Ken Gonzales-Day, a photographer and Scripps College professor, wrote the book "Lynching in the West: 1850-1935." He has traveled California trying to locate the actual trees used by lynch mobs. He also has posted an online walking guide to the Downtown locations where notorious Los Angeles lynchings occurred in the 19th century. (The hanging shown above is variously dated 1855 and 1870 in the Los Angeles Public Library photo database.) Sample:
Even in the 1850s, as visitors flooded into the Bella Union Hotel to dine on a bear that had been killed in the nearby San Gabriel Mountains, others made their way to the Montgomery Saloon where Anglos crowded in to get a glimpse at a rare necklace. The necklace was made of human ears that had once belonged to some of the regions most notorious Latino bandits. The necklace's maker remains a subject of historical debate, but one can be certain that in such fierce times, no person of Mexican or Latin American descent would have risked entering an establishment where the bloody gleam of such jewels was admired. Each of these buildings stood near the intersection of Main and Arcadia Streets.
This came up last night at the first Zůcalo public square lecture to be held at the Getty. "Immigration and the Changing Picture of California" was the title, but as panel moderator Bob Sipchen (editor of Sierra Magazine) explained, the discussion was keyed to the Getty's stunning current exhibition of photos by pioneer California photographer Carleton Watkins. To learn about Watkins, and see a few selected photos — including an 1880 image of the Old Plaza in its authentic size and shape — see Judy Graeme's post at Native Intelligence.