Sunday, May 23, 2021

The Story of Billy Mulligan

The article below is from eyewitness Lell Hawley Woolley, a member of the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance of 1856:

William Mulligan was shipped out of the State on the steamer "Golden Age" on June 5th, 1856, with instructions never to return under penalty of death. However, after three or four years of absence, he returned to San Francisco. 

He was often seen on the street but was not molested until sometime in the summer of 1862 when he got a crowd of boys around him on the crossing of Prospect Place and Clay street, between Powell and Mason streets. It was not long before he had trouble with them and shot into the crowd, injuring a boy, however, not seriously. 

The police were soon on the ground, but Mulligan had made his way into the old St. Francis Hotel on the corner of Clay and Dupont streets which was vacant at that time. The police came and they were directed to the building where Billy could be found. 

When the police entered they found they were half a story below the floor of a very large room in the second story. Billy was called upon to surrender. He told them that the first one that put his head above the floor would be a dead man, and knowing the desperate character they were dealing with, they thought it best to retire and get instruction from the City Attorney, who told them they had a right to take him dead or alive, whereupon they proceeded to arm themselves with rifles and stationed themselves on the second floor of a building on the opposite side of the street from the St. Francis on Dupont street, and when Mulligan was passing one of the windows the police fired. 

Mulligan dropped to the floor, dead as a doornail. He was turned over to the Coroner and has not been seen on the streets since. Charles P. Duane is another one of twenty-seven men who were shipped out of the State and returned. He shot a man named Ross on Merchant street, near Kearny. I do not remember whether the man lived or died, or what became of Duane.

-- end.

Lell Hawley Woolley was born in New York in 1825. He lived in Vermont and left there in 1849. He crossed the plains to California by mule train, took up gold mining in Weaverville, California, and later turned to hotelkeeping in Grass Valley, California. After he married, he moved to San Francisco. 

As a businessman, he joined the 1856 Committee of Vigilance when the call went out. He was in San Francisco when the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance of 1856 rose up and took control of the city. He chronicled what he saw, and published his eyewitness account later. 

The account above is an excerpt from the publication, "California: 1849-1913, or The Rambling Sketches and Experiences of Sixty-four Years' Residence in that State," by Lell Hawley Woolley, member of the Society of California Pioneers and of the Vigilance Committee of 1856. Oakland, Cal., De Witt & Snelling, 1913.

1 comment:

  1. This Billy Mulligan seemed like a nice fellow. And from what I've read, some claimed that his favorite hobby was baking bread. Who knew. And no, he's not related to the Irish broth that we all call Mulligan stew. But Billy Boy did like Mulligan stew and was said to eat the stew along with his fresh baked bread. It was said that Mulligan was baking bread on the night that he was lynched. Whether or not this was an actual hobby has been debated but then again anybody could have claimed to be Billy Mulligan and I'm not so sure if this is a true article. I've read better columns on other sites about such characters but could find nothing. I hope this helps. Billy Mulligan looks like the type of guy that would have a movie made about him. I can just picture it now. "Billy Boy" starring what's his face. Stay tuned.


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