My mother’s family history in the Visalia area spans over a century and a half, her great-grandfather John Cutler was elected as the first judge of Tulare County in 1853, at a time when settlers were scarce and the outcome of the election was known well beforehand. At issue was the location of the County Seat and as the voters were equally divided, the proponents for Visalia scoured the countryside for one more vote.
Finally locating a trapper in the upper regions of Dry Creek, they brought him to town, wined and dined him for a week before the election. Trapper Sam Bryson cast the last and deciding vote. His place of residence was challenged as the creek at the time was the boundary between Fresno and Tulare Counties.
“Do you live in Tulare County, Mr. Bryson?”
“I don’t know,” was his prompt reply.
“Where do you live?” he was asked.
“Sometimes I live on one side of Dry Creek and sometimes on the other, and my home is generally under an oak tree,” answered Bryson. “But I am an American citizen and as I don’t vote in Fresno County, I claim a right to vote here.”
His short speech was met with cheers and that’s how Visalia became the County Seat.