E Clampus Vitus Plaques Mapping Experiment

by Placerville Newswire / Dec 24, 2016 / comments

Torro's attempt to map out as many E Clampus Vitus plaques as possible. 

If anyone has info on new plaques or any existing ones on this map that have been moved or are no longer there please contact me at 

GPS coordinates are prefered to get an exact location along with a good close up photo of the plaque.

See Map HERE

About ECV and Hangtown: All accounts agree that a person by the name of Joe Zumwalt was the Apostle. On his way to California in 1849, Zumwalt wandered into a printing office in Bowling Green, Pike County, Missouri, saw the ritual of the Clampers, and brought it along. In 1850, he attempted to establish a lodge in Hangtown (Placerville) . It did not succeed because the miners were still moving fast and were not settled down. However, the next year, Zumwalt went to Mokelumne Hill, re-established the Clampers, and, to use an expression found in all the articles, "It spread like wild fire."

As befitting the tangled Clamper history, a question arises as to which Joe Zumwalt. One member of the family, not too many years ago, said that Joseph Zumwalt, a native of Kentucky born in 1800, was the one. Joe left Illinois for California in 1849, dying in the Golden State in 1892. Eve Zumwalt, another member of the Zumwalt family states in a new book, The Romance of Mokelumne Hill (1990) that the true founder was Joel Henry Zumwalt. J.H. was born in 1831 in Frankford, Pike County, Missouri, not too far from Bowling Green. The late Judge J.A. Smith of San Andreas, a noted local historian, was also of the opinion that J.H. was the founder. He quoted the Marysville Democrat of February 1896, and the Calaveras Prospect of May 30,1896, to support his claim. In 1851, J.H. Zumwalt settled in Mokelumne Hill, the birthplace of the first successful Clamper chapter. It was Zumwalt's home until his death in 1906.

Officially, The Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus (ECV) is a fraternal organization dedicated to the study and preservation of the heritage of the American West, especially the history of the Mother Lode and gold mining regions of the area.

But Honorable Brother Al Shumate, M.D., ECV writes: When I first came in this evening [June 25, 1991] and saw all the red shirts, I thought that it was a fireman's meeting. However, I realize I am surrounded by friends in Clamperdom.

As there are a few Westerners here who are not Clampers, I will give those old sayings we always say about ECV:

First, what does E Clampus Vitus mean? Well, that is the greatest mystery of all, because none of us know what it means!

Second, what is the purpose of the society? There is a description of the society that all of you have heard. It is claimed ECV is a historical drinking society; others claim it to be a drinking historical society. The debate continues; it has never been solved.

Third, the objectives of ECV are well known: Members swear to take care of the widows and orphans -- especially the widows.

Fourth, the governing authority of the Clampers is equally as explicit: All members are officers and all officers are of equal indignity.

These precepts give us some idea why some of the things in the history of ECV are murky. As all Clampers know, no one was in any condition to take minutes, and after a meeting, no one could be who remembered what had happened.