“Let’s Talk Clovis” – First City of Clovis Marshall, 1912-1914, Jacob Calvin Horschman

By Peg Bos | Clovis Museum

Portions of this article are based on a letter written by Luella and Donald Horschman sharing the life of their father Jacob. The date of the letter was not identified.

Jacob Calvin Horschman was born on March 12, 1876 in Centralia, Missouri. When Jacob was born, the family name was spelled with two “n’s” as in Horschmann. Later in life Jacob, would drop one “n” after complaining that his last name was already long enough.

A severe drought threatened the family crops and Jacob left Missouri in 1902. It is believed that he and his brothers traveled from Missouri to Colorado by bicycle. He began working in the mines but decided to leave Colorado when the 1902 anthracite coal strike occurred. The labor strike at the mines had become violent and was receiving national attention. Jacob wanted no part of that unrest.

He traveled to California and settled in the Visalia area. His first job was “breaking horses” near the St. John’s River, a distributary of the Kaweah River, for a Mr. Burroughs. His friends would call him “Jake” and his future wife “Cal.”

Jacob would marry Zora Demaree on December 20, 1905. Her father was one of the first mail carriers in the Visalia area. Visalia was founded in the 1850’s. The couple would raise five children: Luella, Donald, Walter, Betty and Martha.

The family moved to Fresno, where Jacob worked at a brick yard that was located on Belmont Avenue. He also worked for Mr. Henry Markarian on a fig ranch that is now in the Fig Garden Village area. The family moved to Clovis and he worked at the “saw mill,” i.e. the 1893 Fresno Flume and Irrigation Company. The family bought a home on the northeast corner of Third and Osmun Avenues.

On April 27, 1912, Jake was appointed the first Clovis City Marshall. He was officially sworn into office by the Board of Trustees on May 6, 1912. Prior to the 1912 incorporation of Clovis, Jefferson area rancher Charles Clifford served as constable from 1896 to 1924. The two men would work in concert to maintain law and order.

The Eighth City Ordinance made it unlawful to manufacture, sell, and barter, etc. any alcoholic or intoxicating liquor in Clovis. The bars were closed but prohibition did not apply to the privacy of homes. National prohibition, 18th constitutional amendment in January, 1919, was repealed in 1933 by the 21st Amendment. It is the only time any constitutional amendment cancelled a previous amendment.

Gambling was prohibited by our ninth ordinance. Both the eighth and ninth city ordinances gave Marshall Horschman and Constable Clifford a significant law enforcement challenge.

The Board of Trustees held their first meeting at Realtor Frank Drury’s office at the northeast corner of Fourth and Pollasky Avenues, and later at the two-story John Freitas building on the southwest corner of Fifth and Fulton (Clovis). The 500 Club is now located there.

Jacob’s daughter Luella recalled that her father’s mode of transportation as Marshall was his personal bicycle. He identified his major problems as “dogs” and “hooligans” (a ruffian and hoodlum). A member of the Clovis Board of Trustees, Mr. Shortridge, jokingly tied a “stuffed” dog to his bicycle. The good natured Jacob patrolled with the dog for a period of time.

He would rent a livery wagon for $2 in order to transport a prisoner to the County Jail in Fresno. Jacob would resign his position on April 25, 1914.

After his resignation, Jacob traded their Clovis home to Mr. Bissell as down payment on a 40 acre parcel located in the country at the corner of Behymer and Fowler Avenues. In 1939, they built a new home on that property, 5619 East Behymer. Jake would die at age 75 on December 21, 1951.

Our first law men, Constable Clifford and Marshall Horschman left us a rich heritage.