The ceremony takes place as antique fire equipment and teams gather for the Virginia City firemen’s muster this weekend, which is free and open to the public.
The toast to Mullen has become a tradition for the San Francisco muster team each time it travels to Virginia City for firemen’s muster competition. The tradition started on July 7, 1984, with the dedication of Mullen’s restored grave, a joint project between the Comstock Firemen’s Museum and the San Francisco Fire Department Museum.
An old cemetery map showed Mullen’s grave with the notation “S.F.” and 1877 newspaper accounts of his death noted that he had been a San Francisco fireman and was a member of the Exempt Firemen’s Association of that city. The newspapers also reported that Virginia City’s fire chief had started a subscription drive to pay for Mullen’s funeral, and that he would be buried in the Virginia City Exempt Firemen’s cemetery. That documentation initiated the project between the two museums to restore the grave, and San Francisco historians began the task of researching Mullen’s activities as a volunteer fireman in that city. As discussions about the project took place Mullen began to be referred to by all involved as “Our Pal, Bill.”
For more information, visit http://virginiacitymuster.tlcurtis.com.