The History of Henry Clay Daulton


               Researched, complied & edited by Rodney G. Dalton from the World Wide Web.


Henry Clay Daulton is a well-known figure from Madera County California's past. He was one of its organizers in 1893, as well as the chairman of its first Board of Supervisors. He is perhaps without peer in terms of his influence upon this part of California.


Henry Clay Daulton


The Henry Clay Daulton ranch in Fresno, California


A few years ago when Daulton was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame, a biographical sketch was prepared in which his exploits on the California Trail were recounted. It was remembered that he came west from Missouri in 1853 with the Hildreth party, facing threats from Indians, cholera, and waterless deserts, until he reached San Gabriel Mission and ultimately settled in what is now Madera County.


What was not included in the official biography was the fact that Daulton had already been to California in 1849, and it was this gold rush experience that gave him the dream that was to materialize into the Daulton Ranch of today.


Henry Clay the first was born in 1829 in Maysville, Kentucky. His father, James, was experiencing economic difficulty, so when the baby was just a few months old the entire family - parents and seven children - boarded a flat boat and began the tedious trip to the mouth of the Ohio River. There they switched to a steamer and traveled up the Mississippi River to the frontier town of Hannibal, Missouri.


In time, James Daulton purchased a 169-acre farm near Hannibal. The family pitched in, and it looked as if success was just around the corner. Three more boys were born, and the two girls both married well. Then, in 1842, when young Henry was just 13 years old, his oldest brother, Moses, died. Two years later, his sister, Louisa Mariah, was taken in death, and in two more years the family buried his mother, Naomi Wakeman Daulton. This two-year cycle of death continued when, in 1848, his father James Daulton passed away. The family was in crisis again.


The Daulton farm was sold, as were the household belongings. When arrangements were made for the care of the three youngest boys, who ranged in age from eight to 16, Henry Clay Daulton began to look west. He would not be tied to Hannibal.


Henry wasn't like his brother, John, who could be content with a small farming operation. He was different from his brother, William, who was interested in the quarrying of limestone and would someday become an accomplished plasterer. It wasn't enough for him to take up the trade of printing, as his brother Frank eventually did with his childhood chum, Samuel Clemens.


Sister, Sabrina Ann, having married Thomas Winter, had her destiny fixed; however, Henry wasn't looking for that kind of security. He was more akin to his brother, Wakeman. Both young men had a reckless wanderlust that would soon take them far from home.


In the same year that James Daulton died, an event of monumental significance took place in California. James W. Marshall discovered gold. The rush to the Land of Ophir was about to take place, and Henry Clay Daulton intended to be part of it.


With his brother, Wakeman, Henry set out for California, expecting to make his fortune. Their wagon train took them over land through South Pass to the Humbolt Sink and then up the Truckee River to the mines near Hangtown (Placerville).


There they found nothing but bitter disappointment. Everyone was not getting rich in California. The reports of gold nuggets lying on the ground were found to be exaggerated. The placer mining was difficult and unrewarding, and it was plain to the most casual observer that in a short time the huge mining companies would replace the colorful miners that dug in the gravel and stormed the saloons. Within two years after their arrival, Henry Clay and Wakeman Daulton were ready to return home.


The sojourn in California, however, was not a complete economic waste of time. Henry could not help but notice that there were those who were benefiting from the gold rush: the storeowners, the saloonkeepers, and the hotel proprietors. As he and Wakeman boarded the "Republican" and sailed out of the Golden Gate for the Isthmus of Panama, an idea was churning; why not mine the miners? Why not return to Missouri, find some means to purchase livestock, and transport them to California? It was a perfect plan, and all that was needed was determination and a little luck.


The rest is history, as they say. Daulton hooked up with the Hildreths, completed his second journey west, and established the first sheep and cattle ranch in what is now Madera County. It is a pity that after all that, and while at the zenith of his career, in 1893, he suffered a tragic, untimely, and mysterious death.



