“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Kingsburg in Fresno County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

Fred French

Fred French Marker image. Click for full size.
By Denise Boose, May 27, 2016
1. Fred French Marker
Inscription.  On the night of November 2, 1916, Fred French, while performing his duties of deputy night watchman for the community of Kingsburg, encountered Lew Cowan behaving in a drunken and disorderly manner in the pool hall. Cowan and French engaged in a wrestling match, and bystanders pulled them apart, whereupon Cowan ran away. French then called Constable George Boyle who along with U.S. Marshall S.J. Shannon, found and arrested Cowan. Cowan also caused a disturbance at that time and managed to land a punch to the face of Boyle. They took Cowan to jail, but by that time he had become calm and pleaded that he was sorry and would go home and sleep it off if they would just release him. Constable Boyle then took him home.

Cowan's mother received him at home, but could not stop him from collecting a shotgun and shells and leaving the house. He met a fellow named, "Larson," who had been with him in the initial altercation in the pool hall. Allegedly he threatened Larson and force him to accompany him. The two men walked to the railroad depot, where they spotted French leaning against a fence. Cowan raised the gun and fired both barrels, hitting
Fred French Marker image. Click for full size.
By Denise Boose, May 27, 2016
2. Fred French Marker
The marker is visible mounted on the building partly obstructed by the bush.
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French in the head and killing him instantly.

Cowan sent Larson home and absconded. Ensuing searches failed to find Cowan. A copy of the wanted poster issued for him can be found in the historical jail.

In her book, "Bit of Sweden in the Desert," Pauline Peterson Mathes, gave this account: "Thirteen years after her father's murder and the day after her mother's funeral Alice (Fred French's daughter) was sweeping the sidewalk in front of their home when and old looking, bearded man came along, tapping a cane as he walked. He asked if that was Fred French's house. She told him her father had been dead for 13 years, having been murdered in 1916. The old man then looked at her with tears streaming down his face, and said, "Oh, I'm really sorry to hear that.' He went on in the general direction of the old Cowan place. Was that old man Lew Cowan? We'll never know."
Erected by The Kingsburg Historical Society, The Larry L. Hillblom Foundation, David Meyer Project Director.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, MusicLaw EnforcementSportsWomen. A significant historical date for this entry is November 2, 1916.
Location. 36° 30.885′ N, 119° 33.114′ W. Marker is in Kingsburg, California, in Fresno County. Marker can be reached
Fred French, his wife Lydia and 8 year old daughter Alice. image. Click for full size.
circa 1916
3. Fred French, his wife Lydia and 8 year old daughter Alice.
Portrait taken just one month before French was gunned down in 1916. He was 36.
from Draper Street, on the right when traveling north. Located in the back alleyway near the historic jail. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1440 Draper Street, Kingsburg CA 93631, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. George Boyle (here, next to this marker); The Historic Kingsburg Jail (a few steps from this marker); The History of the Town Kingsburg (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Libby, McNeill and Libby Cannery (approx. 4˝ miles away); Frank Dusy (approx. 4.9 miles away); Selma (approx. 4.9 miles away); Traver (approx. 5.9 miles away); Groundwater Irrigation Beginnings (approx. 6.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Kingsburg.
$500.00 Reward Poster for Lew Cowan image. Click for full size.
4. $500.00 Reward Poster for Lew Cowan
The Historic Kingsburg Jail image. Click for full size.
By Denise Boose, May 27, 2016
5. The Historic Kingsburg Jail
Credits. This page was last revised on November 5, 2019. It was originally submitted on June 22, 2016, by Denise Boose of Tehachapi, California. This page has been viewed 401 times since then and 23 times this year. It was the Marker of the Week November 4, 2018. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on June 22, 2016, by Denise Boose of Tehachapi, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.

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Jun. 13, 2021