"What's in a Name?": (Tales, Historical or Fictitious, about 111 California Gold Belt Place Names)

By C. M. Goethe | Go to book overview

FOREWORD

WHAT'S IN A NAME? Imagination, Contemplation, Discussion, some Agitation, then finally Selection, Decision. Placenames have a certain amount of Ossification, as in Aino placenames of Japan, Amerind placenames of North America. Into Californian Gold Belt placenames, went some Deliberation, at times, Competition, more often Jollification. This last descriptive noun merits some Interrogation. Why should eager, hectic Goldseekers indulge in christening newborn settlements with such outlandish names as DOGTOWN, LIARS' FLAT, BOOTJACK, HANGTOWN, FIDDLETOWN, ROUGH AND READY, FROG-BAR? Because humor was a valuable antidote for Frontier dangers! Cholera, death by thirst on the alkaline desert, redskin arrows from ambush that could be shot clean through a deer, all these constantly menaced Covered Wagon routes. At Panama, Yellow Jack noiselessly marked his victims. Sailing 'Round the Horn meant scurvy, Antartic storms, then the Doldrums' becalmment. Once the Gold Belt finally was reached, there was disease, disillusionment, despair. Vigilante government could not quickly be transmuted into a real republican state. In a land still lacking law, survival further depended on being "quick-on-the-trigger." Many, too, were unaccustomed to merciless rays of the Sierran piedmont's mid- summer sun. The gentle, soothing hand of woman usually was absent during the DECADE OF NAMES. Consolation by the weak was sought in repeated draughts of "three fingers of rotgut."

Fortunately gold diggers, almost to a man, were young men. Theirs was a contempt for death that fills one a century later with admiration. They snapped their fingers in the face of danger. They deliberately misspelled "UVA DAM" as "YOU-BE-DAMNED." They dubbed their new villages GROWLERSBURG, POKERVILLE, YOU BET. This, while they commenced building this empire we call California.


II

A Downeast Yankee, one of a Covered Wagon company, came to HANGTOWN, continued on to PINCHEMTIGHT. His "Prairie Schooner" had followed the California trail blazed by Bible Toter Jedediah Smith. He had vision beyond the rockpiles accumulating around his Long Tom. He found near it a beautiful valley. Dotted with graceful weeping oaks. Its wild oats reached his saddle's pommel. He "homesteaded" its best "160."

From the "Diggins," he had Wells-Fargoed a tidy sum to a Boston bank. His log cabin completed, he wrote his Vermont sweetheart, "Come West." Married in Sacramento, two girl babies

-XV-

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"What's in a Name?": (Tales, Historical or Fictitious, about 111 California Gold Belt Place Names)
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page I
  • Dedication III
  • The '49ers XIII
  • Pioneer Leadership XIV
  • Foreword XV
  • Gold Rush Days' Chinese XVIII
  • List of Illustrations IXX
  • Amador City 1
  • Angel's Camp 2
  • Antelope 5
  • Brown's Valley 13
  • Brandy Flat 18
  • Butte City 20
  • Calico Mountains 22
  • Camptonville 24
  • Carmelito 25
  • Carson Creek 26
  • Cherokee (butte County) 28
  • Cherokee, (calaveras County) 30
  • Chile Gulch 33
  • Chinese Camp 35
  • Coloma 38
  • Coyote Diggings 50
  • Delirium Tremens 51
  • Donkeyville 52
  • Doty's Flat 55
  • Double Springs 57
  • Downieville 62
  • Eel River 65
  • Fiddletown 68
  • Folsom 71
  • Forbestown 72
  • Forest Hill Divide 74
  • Forest Home 77
  • Gold Run 81
  • Gouge-Eye 82
  • Grass Valley 85
  • Growlersburg 87
  • Hangtown 87
  • Hangtown "Fry" 88
  • Hangtown (deer Creek) 91
  • Humbug 91
  • Hundred-Ounce Gulch 92
  • Illinoistown 93
  • Jackass Hill 96
  • Jayhawk 96
  • Jesus Maria 98
  • Kentucky Slide 99
  • Liars' Flat 102
  • Lotus 104
  • Marysville 105
  • Michigan Bar 107
  • Michigan Bluff 111
  • Mokelumne Hill 112
  • Murphy's 120
  • Mad Mule Canyon, Whiskey Creek 124
  • Nevada City 127
  • One-Horse Town 128
  • Oroville 132
  • Paradise 133
  • Pinchemtight 134
  • Pokerville 137
  • Prairie City 139
  • Railroad Flat--Also Bummerville 140
  • Rattlesnake Bar 142
  • Rebel Hill 145
  • Red Dog 148
  • Rough and Ready 150
  • Shingle Springs 152
  • Sicord Flat (not "Sucker Flat") 152
  • Slumgullion 153
  • Smartsville 156
  • Sorefinger 159
  • Squaw Hollow 159
  • Sutter Creek 160
  • Sutter's Fort 162
  • Tiger Lily 164
  • Timbuctu 166
  • Tin Cup 174
  • Twenty-Mule-Team Canyon 175
  • Vallecito 177
  • Virginiatown 179
  • W. Y. O. D. 185
  • You-Be-Damned 187
  • Greeks and Forty-Niners 187
  • Glossary Of California Gold Belt Terms 190
  • Index 199
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