More about Henry Clay Daulton:

One of the earliest sheepmen of Fresno County was born in Marysville, Kentucky, on April 7, 1829. He was the eight of ten children. His grandfather was one of the first to volunteer to fight in the Revolutionary War and his father served in the war of 1812. Patriotism ran strong in his veins.


His parents died when he was only fourteen years old. He was forced to find his own way in the world. On his twenty-first birthday, he and his brother were making their way across the plains with a team of oxen bound for California. The Gold Rush was well underway and on their arrival, the brothers tried their luck at mining in Placerville. After two years in the gold fields, he decided that it would be more profitable to supply food for the rapidly expanding population of the new state rather than mining of gold. He returned to the east, brought sheep and cattle and made his way back to California driving his stock before him. Coming with him was another sheep man, Jesse Hilfreth. The party arrived in Los Angeles in November 1852. They journeyed north. Hildreth established a ranch near what is known a Bates Station. The other gentleman located his ranch halfway between Raymond and Madera. In 1854, he married HildrethŐs daughter, Mary Jane.


It was in this manner that Henry Clay Daulton arrived in Fresno County. He was not only one of the first sheep man, but also successfully worked to establish Madera County Board of Supervisors-a position he held until his death on October 28, 1893.


The history of the great Central Valley would not be complete without remembering the contributions of one of her most honored pioneers - Henry Clay Dalton - by and standard a true legend of our valley.


HENRY CLAY DAULTON. Especial interest attaches to the lives of men who, during the adventurous days following the discovery of gold in California, braved the dangers of deserts and mountains and in the midst of perils known and unknown made their difficult way toward the Pacific coast. Such a man was Henry Clay Daulton, the son of a soldier in the war of 1812, and the grandson of a Revolutionary soldier, from whom he inherited a steadfast courage and fearlessness of character. The eighth among ten children, he was born at Marysville, Ky., April 7, 1827, and in a childhood accompanied the family to the vicinity of Hannibal, Mo., where he grew to manhood. By the death of his parents when he was fourteen he was thrown upon his own resources for a livelihood at an age when most boys are unhampered by cares and responsibilities. Working in the employ of farmers he continued in the home neighborhood until after news had reached him concerning gold in the far west. Immediately he resolved to seek his fortune in the mines. April 7, 1850, with a brother, he started across the plains with ox-teams, arriving August 11, in what is now Placerville. For two years he prospected in northern mines, but deciding after a time he could reap larger profits from a stock business he returned east via Panama to purchase sheep and cattle for a stock ranch. While en route for home the ship, Republican, was wrecked in a storm and taken into port of Acapulco for repairs, thus delaying him for weeks. After a tedious delay he arrived at home and at once set about purchasing sheep and cattle. In 1853 he started across the plains with his stock, being accompanied by Thomas Hildreth, who later founded the town of Hildreth. The party arrived in Los Angeles early in November 1853, and for a few years he remained in the San Gabriel valley, but later settled on a farm twelve miles northeast of Madera, where he purchased a large tract of government land.


At the San Gabriel mission, Los Angeles County, in 1854, was solemnized the marriage Of Henry C. Daulton and Mary Jane Hildreth, a daughter of Jesse, and sister of Thomas Hildreth, and who had accompanied the party across the plains. She is still residing at the old homestead in Madera County. Of her ten children five are living namely: Mrs. Ida Saxe, of Madera; John F., of Madera; Jonathan who is engaged in the sheep business in Madera County; Mrs. L. Mann of Oakland; and James Williams, living at Imperial, San Diego County. In 1854 Mr. Daulton was elected justice of the peace of Los Angeles and held the position until his removal from the County. In 1857 he settled on what is known as the Santa Rita Ranch in Fresno County, and later purchased the present homestead, which he call ShepherdŐs Home. In 1860 he was elected to the office of supervisor of Fresno County, and held the position until 1875, when he declined re-election. However, three years later he was persuaded to accept the position again and served for one more term. At one time the American Party nominated him for the senate and he made an excellent race, although the party was numerically weak. When the subject of organizing Madera County was brought up he became a champion of the movement, and acted as chairman of the commissioners appointed to conduct the election which decided the proposed county division. At that election, May 29, 1893, he was elected a supervisor, and when the county was organized he was made chairman of the board, which position he was filling at the time of his death. Fraternally he was connected with the Lodge and Encampment of Odd Fellows and the Blue Lodge and Chapter of Masonry.


