Students hunt for soldiers in graveyard

students in the cemetery

Over 100 8th graders are on a mission to tell the story of the War Between the States, but they want to do it through the eyes of some of the soldiers who fought in those battles. That’s why they were in Arbor Vitae Cemetery on August 23. They were visiting the graves of some […]

8th graders digging into sheriffs’ pasts

Madera Unified School district students hold posters of past Madera County Sheriffs during a presentation for “Outlaws and Lawmen: Crimes of the Century and the Madera County Sheriffs who Solved Them.”

New Madera Method project launched More than 150 8th graders joined Sheriff Jay Varney Monday at the grave of Madera County’s first sheriff, William H. Thurman, to take the wraps off a special history project they have been working on. The students and their teachers from Dixieland, Eastin-Arcola, Howard, and La Vina Schools gave the […]

Students find a historic gold mine in Madera

Madera South High graduates and current UC Irvine students Silvia Navarro Hernandez, left, and Jennifer Martinez are doing research for a water story at Madera South High during their spring break.

Two Madera South High School alumna came back home Wednesday to take advantage of some of the resources of the new Madera Method Archive and Special Collections being built by MUSD in the library of their alma mater. Jennifer Martinez and Silvia Navarro Hernandez, who graduated from MSHS in 2015, are now seniors at UC […]

Mike Purl: A man for all seasons

Mike Purl on a Madera Method wagon

I have been thinking about Mike Purl a lot over the past few months. In fact, from the time I first learned about the struggle he was facing, I thought about him almost every day. I don’t remember when I first met him, but I think it was when he joined the Madera Method Wagon […]

Sheriff challenged from the inside

Sheriff W.O. Justice.

In 1927, the people of Madera County elected Welton Rhodes as their sheriff. In the years that followed, that public confidence proved to be well-placed. Rhodes provided law and order without favoritism for two terms. During that time, he appointed W.O. Justice as one of his deputies, an act that he was later to regret. […]

Madera boy hit it big in Hollywood

Walter “Spec” O’Donnell

The atmosphere in Madera County’s Superior Court was tense on Jan. 19, 1924. Several very important people had gathered there on that day to witness the outcome of a fight that was to settle the fate of a young movie star from Madera. Judge Stanley Murray was set to decide who would have custody of […]

Old Timers Day Parade began in 1931

The Peerless Saloon is shown here celebrating Madera’s first Old Timers Day in 1931

It was early in the year 1931 when someone conceived of an idea to initiate something called “Old Timers Day” in Madera County. The idea percolated for a while and then took hold. A committee was formed, and by summer, preparations for an extravaganza were well underway. What resulted was not only an outpouring of […]

Madera remembered Athletic Hall

Yosemite Avenue in 1928

In July 1966, somebody decided to change the appearance of downtown Madera by taking the top off of the Richard Mah building in the 200 block on the south side of Yosemite Avenue. The demolition project was the talk of the town and made the front page of The Madera Tribune. The landmark building had […]

The year the tower came tumbling down

Madera's jailhouse tower

In 1898, Madera did away with its old, wooden jail and replaced it with a brick and granite building. For years this stately structure, with its imposing tower, stood on 6th Street in all of its aesthetic glory. Then in 1937, a granite addition was added to the rear of the jail, and that’s how […]

William tried everything to stay out of jail

Madera Jail in 1901

It was a quiet morning when the scream shattered the calm in Madera. People at first thought that the yell had come from the courthouse construction that was going on in June 1901. When a search of the half finished building turned up nothing, everyone rushed to the jail, which had only one occupant, William […]

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