June 20, 2011.
Rough and Ready, now that’s a town name with gravitas. It’s both old west and old school while remaining hearty enough to suit the good guys and the bad guys alike. It’s fitting then that it is located in California.
Except it was named by a bunch of Cheeseheads and was a Presidential reference.
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 Taylor when he commanded the American Forces during the U.S.-Mexican War.
Perhaps the name instilled a bit of boldness, however. It doesn’t get much more wild west than liking to drink, disliking taxes, and altogether disrespecting authority.
Populated mostly by miners from the state of Wisconsin, the town hoped to rid itself of a recently-introduced tax on new mining claims and the prohibition of alcohol in Nevada County (by seceding). Residents were also frustrated that the US Postal Service was demanding they change the name of the town to either “Rough” or “Ready.”
It turns out that they liked to party too much, though. And had pretty poor willpower.
Less than three months later, when preparing for an Independence Day celebration, community members realized that they were no longer entitled to celebrate US independence, and the secession was rescinded by popular vote.
In 2010 the population of Rough and Ready was 963.