June 30, 2017
You are reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Today’s story is from a letter printed in the “Junction City Union” in 1890 written by John Mulligan. He describes the first Fourth of July celebration in our area, which took place in 1854. Mr. Mulligan explains that he arrived with the first batch of mechanics and laborers at Fort Riley. He was hired by Major Ogden to take charge of the quarrying of rock for buildings. Mr. Mulligan went on in his writing to state that “in the summer of 1854, the soldiers and citizen laborers were determined to celebrate the Fourth of July. In order to do so they made a private agreement with some parties outside the post to secretly deliver one hundred and fifty gallons of whiskey and ten gallons of wine to a location on Three Mile Creek. Private Drum was to receive the goods and was on hand the night of July 1st as agreed. As the last keg was rolled into the brush, a Sergeant and two soldiers appeared on the scene and arrested the entire party. The threat was made to confiscate the whiskey and wine, have Private Drum court martialed and have all of them sent to the penitentiary for not less than ten years. Drum threw himself on the ground crying bitterly and begging for the Sergeant to let them go stating they would never be caught doing such a thing again. A proposition was made to the Sergeant that the liquor and ten dollars in gold would be given him, if he would let them off. The Sergeant did so with the understanding that the heads of the kegs were to be knocked in and liquor poured on the ground. As the party began to leave the Sergeant began to knock in the heads of the kegs, but wait…. That’s not the end of the story. The Sergeant only pretended to destroy the liquor. He actually saved it… and sold the liquor for a dollar a quart. The Fourth of July celebration for him and others was a huge success.” This has been “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.