Small Town Heritage


            My ancestors immigrated to America in the early 1900 from Greece.  They initially lived in the Greco dominant area of Minneapolis before heading west to California.  Beyond what little I know about my ancestors my understanding of Greek heritage is from history books.  While ancestrally I identify with the Greeks I feel that my heritage is based in the small town I have grown up in.  I identify with the hard working people and nature of the towns existence.  The history and cultural practices of the town are both spoken and unspoken, which is deeply rooted in mining, traditional values, and the American Dream. 

              Placerville, California is a small town of about ten thousand.  The town is rooted in the mining culture that swept through California in 1848.  Placerville is very close to Coloma, which is famed for being the site of gold discovery in California.  Through the years Placerville has had many distinct names.  During the gold rush the town was called Dry Diggings.  Dry Diggings refers to the manner in which miners would separate gold from the soil.  With the quick earnings of the gold rush the rate of robberies increased.  The local court began hanging criminals to send a message the crime would not be tolerated.  The numerous hangings produced the towns’ second historic name, Hangtown.  The theme of mining and the colorful name of Hangtown have endured.  At a historic bar in town called the Hangman’s tree there is a controversial symbol of the towns past.  Above the Hangman’s tree there is a dummy hung from a noose.  In recent years the dummy has disappeared and repapered, as vandals would remove the famed dummy.   Currently the city is determining if the hangman should be allowed to remain as a historic landmark or if the image is to grotesque to allow in the streets.  Here is a news article about the hangman (


            Today the small town is a quite expanse of pine trees and back roads.  The once bustling main street is now a row of gift shops focused on the mining culture and different art galleries.  The art movement of the town came from the popularity of local artist Thomas Kinkaid.  Currently the sleepy town now sits in the foothills and peaks in both summer and winter due to tourist destinations in Tahoe and Apple Hill in Camino.  From my perspective the town is filled with hard working honest people, remnants of the mining culture and swift justice of the area.  I see my heritage more with the people of this small town than ancestry of another nation. 



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11 Responses to Small Town Heritage

  1. acanas14 says:

    I love the fact that you are talking about such an important place for you. It is always nice to know the history of where you are from

  2. rhenke2014 says:

    I like that you feel such a connection with this place. Do you feel like the tourism is effecting it positively or are there some negative effects?

    • masonanderson says:

      Well I feel that the world is not black and white. However, tourism has benefited the area in which is a just a stop up to Tahoe.

  3. Great job of discussing both the past and present it shows the amount of growth the town has really had.

  4. rstadnitskiy says:

    I found this to be an interesting topic.

  5. tjimenez7 says:

    I found it very inspiring and beautiful how fondly you speak on the small town you grew up in. Even with its tough history, you still manage to find its beauty and I admire that.

  6. jmelendez2 says:

    I believe you did a splendid job developing an interesting theory and approach towards ones heritage that in not readily expressed or analyzed.

  7. sdavallou says:

    I really enjoyed learning about the history of your small home town. My family also came to California to live the America dream, and moved to an area called Pioneer, where a lot of mining was done. Did your relatives ever stuck any gold?

  8. rolmos3 says:

    You described how mining was a large part of the cities history, which got me to wonder if mining is generally considered to be a part of heritage, because even though I’m still not sure the way you described the town shows it can.

  9. I love the outdoors ! You were surrounded my nature must have been nice. Just like you my parents came here for the American dream.

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