Was the man hanged from a tree or merely choked to death by a strong
miner? Stories conflict. Was he executed for stealing $200 in gold dust,
or someone’s horse; for jumping a claim, or killing a fellow miner?
Stories conflict. Originally known as “First” Garrote (to avoid
confusion with nearby Second Garrote), the name appeared in contemporary
newspapers as: Garote, Garotte, Gerote, and Garrotte. Spellings
conflict. About the only thing that didn’t conflict was the meaning of
Garrote; which is Spanish for execution by strangulation.
The mining camp was founded in late 1849 or early 1850 by Mexican
miners. By June of 1850, an estimated two thousand Mexican miners were
working the rich placers, so rich that mining claims were restricted to
ten feet square. An incident between Indians and white men occurred the
following year which, according to the “Mountaineer” in the December 16,
1851, issue of the San Joaquin Republican, caused the Mexicans to leave
in fear, drastically reducing the area’s mining population.
That same year, the local mining laws were amended and each miner
was allowed fifty yards in length up and down a prospective creek. The
town’s post office was established on November 29 of 1851, under the
name Garrotte. The camp remained a lively place through the 1860’s,
after which it began to dwindle in size; by 1875 the population
struggled to reach one hundred. Those few citizens who remained;
however, decided their town’s name had too bloodthirsty a ring to it and
on January 11 of 1875, the post office and town name was changed to the
more dignified Groveland. I prefer the first appellation.
The stretch of road between Big Oak Flat and Groveland winds through
forests of tall pines; second growth as most of this area was heavily
lumbered during the Gold Rush. A close look through the trees will
reveal traces of the extensive mining operations that occurred here
during the early days, traces that nature is just now beginning to
Groveland is located two miles east of Big Oak Flat on Hwy 120.>br>
Visit Groveland's Historic Sites • Lodging