Friday, March 17, 2017

Our Past Is Present March 17, 2017

March 17, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Today is “St. Patrick’s Day”, which reminds us that the Irish were the most prominent ethnic group represented among the early settlers of Junction City and Geary County.  Perhaps the most legendary Irishman in our local history was Tom Cullinan.  He was among Junction City’s most famous early law men.  Citizens referred to him as Tom Allen. Tom made his reputation and kept the peace with his fists rather than with a gun.
            The “Junction City Union” editor, George W. Martin, wrote an article about Tom Allen Cullinan upon Tom’s death.  The article included some of the following information:  “Tom Allen Cullinan was only eleven years of age when he left the home of his well-to-do parents in Ireland and went to sea.  This was the beginning of a life of adventure, which took him from the seaports of England and Ireland to the Crimean in 1854, the mining camps of gold-rush Colorado, the cattle ranching operation of Kit Carson and Lucas Maxwell on the Cimmaron and finally served as a scout for Union forces in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Missouri during the Civil War. 
            It was after the war in 1866, that the Cullinan’s first arrived in Geary County.  Tom had a contract to supply beef to the Army at Fort Riley.  He worked in that capacity between here and Fort Laramie for several years, but in 1871 he became the Marshall of Junction City.”
            Again, according to the newspaper editor, Tom Cullinan “had a fist with which he could split an inch board and he always gave a lick under the left jaw, which never failed to lay a man out.  While he always carried a gun, her preferred to use his fists, because he never wanted to kill.
            Tom Allen was about five feet nine inches tall and weighed about 175 pounds.  Although his physical size was not great, he met all comers for years and never knew defeat.  Along with being the City Marshall, Cullinan was a Sheriff’s Officer and also the Fire Chief.  At the time of his death in 1904, Tom Allen had been city Marshall since 1872 and served under 18 mayors.”