Sunday, May 4, 2008

James Mullins 1893-1952

This is James Mullins, my grandpa. I was born before he died. I always hoped to find a picture where he held me, but so far I haven't come across one. He was born on June 22, 1893 to Joshua Mullins and Annie Houston in Baker, Letcher County, Kentucky.

In June of 1900 he was living with his parents in Millstone. Joshua and Annie had been married seven years at that time and had four children: James 6, Nan Vina 5, Rebecca Coettie 2 and William Arthur 2 months old. They were living next door to his grandparents, Nathaniel and Elizabeth "Betsy" Fleming Houston. His uncles Olvin G. and Oliver Denton "Denton" Houston were in that household. Olvin ended up marrying Jesse Wright's daughter with Mary Brummett, Susan Wright. Denton married Jesse Wright's daughter with Maggie Perdue, Eliza Jane Wright and later a second marriage to Mattie Wright. So two brothers and a nephew ended up marrying three daughters of Jesse Wright.

Annie Houston had three other children after the 1900 census was taken: Marion, Melvina and Elizabeth Varley "Betsy" Mullins. In 1906 Annie Houston, while delivering another child died. The child died, too. James was thirteen years old.

I think this is a picture of James with one of his sisters. Originally, I thought it was James and his wife, Cora, but later I figured out that it was not her. The person I copied the picture from has died. Aunt Vera and Dad can't identify the woman but also think that it is not Cora Wright.

In 1909 Joshua Mullins married a second time. In the 1910 census Nathaniel Houston is 62 years old. Betsy is 70. They have been married 42 years. Betsy reports that she has had 9 children and only seven of them are living. Denton is now 28 and married also living with them and his daughters Sillar and Maggie. Also in the household are James, now 17, Melvina 15, Coetta 12, Marion 8 and Elizabeth 6, all listed as grandchildren.

In another household, Joshua 41 is listed as being in his first marriage of one year. His wife, Susan, is 61, in her 3rd marriage. Susan reports that she has had one child who is living.

In 1918 while 23 and single, James filled out his draft registration for World War I in Whitesburg, Kentucky.

On this form he said he was born in Baker, Letcher County, Kentucky. He said he was in the mining trade working for the Consolidated Coal Company in McRoberts.

He did go into the service and fought in France in Company E of the 52 Infantry division. I found this on Wikipedia about the 52nd Infantry Regiment:

  • "After the 52nd Infantry Regiment's activation in 1917, the Regiment was assigned to the Sixth Infantry Division. The Sixth Division was organized in November of 1917 as a square division consisting of the 51st, 52nd, 53rd, and the 54th Infantry Regiments, the 16th, 17th and 18th Machine-Gun Battalions and the 3rd, 11th and 78th Field Artillery Regiments. The units of the division gathered in New York and left for France in July of 1918. After marching and training all over western France, the Sixth was assigned on August 31st to the Vosges sector. There, a chain of lofty wooded peaks had stalemated both the French and German armies. Their mission was the defense of a 21-mile front. The Division engaged in active patrols in No Man's Land and behind the Boche lines. Daily German artillery concentrations of high explosives and gas shells kept the 6th supporting artillery busy with counterbattery fire. In addition infantry platoon strongpoints defended against German raiding parties which launched their attacks using liquid fire and grenades.
    The Division developed its reputation for hiking when, prior to the Argonne Offensive, it engaged in extensive fake marches, often under enemy artillery and air bombardment, to deceive the Boche into thinking a major attack was to take place in the Vosges sector. Relieved and reassigned on October 10, 1918, the 6th Division hiked to an assembly area, marching over mountains and broken trails, usually in the dead of night.
    After another short period of training, consisting primarily of forced marches, the Division hiked itself into the closing campaign of the war, the Meuse-Argonne offensive. In Corps reserve, the 6th was used in place of an unavailable cavalry division to try to maintain contact with the rapidly retreating Germans. Pulling machine-gun carts and ammo carts by hand, the best hiking outfit in the AEF marched from one front to another, usually on muddy bypaths and rain-soaked fields, to establish and incredible record of forty hiking days in a sixty-day campaign. Finally moved to another part of the front to maintain the brunt of the attack, the 6th reached the assigned area on the scheduled date, November 12, 1918, to find the war at an end, its reputation as the “Sightseeing Sixth” assured.
    During its three months at the front, the 6th Division lost 227 men killed in action or died of wounds. It maintained an active defense in one important sector and played a major role in the tactical plan in another. The men of the 6th had distinguished themselves in combat, many earning the Distinguished Service Cross and Croix de Guerre. The Division was highly commended by General Pershing for its contribution to the final victory.
    After the Armistice, the 6th continued its hikes through France and Germany to spread the fame of the six-point Red Star, adopted as the Division insignia on November 19, 1918. This six-point Red Star would become a part of the 52nd's Crest to mark the Regiment's first Combat with the 6th Division. The bulk of the Division returned to the States in June of 1919 aboard the USS Leviathan. "

