Ask Me: Madera County gold mining town was named for pioneer
Question: What is the history of the town of Hildreth in Madera County?
– Neil Simpson, Fresno
Answer: Hildreth, about 35 miles east of Madera, took its name from a pioneer family that came to California by wagon train in the 1850s.
According to “Madera” by Charles W. Clough, Jesse Hildreth established one of the county’s largest early sheep herds in 1853.
In 1860, Emphrey Hildreth bought the Wideawake Ranch on the Millerton-Stockton road where it crossed a creek later named for the family.
The foothill mining town of Hildreth began in the late 1870s when Tom Hildreth opened a store to serve area gold miners, according to Clough.
Hildreth grew quickly and soon had two hotels, three general stores, about nine saloons, a millinery shop, a barber shop and other small businesses. A post office operated at Hildreth from 1886 to 1896.
Children from Hildreth attended the Hanover School, named for one of the area’s mines, about a half-mile northeast of town.
By the 1880s, there were nine gold mines operating around the town, including the Hildreth mine, which produced about $100,000 in gold before it closed in the 1890s.
Nearly 5,000 people lived in Hildreth at its peak, but the town eventually was abandoned after the mine shut down.
The school building was later moved and can be seen from Road 210, also called Hildreth Road, near O’Neals.
Q: How did Temperance Avenue get its name?
– Bob and Carol Turner, Clovis
A: Temperance Avenue took its name from the Temperance Colony started by Moses Church, who developed Fresno County’s canal system in the 1800s.
Church formed the colony in what is now the Sunnyside area of Fresno in 1877. He divided it into 32 parcels and put in a series of irrigation canals.
A devout Seventh-day Adventist who disapproved of drinking and smoking, Church named the colony “Temperance” because he would sell the 20-acre parcels only to buyers who pledged not to smoke or to make or sell intoxicating spirits. Despite the restrictions, Church sold all the parcels by the next year.
More on the Kearney peacocks
After the answer to a question about peacocks at Kearney Park ran on Dec. 12, Mimi English-Koch of Vashon Island, Wash., emailed more information about peacocks still found in the area.
“The birds are from a flock I started raising in the early 1980s when I lived on Cornelia Avenue between Church and Jensen,” she wrote. “I started with two small chicks and by 1998 I had about 75 peacocks on my property, where they roamed freely.”
English-Koch said she got the chicks from a family living south of Fresno.
Over the years, the flock has been thinned by predators, including coyotes and a pair of red-tailed hawks that prey on chicks, wrote English-Koch, who moved to Washington in 2005.
But several peacocks still roam freely on the five-acre property. “They truly are amazing birds and very intelligent. Many of them would come to me when I gave a special call,” she wrote.
By Paula Lloyd