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 (http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2011/11/18/placervilles-historic-hangtown-dummy-mysteriously-returns-but-could-be-banished-again/).
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.