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McMullan Family History Trip - 2003

1. A Little Background 5. Newton, Mississippi, McMullan Cousins and Cemeteries
2. Heading Out 6. On Through Alabama to Georgia for More McMullan Family and History
3. Texas and My Great Grandfather, William Rufus McMullan 7. Through South and North Carolina and Tennessee and on to Arkansas
4. Leaving Texas and Our Trip to Bourbon Street in New Orleans 8. Interstate 40 Through Oklahoma, to Texas and Home

Newton, Mississippi, McMullan Cousins and Cemeteries

Through the Internet, I was able to contact and get to know Ann Burkes of Decatur, Mississippi. Ann is a distant cousin and is very involved in genealogy. She has been a wonderful blessing to me in learning more about my great great grandfather, Thomas Jefferson McMullan. When we got into Newton, we got a room at the Day’s Inn motel and called Ann and her husband Roger. They were out and about, so they came by the motel to visit for a bit. Later, I called Stephen McMullan, whom I had come to know when Ann and I were trying to find out what had happened to John McMullan’s tailor’s chest (more on that later). Stephen had arranged for me to meet his grandfather, Charles Terrell McMullan, also known as “Mr. Bully”, and more of his family. I met Stephen and his beautiful wife, Eileen in Decatur and went to see his grandfather who had just been released from the hospital a couple of days earlier because of a fall. While I was at Stephen’s grandfather’s house, I met two of Stephen’s uncles, a couple of aunts, and his father and mother. I had a great time visiting with them and finding out how they came down through the McMullan line. Stephen had also arranged for me to meet Melvin Tingle of Decatur. Mr. Tingle is an expert on the history of Mississippi and Newton County. He has built the Okla Museum in the form of a home in the 1800's to show how people lived in that era. He is also currently the Vice President of the Newton County Historical and Genealogical Society.

Roger and Ann Burkes met me, Stephen and his mother and father at Mr. Tingle’s museum. Mr. Tingle showed us many of the things that people in the 1800's would have used in their everyday life. He also knew a lot about my great great grandfather, Thomas Jefferson McMullan. Upstairs, in the museum, was a section map of Newton County in 1846 and I quickly spotted Thomas Jefferson McMullan’s land marked on the map. Mr. Tingle also showed me some documents that showed Thomas Jefferson McMullan had purchased land from the Choctaw Indians in Newton County. My great great grandfather’s land was directly east of Decatur. Mr. Tingle told me of General Sherman’s march through Decatur in 1864 as a part of his Meridian Campaign. Sherman marched east out of Decatur and burned all of Thomas Jefferson McMullan’s (and many other’s) property; his house, barn, mill, slaves' quarters, etc. I asked him what all of the people did when the Union army came through and he said that they went into the woods. Growing up in the Texas panhandle, I didn’t see many trees as a child. The woods in Newton County were a shock to me. I did not know how thick they were and realize how someone could easily become lost in them. The citizens of Newton County would take their families, slaves, livestock and valuables to the woods to hide out from the Union army. If they did not, the army would take their livestock, food, winter stores and procure anything of value from the citizens and then burn their homes and farms. They also poisoned people's wells. Thomas Newton McMullan, a son of my great great grandfather Thomas Jefferson McMullan wrote the following account that was published in the newspaper in Newton, Mississippi many years ago:

T.N. McMullan was very young (14 years of age) at the time Sherman’s army passed their home near Chapel Hill but he remembers that raid with only bitter memories. In describing the devatation and hardships during the Civil War, he compared the Civil War with the World War (the first). The soldier in the World War had a hard time but he did have food and ammunition as well as a home to return to that had not been pillaged by an invading army. The people in the South during the Civil War were about in the same fix as the Belgians were in during the World War.

The Northerners were not content to free the negroes but they would ride up to a house, dismount and began the plundering. They invariably cut up the feather mattresses and scattered the feathers to the four winds. Trunks and boxes were rifled or anything of value seized. Outhouses and fences were torn down and burned. Every animal or fowl that could be caught was killed. When they couldn’t carry the animals away, they killed them and left the carcasses lying on the ground. They didn’t open the doors to the (feed) cribs but knocked the roofs off and tore the logs away far enough to allow the animals to feed.

Every storehouse, public building except the Baptist Church were burned in Decatur. The best homes were destroyed as well as the homes of the prominent Confederates. Captain M. Carleton’s home was destroyed due to the fact a negro informed the soldiers about Capt. Carleton’s position in the Confederate army. But whenever or whose home they made headquarters was not burned.

