Question: I went to Morris E. Dailey School — way back — but never knew who Dailey was or what he did.
— Patrick Kelley, Aptos
Answer: A memorial booklet published by the California State Board of Education following his death in 1919 describes Morris Elmer Dailey as “a man among men, simple and unaffected in manner, a gentleman by instinct, courteous, kindly, hearty.”
Dailey was born in Booneville, Indiana in 1867. He earned degrees at Simpson College in Indiana and Drake University in Iowa.
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He taught mathematics at the San Jose Normal School — now San Jose State University — for one year before earning a master’s degree from Indiana University.
In 1897 Fresno’s City Board of Education appointed Dailey as supervising principal for Fresno City Schools. “He comes highly recommended as an instructor and is also said to possess great executive ability,” according to a Fresno Morning Republican story.
In 1899, Dailey became vice president and professor of history at San Jose State, according to a history of the elementary school bearing his name. Dailey served as president of the college from 1900 to 1918.
Dailey is credited with leading San Jose State through three times of crisis: the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, World War I and the 1918 influenza epidemic. He established the first summer session at the university, advocated for a high school graduation admission standard and reformed the faculty employment policy, according to a biography published by the university.
The land for Dailey Elementary at 3135 N. Harrison Ave. was purchased for $42,000 in 1920 with funds from a bond issue. The school was listed in a local school directory in 1923. It apparently was housed at a temporary location until the school was built in 1925 with funds from another bond issue.
Dailey, which was visited in September 1996 by President Bill Clinton during his re-election campaign, is now a charter school.
Dailey died at his summer home in Pacific Grove on July 5, 1919. He was 52. He was survived by his wife, Frances, and children Morris E. Jr., Alloe, Margaret and Edith, according to a San Jose Mercury News obituary.
Q: I was born at the Clovis Sanitorium. According to my mother, it was on Pollasky Avenue. Where was it exactly and what years was it in operation? When was it torn down?
— Doug Schultz, Fresno
A: The Clovis Sanitorium — not to be confused with the former Clovis Sanitarium on Clovis Avenue — was established by Dr. Milton Scott McMurtry, who came to Clovis in 1904.
In 1920, McMurtry opened the small hospital in a house he purchased from Clovis pioneer merchant R.E.L. Good. According to Peg Bos, president of the Clovis Museum, the nine-room house at 430 Pollasky Ave. was built in 1896.
McMurtry was born in Batesville, Arkansas, in 1880. His father also was a doctor. McMurtry obtained a medical degree from the Missouri Medical School in St. Louis in 1902 and had a practice in Arkansas before moving to Clovis.
McMurtry is often credited with opening the first hospital in Clovis, but registered nurse Julia E. Rowley opened a small hospital five years earlier. Her hospital was upstairs in the DeWitt Building at 453 Pollasky Ave., across the street from McMurtry’s future location.
In addition to running a hospital, McMurtry was the surgeon for the Fresno Flume and Lumber Co. and the Southern Pacific Railroad. He also owned a 90-acre ranch four miles from Clovis, about two-thirds of which was a Calimyrna fig orchard.
McMurtry operated the Clovis Sanitorium until 1939 when Dr. William C. Pendergrass and his sons, doctors James and Clayton Pendergrass, bought the hospital.
The Clovis Sanitorium closed in 1960. (Due to incorrect information from a source, an earlier version of the story reported the sanitorium closed in 1959.) The building was condemned in 1960 and demolished in 1961. A bank building was constructed on the lot and is currently occupied by the Educational Employees Credit Union.
The large magnolia tree in front of the EECU is one of two that were planted in front of the original house in 1896. The Pendergrass medical office still stands on Fourth Street east of Pollasky in Old Town Clovis.
McMurtry died in 1962 at the age of 81. He had been injured in a traffic accident two months before but died from a heart attack, not from the injuries, according to an obituary in The Fresno Bee.
Q: A friend who was raised in Armenian Town told me there was a cemetery there that still exists. Are there any records that show a cemetery there?
— Davis Lewis, Fowler
A: Information from two local Armenian historians casts doubt on the existence of a cemetery in downtown Fresno’s Armenian Town.
Hagop Ohanessian, who teaches in the Armenian Studies program at California State University, Fresno, said he is unfamiliar with a cemetery in the enclave of Armenian immigrants centered around Ventura and M streets.
The first Armenians who came to Fresno were the five Seropian brothers, the first of whom arrived in 1881, according to “The Fresno Armenians” by Berge Bulbulian.
Hagop “Jacob” Seropian died from tuberculosis in 1883, but it isn’t clear where he was buried. Bulbulian’s book says Seropian was “buried elsewhere.” His body was later moved to Ararat Cemetery at Belmont and Hughes avenues, which was founded in 1885 on land donated by Fresno irrigation pioneer Moses J. Church.
According to Bulbulian’s book, fire destroyed many Ararat Cemetery records in 1930. Records for nearby Mountain View Cemetery are also incomplete, Bulbulian wrote, but remaining documents “indicate that Mountain View probably operated the Armenian portion before the Ararat Cemetery Association was established” in 1919. Several names appear in records for both cemeteries.
The Masis Ararat Cemetery was established south of the original cemetery in 1969.