He returned to Letcher County after the war.

In 1920 his grandparents, Nathaniel & Betsy Houston and his Uncle Denton, and his cousin, Maggie are shown in one household. Denton's daughter Siller is listed in the same household but in the house next door. James is shown in this second house as a boarder. In the next house is Cora Wright, head of her household, divorced living with her "daughter", Lana. Lana is Lonnie, her son.

Joshua's wife Susan died in 1912. In that same year he married Rosie Adams Fulton. They have two daughters Ada and Ida. In the census their household is listed as Joshua 49, Rosa 47, Marion 7, Betsy 15, Ada 7 and Ida 5. Also living with them is Rebecca Fulton, 18, Rosie's child with her first husband, Johnny Fulton.

In 1930 James is shown as age 36 and head of household, married for the first time at age 28 and working in the mines. Cora Wright Mullins is listed as having first married at age 20. Living with them are their children, Jessie age 9, Vera age 6 and J. D. age 4. He was originally put down as age 5 and the census taker crossed through it and changed it to 4. The census was taken on April 11 and J. D.'s birthday was not until April 28th. Later, they adopted a daughter, Anna May.

Sometime in his life, James was a policeman at Fleming/Neon. At the time of his death in 1952 he was working in the mines for the Elkhorn Coal Company.

This is James at the mines.

James Mullins died on May 4, 1952. On his birthday June 22, 1953, my brother Jesse James Mullins was born.

This picture was taken at the cemetery when the family went back after the service. It is one of those tiny little 2x3 pictures. It is Vera, Ival Collier (Lonnie's wife), Lonnie (James' step-son), J. D. and Cora Wright Mullins.

This I blew up from the small picture and it is so different to me than looking at the tiny one.

These are pictures taken at the cemetery in November of 2007.

On May 4, 1952 James suffered a stroke and died of "intercranial pressure and respitory failure due to a cerebral hemorrage."


  1. The story on Pa Mullins was interesting. I was surprised that the tombstone was that small. I remember one large stone with both names on it and an oval picture in the upper middle of the stone. Dad took us back to put flowers on the graves years later and the picture was missing. I remember a fenced in area for the graves and a "babybed" with a cover over the top toe the left side of the graveyard. Emma climbed on it and I was afraid we'd hurt the baby so I didn't. I remember Ma from the waist down that day (Aunt Vera said it was from a four year old point of view). She thought I was too young to remember that day but I remember wondering why everyone was so sad, Ma's purse and shoes and the bottom of her black dress.
    Margaret Mullins Schenck

  2. There were actually two separate pictures on the stones. One on Ma's and one on Pa's. Vandals gouged one out before the fence was put up. Aunt Vera had it. The other was on the ground on one of Dad's visits and he took it. It was in Mom's cedar chest for years. Then Dad gave it to Aunt Vera so they would be together.