Monday, September 14, 2009

John Wilson's Whiskey

The following appeared in a Kansas City, Missouri newspaper, June 30, 1892.

The New York Sun publishes a story which appeared several years ago in the Jefferson City Tribune to the effect that, in 1822 John Wilson went from Ireland to Missouri and took up his abode in Miller county of this state where he lived in a large cave; and that on his death he was buried in a smaller cave close by, with a demijohn of the best liquor to be had, where he still reposes.

The story as now told in the hills and hollows of the Osage river country in the above, "with variations." The local annalist relates that Wilson was a remarkably tough citizen, who traded with the Indians, and was known to everybody, white and red, throughout a wide and wild region. He entertained all travelers who passed through the country, making it a point, however, never to ask a man his name, where he was going or whence he came. When Wilson was about to die, so the story goes, he directed that his abdominal cavity should (after his death, of course) be filled with salt--that being his idea of embalming; that his body should be placed in the little cave, with two jugs of whisky, one at his head and the other at his feet; and that the cave should then be sealed up with masonry. He further directed that at the expiration of a certain number of years the seplucher was to be opened by certain jolly good fellows and the jugs removed and the contents thereof drank and then the jugs, after being refilled, should be placed in the former positions; then the cave was to be sealed up again, and to so remain till the expiration of the second term of years. The story ran that these provisions were complied with at the expiration of the first period, but the arrival of the second anniversary found the Osage country all torn up by the civil war, and the pall bearers, mourners and friends of the late lamented so scattered that a reunion was impossible; so that, since then, the salted remains of the old pioneer have remained with the attendant jugs in the narrow resting place in the wild hills of the Osage.

To settle the truth of history in regard to old Wilson and his queer funeral an expedition might well be set on foot. If Wilson and his whisky should not be discovered, the explorers would still be repaid by the scenery of the most picturesque region in the state of Missouri.

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