Thursday, May 7, 2015

May 7_Placerville, Otherwise known as Hanging Tree

Today, was a wet day, as a cold front moved in and brought in needed moisture. It was just enough to wet the ground and bring in high winds into the campground.

So with that it was a road trip day. 

Where where did I head? Why into Placerville, CA. This town in old was known as "Old Hangtown". So here is an article for a online book titled The Gold Rush Chronicles. The town is quite quaint and small, but like all towns it is moving on. 

I even found a Waffle House, even though it's name is something else

I managed to find the one and only, original "Mel's Diner"

Press Here for Additional Photos of Placerville

Now onto the story of Hangtown

The Gold Rush Chronicles
Old Hangtown
From Dry Diggins to Hangtown to Placerville
Dry Diggins was the first of thirty mining camps to spring up around Coloma, where gold was discovered by James Marshall on January 24, 1848. While other camps, such as Bottle Hill, Georgia Slide, and Murderer's Bar just faded away, Hangtown, or Placerville, was a survivor, along with Diamond Springs, El Dorado, Shingle Springs and Georgetown.

New Epithet Earned ~ Dry Diggins became known as Hangtown in the fall of 1849, due to vigilante justice meted out to criminals at the end of a rope, often at the giant old oak tree on the thoroughfare in town. With the large influx of fortune hunters from around the world came the usual portion of unsavory characters committing all manner of despicable deeds, from robbery to murder.

The miners quickly became short-tempered with the rising crime rate and the lack of readily-available law enforcement, so they took the "law" (or lack thereof) into their own hands. Criminals were punished in short order, whether it be flogging or hanging, based on snap decisions made by impromptu courts with hastily-formed juries. If you voiced your reasonable objections in favor of a more lengthy but fair trial for the accused, you'd risk swinging, too.

Flog Five, Hang Three ~ The first lynching in the camp, a triple hanging, came after a gang of five tried to rob a miner of his gold dust. They were caught and each received a whipping of nearly 40 strokes. Then someone in the crowd of 2,000 said he recognized three of the five (two Mexicans and one Yankee, or was it a Chilean and two Frenchmen?) as being wanted for involvement with a murder on the Stanislaus River. At that the three suspects, who were still weak from the flogging they took, were immediately tried, sentenced and hanged by the mob.

There was one dissenter, E.G. Buffum, who stood on a stump and protested on behalf of the accused, saying they were too weak from loss of blood to either stand or speak in their own defense. His valiant efforts were in vain, however, and he himself was threatened with lynching by the angry mob if he didn't 'shut up'. Buffum escaped with his life and later became the senior editor of the Alta newspaper in San Francisco.

The three suspects were hanged together from the huge oak tree in camp. The location of this well-used hangin' tree is marked by an effigy dangling by his neck from the second story of the Hangman's Tree Historic Spot in downtown Placerville. The stump is said to be in the cellar.

Crone Swings ~ A lynching in 1850 resulted from an incident that happened at the El Dorado Hotel, when a miner accused a young monte dealer of "waxing the cards". The card dealer was the infamous Dick Crone, who threatened to cut the miner's heart out if he accused him of cheating again. When the miner repeated the words, the gambler drew a large bowie knife, plunging it into the miner's chest twice, twisting it around the second time (obviously trying to make good on his threat to cut his heart out). Miners flocked into town from outlying diggings to locate and punish Crone. He was found hiding in Coffee's tavern, and was promptly tried (with witnesses testifying), convicted, and hanged that very evening by a mob jury of thousands.

Fed Up ~ The vigilante lynching’s, with their often deserved but sometimes questionable justice, brought about a measure of peace within the camp. The criminals hadn't left the scene completely, however. They just moved their business to the outskirts of town, ambushing miners. These bushwhackers had a gang-like network, complete with in-town spies, secret handgrips, and special passwords. (Could it be that they also wore their hats backwards, sported red or blue kerchiefs, and bagged their Levi's?) A vigilante committee was formed to deal with this problem.

Gamblers caught fleecing the miners were not well-tolerated either and were run out of town. And once when a gang of ruffians tried to lynch an unfortunate black man named Bartlett for some imagined offense, "Yank" and his partner Dick Arnold saved him. Yank 'ran over the tops of their heads' with a knife between his teeth and cut Bartlett down after the Bill Burnes gang had hoisted him up into the top of a giant oak tree. And yet another example of the camp's intolerance for violence and cruelty was when they protested the inhumane treatment of a bull in the bull ring atop Circus Hill by uprooting the stockade and rolling the logs down to the creek.

A famous story that goes with Hangtown is the historic hangman

Placerville’s Historic Hangtown Dummy Disappears then Mysteriously Returns But Could Be Banished Again.

November 18, 2011 12:55 PM
Placerville’s historic hangman is back but not everyone is happy. (credit: CBS)

PLACERVILLE (CBS13) – A piece of Placerville history has mysteriously returned after a three year absence but you could say there is a hung jury over whether its reappearance is a good thing.

For years, a gold rush-era clad dummy hung from a noose in front of the historic Hangman’s Tree Bar on Main Street. At one point, during California’s Gold Rush, Placerville was called Hangtown because of the numerous hangings that took place in the town.

Hangman’s Tree Bar sits on the site of Placerville’s original tree where vigilantes would execute men without judge or jury.

“The actual tree stump is in the basement of that building where they used to hang people there,” said Placerville resident Stephen Tapson.
The site is even listed as #141 of California’s Historical Landmarks.
The Hangtown dummy was taken down in 2008 when the bar was closed down and now the old building’s has been red-tagged as too dangerous to occupy.
The mannequin’s whereabouts for the past three years is a mystery. Rumors range from the dummy being stolen to just being stored in a closet.
Recently, the dummy mysteriously re-appeared back in its precarious position hanging above Main Street. A piece of Placerville history restored.

Back to DaGirls
Anyway, back to where DaGirls RV is located and all setup. So where are we? Our location is Lotus, California, in a Thousand Trails CG called Ponderosa. This CG is alongside the American South Fork River, where the river used to run high and fast. But with the drought, it is slow and narrow.

During this time of year and with the drought, they release enough water for rafting and floating, but only about 4 days a week. The view above is what it looks like when rafting is allowed. 

Press Here for Additional Photos

Safe Travels & Journeys
from DaGirls         "Della                     &                Tilly"