By Judy J. Pinegar
The first established settlement in Rough and Ready was made in the fall of 1849 by a mining company from Wisconsin known as the Rough and Ready Company. Their leader, Captain A. A. Townsend, named the company after General Zachary Taylor (nicknamed “Old Rough and Ready”) who had recently been elected the 12th President of the United States. Captain Townsend had served under “Old Rough and Ready” during the U.S.-Mexican War.
Gold was easy pickings, and by the late 1840s, the population of the town of Rough and Ready had exploded to over 3,000. The town had plenty of uncontrolled lawlessness and a growing resentment of the government which had imposed a Mining Tax on all claims. On April 7th, 1850, a mass meeting was called to propose seceding from the Union.
The Great Republic of Rough and Ready was formed that day as a free and independent republic. The townspeople elected Col. E.F. Brundage as President, and Justice of the Peace Hans Q. Roberts as Secretary of State, who then signed a constitution similar to that of the United States.
The Republic of Rough and Ready lasted only three months as the world’s smallest nation. It came to a halt when preparing for a fourth of July celebration, it was realized as an independent country it had no reason to celebrate. A popular vote restored the new Republic to the United States followed by the most riotous Fourth celebration ever held anywhere. An alternate story for the reason Rough and Ready rejoined the union is that Nevada City refused to sell the “foreign” miners liquor!
In 1859, a devastating fire destroyed most of Rough and Ready as shown in the photo.
Picture courtesy of the Rough and Ready Chamber of Commerce
Rough and Ready is located west of Grass Valley, California, on State Route 20 at the junction of State Route 49, approximately 62 miles (100 km) from Sacramento. The post office at Rough and Ready was established in February 1851. Among the oldest buildings are the blacksmith shop (1850s), the Grange (1850’s), the Odd Fellows Hall (1854), and the Old Toll House. The population was 963 at the 2010 census.
The Rough and Ready Calendar of Events includes the following. It is a great place to visit on a weekend…come for a drive!
The Fruit Jar Pickers
10am to Noon at the Grange in downtown Rough and Ready
Every 2nd Saturday
Breakfast at the Grange
8am to 10 am at the Grange Hall. Great food and entertainment for $5.00
Last Sunday in June
Secession Days in downtown Rough and Ready. 7am to 3pm.
Last Sunday in September
Chili Cook-off in downtown Rough and Ready. 10am to 3pm.
Additional information about Rough and Ready and these events may be obtained from the Rough and Ready Chamber of Commerce webpage
Judy J. Pinegar is a writer and her articles have appeared in many publications
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- Market Statistics for Nevada County Real Estate Sales February 2012 (johnodellrealty.com)