Mr. Tingle reminded me of two other stories about Thomas Jefferson McMullan. Although they cannot be corroborated by any written proof, they are interesting. The 1860 census shows that Thomas owned fifteen slaves. Before the war started, probably sometime in 1861, he was able to purchase several more slaves at a bargain price, thinking that they would bring a better price after the war. The other story says that the Confederacy was going to build a water powered woolen mill at Lake Oneida near Enterprise, Mississippi, south of Meridian. Because the highwaymen (robbers) were so bad in that part of the country and out of fear of the Union army, Thomas took $10,000 in gold along Chunky creek by night, to invest in the mill. Shortly thereafter (probably during Sherman's Meridian Campaign), the Union army destroyed the mill and Thomas lost all of his investment. The War of Northern Aggression devastated the economy of the south. The 1870 census shows Thomas Jefferson McMullan’s wealth being much less than in the 1860 census.

After spending the evening with Stephen McMullan and his family, I got back to the motel. It was raining and there were huge thunderstorms in the area. Newton County and several others were under tornado warnings and tornado watches. It rained very hard for quite sometime. The parking lot of the motel was flooded by the time the rain stopped. The next morning, I met Roger and Ann Burkes at their house between Newton and Decatur. I had originally met Ann on-line. She sent me some photos of Decatur and some of the graves of my relatives there and she looked up some information for me. She is one of my many McMullan relatives in that area. Ann worked as a librarian for many years at the community college in Decatur and took an early retirement last year. She is a great researcher and has written some articles about the McMullan’s. Ann took us to see Thomas Jefferson McMullan’s and his wife, Rachel Reynold McMullan’s graves. They are both buried in the Decatur cemetery. There were many other McMullan’s buried there too. Then Roger and Ann took us to the Mt. Zion cemetery outside of Decatur. Patrick McMullan,Jr., Thomas Jefferson McMullan’s brother, and many other McMullan’s are buried there. Ann just recently told me that there are at least two hundred McMullan’s buried in the cemeteries in Newton County.

After visiting the cemeteries we drove to the Mt. Vernon Plantation which was owned by my great great uncle Patrick McMullan, Jr. Several years ago, Captain Albert McMullan had some engraved granite markers placed around the county with information about the McMullan’s. One of the markers was placed at the Mt. Vernon plantation. Sometime between the time Ann sent me a photo of the marker and a week or so before our visit, someone pushed the large granite marker over. Fortunately, it did not break.

After our visit to the plantation, we went into Newton for some lunch. Ann had told me that she would point out any McMullan’s in the restaurant but warned me that about every other person that came in would probably be a McMullan! While we were eating lunch, it began to rain. It was a good thing that we had looked through the cemeteries in the morning or we would have gotten very wet.

After lunch we all drove to see Bonnie and Grayson McMullan. John McMullan was my first McMullan ancestor that came to the United States. He was born in Tralee, Ireland in 1740 and came to this country in 1760. He brought with him a chest made of cypress wood. While doing some research about him on the Internet, I found that his chest still existed and was owned by Miley McMullan of Newton, Mississippi. I tried to find a phone number or address for Miley and then found out that he had passed away a few years ago. He had married late in life and never had any children of his own but did have some step children. I began to worry that his step children might have taken possession of the chest and not realized how valuable and important the chest would be to those of us in the McMullan family. I contacted Ann and she began a quest to find the chest. I also began to call members of the McMullan family in the Newton County area. Most of the McMullan’s I contacted knew nothing about the chest and some of them did not know Miley. This is how I met Stephen McMullan. I called Stephen’s grandfather first and he didn’t know anything. Then I called Doyle McMullan, not knowing that he was Stephen’s dad. Doyle told me that Stephen had been interested in the McMullan family history and that he might know something. I called Stephen’s house and had a wonderful visit with Stephen’s wife, Eileen. Later, Stephen and I got in touch. All the while, Ann was searching for the chest and with Harold Graham who is the president of the Newton County Historical and Genealogical Society, they found the chest! When Miley McMullan died, the chest was passed on to Bonnie and Grayson.

Bonnie met us at the door and we introduced ourselves to her and Grayson. Bonnie took us in and showed us the chest. There were a lot of old letters and things like that in the chest. I was amazed to think that it still exists after more than 240 years! Bonnie has a lot of McMullan history in her home. She showed us old letters and documents. She has the wedding clothes of Grayson’s grandfather, William Jesse McMullan. While we were there, Bonnie and Grayson’s son, Shannon came in. His wife, Lori, and two daughters came in later. We had an excellent visit with them and then headed back to town.

Before we left Roger and Ann’s home, Ann gave me a beautiful embroidered and framed Mississippi sign for something to remember my trip by. Roger gave me some Mayhaw jelly. I have heard of Mayhaw but have never tasted it. The people in Mississippi were some of the nicest people I have ever met. They all made me feel right at home and like part of their families

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