Hangtown hanging

That same year of 1849 a remarkable case occurred in Placerville, which already went by the name of Hangtown at the time, when a man known as Irish Dick waylaid and murdered a man he had previously had difficulties with at a gambling parlor in town. He was tried without delay and, as this was not his first offense and there was no doubt as to his guilt, it was determined that Dick would hang.

Yankee House, Hangtown

They took him to the large oak tree along the creek that had already been used for a similar purpose and tied the rope around his neck. But here Dick spoke out, asking for one final favor. His request was granted and he was allowed to climb the tree, tie the other end of the rope to a stout limb and then jump off, thus snapping his neck. It is said that Dick died cheerfully, quickly, and without a struggle.




  1. I enjoyed your Irish Dick tale, and your “one small leap for man” pun. (I’m hopelessly addicted to puns myself; maybe that’s why my list of friends is diminishing!” For you, and for Carol Buchanan–and anyone else who wants to join in–how many euphemisms for “hanging” can you think of? “Necktie party” “Dancing on air” “Stretching Hemp” and “Strangulation jig” all come to mind.

    • Good to hear from you, Stan.

      The Irish Dick tale is one that sits on my mind a bit, too. They say he got into an altercation in a gambling parlor in Hangtown. He probably got cheated and like as not by a monte dealer. But when he waylaid the guy and killed him Dick got himself way out on a limb and that soon brought him to the end of his rope. It’s a sad story, but one with a lesson, don’t get hung up over gambling.

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