Placerville proud to be called 'Old Hangtown'

Originally published at: Placerville proud to be called 'Old Hangtown' | Boing Boing


Surely they just mean it’s a good place to hang out… from a tree… by your neck.


Bugs Bunny really fucked things up. Maroon is potentially not a great nor funny term to use in this specific context


Ugh. I’ll just update plans for my next trip to CA…



I have a feeling Placerville gentlemen might flip instead for ‘Old Well-Hungtown’, their definition of ‘civic pride’ being what it is.

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People sure do like to take civic pride in perverse stuff sometimes.

Salem, Massachusetts has built an entire tourist trade out of their infamous history of hanging a bunch of people for crimes that everyone now acknowledges they were completely innocent of.


And the people of Hartlepool, England, are called “Monkey Hangers” because when a monkey washed ashore from a shipwreck they hanged it as a French spy.

The Low Countries have the best weird nicknames, from the “boulder haulers” of Amersfoort to the ‘‘bluefingers’’ of Zwolle- my favourite is the ‘‘moon extinguishers’’ of Mechelen who mistook moonlight shining through their cathedral tower windows for a fire.


Here in Dogtown any mother fucker who proposes hanging people will find themselves stabbed in an alley we have re-branded a “Court.”

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Around the same period in a gold mining town in Victoria Australia is a ‘place’ named Dry Diggings so I gather this was a term used in the “gold rush” era internationally. In a weird coincidence in the same area is a town called Jim Crow (named after a British coloniser) which has caused debate around a name change given ‘black lives matter’ and the fact that because of the gold the indigenous blackfellas were massacred in the area. The Chinese gold ‘diggers’ also had a very harsh time.

A place name changes meaning over time and is worthy of of scrutiny and discussion over the things that need to be remembered and the things that need to be reconciled.

I was going to say the same thing. For the curious, but not enough to follow a link, it comes from the escaped slaves in Haiti in the era before the revolution.


Why not call it Redundantville?

Northern Cal is home to some very organized hate groups, with members in local government and law enforcement. There are good people standing against them, thankfully. The Placerville city council is trying to mollify them both by losing the noose butt keeping the name.

It sucks, and is defended with the lie that the identity of Hangtown came from spontaneous vigilante justice against three white thieves in the lawless West. That literal white-washing of history tries to erase the racist truth, which is that hangings were part of a structured, racist “justice” system that was pretty lax on proving the guilt of the wide variety of black, indigenous, Latinx, and Asian people they killed, along with whites.

"Retributory violence could also cut across race and ethnicity. This was especially true in the early years of the Gold Rush, when, according to a forty-niner from France, "It seemed as if every prison in every civilized country had sent the elite of its inmates out here to colonize this country.“5 In a high-stakes, all-male atmosphere, in the absence of regular law enforcement, vigilance committees meted out punishment to accused criminals of every background – Anglo-Americans, Irishmen, Australians, Frenchmen, Belgians, Chileans, Sonorans, Californios, Miwoks. Death by hanging wasn’t the only extralegal remedy in the gold camps. Lynch courts also dictated banishment, branding, whipping – or a combination of all three. In many cases, vigilantes relieved the accused of his shirt, tied him to a tree, or forced him to hug its trunk, and administered the rawhide.”

kcet. org/shows/lost-la/witness-to-a-hanging-californias-haunted-trees

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