There are few men whose influence has been felt throughout Madera County in a greater degree that that of Henry C. Daulton, and hi sudden and accidental death was widely mourned. October 28, 1893 when he was driving home from town, his horse ran away, and he was thrown from the cart, his foot catching in the shaft in such a manner that he was dragged a considerable distance. When found he was dead. His untimely death cast a gloom over the community which he had so long honored by his citizenship and whose growth had been so continuously fostered by his enterprise and progressive spirit.


Guinn, J. M., History of the State of California and Biographical Record of the San Joaquin Valley, California, (Chicago: Chapman Publishing, 1905), page 120.


JOHN F. DAULTON. In what is now the County of Madera, but was then a portion of Fresno County. J. F. Daulton was born January 24, 1862 being a son of the late Henry Clay Daulton, one of the most influential stockmen in this part of the state. The family possession ample means, he was given every advantage for obtaining an excellent education, and for a time studied in the Stockton Business College. From his father he inherited a fondness for stock and at an early age he selected stock-raising for his life work. At the age of twenty-two he started out for himself as a sheep-raiser in Madera County and from a small beginning accumulated a large flock in later years.


Upon the death of is father in 1893 J. F. Daulton took charge of the estate and has since maintained a close supervision of the ranch and the stock. To promote the interests of the family, in 1898 he incorporated the Daulton Ranch Company, of which he is president and manager. In the ranch there are seventeen thousand acres, all under fence and supplied with water by means of flowing springs. Of the entire tract four thousand acres are under cultivation, mostly in grain, while the remainder of the land is utilized as pasture for the stock. In sheep he makes a specialty of the Merino breed and at this writing has about eight thousand head on the ranch. In 1889 he moved from the ranch into Madera, where he has since made his home, but his residence in town has never interfered in any respect with the close supervision he maintains of the ranch and stock.


The Marriage of Mr. Daulton in San Jose united him with Addie M. Raynor, who was born in Connecticut and came to California with her father W. M. Raynor, who was the owner of twelve thousand acres in Merced, Mariposa and Madera Counties. The family of Mr. and Mrs. Daulton comprises four children namely: Hazel, Raynor, McErland, Henry Clay and Erma. Mrs. Daulton is a member of the Presbyterian Church and the family is attendants upon its services. From the time of his attaining his majority Mr. Daulton has voted and worked with the Republicans. Formerly he was a member of the Republican County Central Committee. As the nominee of his party, in 1898 he was elected Supervisor of the third district of Madera County for a term of four years, and during this time the Courthouse was planned and completed. His fraternal relations include membership in the Masonic Lodge No. 280, F. & A.M., of Madera; Independent Order of the Odd Fellows, in which he is past grand of the local lodge; Ancient Order of United Workmen at Madera, and the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks at Fresno.


Guinn, J. M., History of the State of California and Biographical Record of the San Joaquin Valley, California, (Chicago: Chapman Publishing, 1905), page 598.





Henry Clay Daulton, pioneer of Fresno and Madera counties, was the founder of a family that is written large in the history of this region. The first Daulton lived in the area of Fresno and of Madera counties from 1857 to his death in 1893. During that time he was a member of the Fresno county board of supervisors for fifteen years, was chairman of the commission appointed by the governor to organize Madera County and was elected a member of the first board of supervisors of Madera.


