

Madera's oil dud

Maderans have always been open to economic innovation, no matter how risky. Gold, silver, and copper mining have lured fortune hunters to the hills and streams of Madera County. In the 1930s, it was black gold in the flat lands that got some folks excited. Two or three wells were drilled in the southern part […]

Airmail in Madera

Airmail in Madera

Airmail to Madera was not exactly a new thing. In 1912, the city was the recipient of the nation’s first airmail delivery when Glen Martin zoomed over the city and dropped a bundle of newspapers from the sky onto Yosemite Avenue. Airmail never left Madera, however, until Postmaster Murphy decided to change that in 1938. […]

Madera’s gateway to Yosemite

Gateway to Yosemite

During the 1930s, Maderans advertised that the best way to Yosemite National Park was still through their town. For several years, Madera had a monopoly on transportation to the Park. The road from Madera to Yosemite was built in 1877, and stages used that route until the Southern Pacific laid tracks from Berenda to Raymond […]

Dust Bowl Refugees in Madera

Oklahoma dustbowl refugees

In the 1930s, Madera County became home to large groups of refugees from the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma and Arkansas. As a result, most schools had to develop special “migrant education” facilities for the children of the down-and-out transients. Shown here is the migrant education “bus” for La Vina School. These children were on their […]

Madera’s first murder of a police officer

Traffic officers Ernest McCluskey, Andy Clark and Clarence Pickett (left to right).

On November 10, 1923, Clarence Pickett (far right) became Madera’s first police officer to die in the line of duty. Spotting a Dodge coupe with four men in it traveling north toward Berenda, Pickett pulled the car to the side, He had recognized it as a coupe that had been reported stolen. The lawman got […]

The Prohibition hits Madera

The Prohibition hits Madera

John Barnett had just been elected Sheriff of Madera County when Prohibition became the law of the land, although it didn’t mean that all Maderans followed the law. Moonshine ran freely, especially in the mountain areas, and Barnett did his best to stamp out the illicit liquor traffic. He, nevertheless, had his hands full. After […]

Bill James Sr.’s Legacy in Madera

1920 inside the men’s department of Tighe and Breyfogle’s

Pictured in 1920 inside the men’s department of Tighe and Breyfogle’s, Bill James Sr. can be seen in the center at the back of the store. Many of Madera’s early citizens learned the clerking business under Bill’s tutelage. Bill Griffin was his first employee when Tighe set out on his own in 1893. Young Griffin […]

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