The first faint echoes of the Mulligan family were heard on Quarry Hill in 1848 when two of the four Mulligan Brothers, Frank and Pat, purchased the property from the Easton Bank for $100 dollars down. Seven years later they sold the business to J.P. Huffman who immediately resold it to local businessman George Gulick. It was from Gulick that the eldest Mulligan Brother, James, leased the quarry in 1858, continuing the business his brothers started.
The Mulligan Quarry: 1848-1960
Under James’s leadership, the business ran mostly on a barter basis. He exchanged stone for everything from livestock to liquor. By 1860 James ran three lime kilns, built a two family
tenant house on site, produced 25,000 bushels of lime annually, charged 10 cents per bushel and netted $2,500 in profit. James’s wife Catherine and five children soon emigrated from Ireland to Clinton. Catherine’s brothers, William and Pat, moved to Clinton as well and worked as laborers in the quarry. Other Irish immigrants were arriving in Clinton at this time. Most, like the Mulligans, settled on Halstead Street and many found occasional work at the Quarry.
When James died in 1862 the quarry business passed to his sons. His youngest son, Michael headed the company and under his leadership, the business flourished. Gone were the days of barter and instead the Mulligan brothers expected cash on the barrelhead. Within four years the brothers were able to raise enough money to put a down payment on the quarry, and it was back under Mulligan ownership. Michael soon expanded upon the seasonal quarry business first by cutting and storing ice for sale in the summer, and then with the advent of the Railroad in 1875 by selling coal during the winter season. Michael was at an advantage, in coal sales. He bartered gravel for the rail beds in exchange for cheaper rates on his coal shipments. With the arrival of the automobile, stone from the M.C. Mulligan quarry also filled the network of road beds that soon blanketed the region. The stone for the foundation of the Town Hall and Library on Main street was donated by the Mulligan brothers, and after the great fire of 1891, Mulligan stone was used to rebuild the town of Clinton.
The Mulligan Quarry business was in continual operation through to the 1960s. Michael Mulligan’s Lime Kilns still stand today as do five of the early Quarry buildings including the Quarry Office, Screen House, Dynamite Shed, Blacksmith Shop and Tenant House. The stories of the Mulligans, quarrymen and tenant families help bring these buildings to life.
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