H. C. Daulton was born in 1829 in Kentucky, descendent of a family whose men fought in the wars of the Revolution and of 1812. His parents removed while he was an infant to the region of Missouri made famous by Mark Twain. When he was just 21, he crossed the plains by ox team, 1850, and mined in Eldorado County. Observing the need of better cattle in California, he returned East by way of Panama in 1852, and then drove cattle to California. He located first in the San Gabriel valley, in the southern part of the state, and there married Mary Jane Hildreth, daughter of Jesse Hildreth. In 1851, they came to Fresno County.


In the years that ensued, Mr. Daulton accumulated an area of 18,000 acres on the Fresno River above what is now the City of Madera, the noted Daulton ranch. In spite of many changes, 12,000 acres of this still remain in the hands of members of the family.


Mr. and Mrs. H. C. Daulton had ten children. Of these, John Francis Daulton was particularly active in maintaining the family traditions. He was a member of the board of supervisors, and he managed the Daulton acreage. He married Adelaide Raynor. They had four children: H. Clay Daulton, the younger, Raynor Daulton, Mrs. Hugh Downey and Mrs. Raymond Hatch. John Francis Daulton died in San Francisco in 1930.


R. M. Daulton and H. Clay Daulton now raise choice Hereford cattle on the old Daulton ranch. Two thousand acres of it is in cultivation in grain.



More about this Daulton family:

Daulton named grand marshal

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

By Bill Coate - The Madera Tribune


Hildreth (Bud) Daulton, Grand Marshal for this year's Old Timer's parade, right, is shown here with H. Clay Daulton III, owner of the Daulton Ranch, at a family reunion held earlier this year. The parade activities will almost be a birthday celebration for the grand marshal, who will be 90 years old on September 29.


History repeated itself when Hildreth (Bud) Daulton was chosen as the Grand Marshal for this year's Old Timer's parade. According to Daulton, his father, Raynor Daulton, shown above on horseback, was the Grand Marshal in one of the parades of yesteryear.



Hildreth (Bud) Daulton, oldest surviving descendant of one of Madera County's founding fathers, has been named Grand Marshal for the 2004 Old Timer's Day Parade.


The recently honored Maderan comes from a family whose name is synonymous with the creation of Madera County as well as the establishment of its first sheep and cattle ranch. He is the great-grandson of Henry Clay Daulton I, the first chairman of the Madera County Board of Supervisors.


When Daulton leads this year's parade, he will be just four days short of his 90th birthday, having been born on Sept. 29,1914, at the Daulton Ranch to Raynor M. Daulton and Hermina Schlageter Daulton.


The new grand Marshal attended school at Lincoln School and graduated from Madera High in 1932. He is an alumnus of Fresno State.


On Dec. 20, 1936, Daulton was married to Marjorie Sheets. They lived on the Daulton Ranch where he and his brother Turner were in business with their father. They raised purebred Hereford cattle and established a list of well-connected customers, including Harry Warner of Warner Brothers Studios and movie and television star Walter Brennan.


Marjorie Sheets Daulton died in 1997.


Daulton is a past president of the Madera 20/30 Club and the Madera Country Club, of which he is a charter member. He has served as a director on the board of California Hereford Association and the Madera Rotary Club, where he was a Paul Harris Fellow.


For more than a dozen years he was a member of the Madera County Republican Central Committee.


After leaving the cattle business, Daulton served as a deputy under Sheriff W.O. Justice for four years. From there, he went to the Madera City Police Department, having been recruited there by longtime police chief Walter Thomas. Daulton retired from the department in 1972.


One of the highlights of his days in law enforcement came in 1956, when he was chosen by the U.S. Secret Service as part of the security guard for then Vice President Richard Nixon, who was campaigning in the valley during the national election of that year.


Daulton is the father of Fresno artist Joann Scarbrough and the grandfather of Kipp Daulton Zenger of Morgan Hill, who is a programmer for IBM. His son, John Hildreth Daulton, died in 1990.


In addition to his numerous civic duties and professional responsibilities, hunting, fishing, golf and gardening have occupied large portions of his leisure time.


Read more about the ancestors of Henry Clay Dalton in the Dalton Gang Letter November 1996.