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Cairo, Il distillery demolished for Ft. Defiance

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June 1861

I don't know of any distilleries in Cairo, but I am sure there were some.

Here is an stoneware jug from Nichols and Stegg:


I can't find any history of the distillery, who knows, maybe it was the one being destroyed.

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Ah, the perils of the past...cholera. “dead shot,” sometimes called whiskey, but more familiarly known as “Park’s lightning”



The Kentucky Railroaders and What Killed Them

Bad Whiskey, Impure Water and Meat not Altogether Fresh

Cairo, so Far, Exempt—Caution and We Will Escape

For the past week or ten days our people have been greatly excited over the reports which they have heard of the existence of cholera among the laborers on the Cairo extension of the Mississippi Central railroad in the low grounds of Kentucky opposite Cairo. We have endeavored to get at the truth in reference to this matter and have reason to believe that we have succeeded and that what we state in this account is substantially correct. In many instances these reports were greatly exaggerated and caused some unnecessary fear and excitement in this city. We do not publish these particulars for the purpose of scaring any person, but on the contrary, to show to our people the necessity for cleanliness in person and premises, and the greatest care with regard to what they eat and drink.

So far Cairo has been exempt from cholera, and it is only necessary for our people to exercise judgment and care in matters of diet and to the proper use of disinfectants, and we have no fear but that we shall pass through the ordeal unscorched.

As for the disease among the men in Kentucky, it seems to have originated about in this way: A few days ago the men were paid off, as we understand it, receiving two months pay. Many of them at once went “off on a spree,” some of them coming to this city while others remained on the ground and had their “dead shot,” sometimes called whiskey, but more familiarly known as “Park’s lightning” brought to them. They drank to excess of this poisonous stuff, and it they drank the foulest of water. Water that was fully as bad if not worse than the whiskey. The water used for drinking and cooking purposes was obtained from what some people calls springs, but which in truth are nothing more than holes in the ground through which sipe water bubbles up. In other places the workmen in order to have water handy dug wells. When the water was first taken from these wells it had a bright, clear appearance, and there was nothing in the taste to indicate that it was not good, healthy water. But after being above ground fifteen to twenty minutes, it would turn green or black and emit a sickening smell. Then add to this the fact that on Sunday and Monday last the men were furnished with fresh meat.

That is to say meat that was once fresh. It seems that the men complained that their boarding bosses did not furnish them with fresh meat, that they were compelled to live on bacon, etc. To satisfy them and stop their grumbling, the latter part of last week, several of the boarding bosses came to this city and purchased large quantities of fresh beef, which they packed on ice and started for their camp. The ice did not last long, and when the meat arrived at the works it was not freshest. But it was not altogether spoiled, and “would do.” It was cooked up and of this the men eat freely.

Now taking all this together—bad whiskey, worse than bad water, and meat which to say the least was “not sound,” and is it not a wonder that every mother’s son of them did not die? Out of one camp on twenty men, in less than three days, nine of them died; and in another camp the same proportion. In all probably 20 men died from Monday morning to Thursday night, when the men were disbanded, the camps broken up, and the works, for the time being, deserted.

I am not real familiar with Cairo...but this article by a native is informative:


Down Town

The thriving if sinful city of Cairo seemed destined for greatness. What went wrong?

By Paul Turner

"By the way, it's Cairo as in "care-o," not "ky-ro" like in Egypt or "kay-ro" like Twain wrote in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The latter is how people from Kentucky and other idiots pronounce it, though I do enjoy it when some blow-dried anchorperson says it that way with a look-at-me I-really-know-how-to-say-it aren't-I-country-fried-smart shit-eating grin."

"....A religious missionary at the time reported to his superiors in New York that he had found "one of the most wicked places in America."

Charles Dickens

""At length...we arrived at a spot so much more desolate than any we had yet beheld that the forlornest places we had passed were, in comparison with it, full of interest. At the junction of the two rivers...lies a breeding place of fever, ague, and death;"


Lynching history......racial unrest.

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