I am sharing the program I wrote in 2002 for the celebration of the 90th year of incorporation of Clovis. The 90 families and events identified are representative of our rich heritage that embraced a strong work ethic, dedication to family, church, and school. You will note that many of the siblings of our pioneer families remain visible and active in Clovis.
The Yokuts were the first inhabitants of our valley. The Pitcachee tribe lived in the Table Mountain area. Winnutlut, born in 1830’s, died in 1917, was a daughter of their Chief. She was active in speaking for the rights of her people. Her great, great, great granddaughter Tracy resides in Clovis.
Jesse August Blasingame arrived in 1863 and eventually accumulated 12,000 acres in the Academy/Friant area. His great Grandson Knox Blasingame and his family continue the family tradition.
Knox has carved a wooden Mustang, “The Spirit of Clovis”, that will be dedicated at the Clovis Museum on February 24 to commemorate the Clovis Centennial celebration.
John Greenup Simpson was born in 1829 in Kentucky. He arrived at Big Dry Creek (Academy) in 1861 and would eventually own 7,000 acres. He donated land for the 1868 Academy Church and for the 1870 Academy school and Academy Cemetery. His great granddaughter Jodi Simpson Everett resides in Clovis.
David Cowan Sample arrived in the Big Dry Creek area in 1868. His great grandchildren: Bonner, Tom, and Jane, continue ranching.
Francis S. Estill arrived in 1869. He would marry one of the William Temple Cole’s ten daughters, Martha Jane Cole, in 1886. He sold his sheep herd in 1900 and served as Fresno County Deputy Assessor from 1904-1933. His great, great, great grandson Jesse, the son of Jim Cowan Estill, is a successful Nevada Junior Rodeo champion.
R. E. L. Cobb arrived in California in 1871 and settled in the River Bend area. R. E. L’s great grandson Dave and his son Dan are active in our community.
William Temple Cole married Jane Sweany in 1854. The Cole’s built the first brick house in Fresno County near Cole’s Slough on the King’s River. They arrived in the Academy area in 1876. Large families were the norm and the Cole’s had ten good-looking daughters that stirred the hearts of the young pioneer men. Sally Sample Sharer is the great granddaughter of Sally Cole Sample. Her family continues their ranching heritage.
The City of Clovis was named after Clovis M. Cole. His father, Stephen H. Cole homesteaded 320 acres in the Redbank district in 1872. Stephen was elected President of the Municipal Board of Fresno in 1891 and is considered the first mayor of Fresno.
Sixteen-year-old Clovis Cole, 1858-1939, became a teamster hauling lumber from the mountains on the “early road” that we now know as Tollhouse Road. He recognized the demand for seed and feed grain and began dry farming. He eventually farmed 50,000 acres of grain and became known as “The Wheat King of the United States”.
In 1880, he bought 480 acres, $4.00 per acre that would eventually become the City of Clovis. He and his uncle Jacob Cole brought the first combined header and thresher to Fresno County.
In 1891, Marcus Pollasky, a twenty-nine-year-old handsome, refined gentleman from the east, was elected President of the San Joaquin Valley Railroad. The railroad was to extend from Fresno to Clovis and terminate at Hamptonville (Friant). Clovis Cole sold a square acre of land, $4,000 gold coin, to Pollasky. The depot was placed on that property and was named Clovis Depot. The railroad experienced financial problems and was acquired by Southern Pacific Railroad in 1893.
The great grand niece of Marcus Pollasky, 90 years old Mrs. Elaine Rogan, attended our 90th City incorporation celebration. Mrs. Rogan obtained her PHD at age 59. She authored numerous articles that informed her audience on the essence of life.
1891 was also the year that Robert E. L. Good established our first grocery store on Fulton Street (Clovis Ave). DiCicco’s is now located at that location. Additional businesses arrived: O.K. Saloon and one other saloon, livery stable (also served as our post office), a barbershop, Smith Hotel, drug store, two story Clovis Hotel, Chinese laundry, a weekly newspaper, blacksmith, McCord’s Hall was used for Fraternal organizations and dances. The town jail, replete with one cot and one slop bucket, was located near the 1913 Fifth Street water tower that is still in service.
We will continue our review of our 90th incorporation celebration in the next issue. We have a rich heritage.