Tag Archives: abolition of slavery

The Saga of Big John & Ellen Bullock, The Elders

One day, my late brother Peaches (Anthony Bullock) approached me with a single folded piece of white paper. He was excited. He told me that he had just talked to our maternal grandmother, Jerine Hutchinson-Blueford, about the family legacy. On the paper he had noted some names and brief histories from my grandmother’s  lineage birthplace in Louisiana. I told him that’s fantastic and it was very important information for our family to have. I encouraged him to keep developing our family legacies and turned to walk away. He stopped me. He said, “Ray, this is your job not mine. You have been educated to do this work.”

I briefly if only for a moment reflected about what he had said. I had an A.B. degree in Anthropology. I traveled and studied cultures across the country and a country on the other side of midnight. I give color and make cultures come alive, but I had failed to look at my own family to give them color and make our own family legacies and histories come alive. I took that piece of paper from my brother. I told him. Peaches, you’re right. This is my job. This was my beginning in the search to bring color and life to an Extraordinary and Heroic Black Family Legacy and History.


My grandmother called the institution of slavery, living in the “OTHER WORLD.” To our ancestors, slavery was like living in another dimension. I found this descriptions of slavery most profound. Among our people, those that had survived this most profound and ugly other worldiness and dimension and the great Civil War were other dimensional Heroic.

Coloring and Giving Life to the Heroes of Our Family Legacy

Because of institutional racism and slavery, most Black families lack sufficient folklore and official records to work from in family roots genealogical research. At the abolition of slavery, most of our ancestors were abandoned and lost to the wind, rain, cold and disease with only the rags on their backs.

It is extremely important to our research to identify, locate and record the immediate ancestral post-antebellum origins to give color and life to our pre and post Civil War freedmen ancestors. We have to work mostly from census records to determine, identify, track the roots of our families, and reunite long lost immediate and extended family members of freedmen.  At the abolition of slavery, we can find some freedmen remaining at the site of bondage as tenant-farmers living alongside their immediate family and in-laws; and former enslavers. However in many cases, freedmen were justified  and often forced to leave their places of bondage and servitude without leaving a trace.

The Heroic Elders of the Bondage

John & Ellen Bullock, above, the grand elders of the nuclear post slavery Bullock Family were my great-great grandparents. They were born into and survived “THE OTHER WORLD”, America’s Ugly Institution of Slavery. In 1870, we are fortunate to find John, forty (40) years old, born around 1829-1830, Ellen, thirty-six (36), born around 1834-35) in Marion County, Mississippi raising a family. John & Ellen had to have been big, strong, and remarkably resourceful  individuals to keep most of their slavery era family intact. They not only survived the savagery of slavery. They conquered the wind, rain, cold and diseases that  ravaged our ancestors during this historical period.

In 1860, the slave schedules show a thirty (30) year old male living which is believed to be John subjected on a farm in Marion County, Mississippi, belonging to wealthy plantation owner, Hugh (Hubert) Bullock. The slave schedules did not list the names, first or last, for our ancestors. It just listed the age and gender.

There is further and more convincing evidence suggesting that John had been subjected to bondage on the plantation of Hugh Bullock. In 1880, John Bullock, the elder, was living next door to Jesse Leonard Bullock. Jesse, age 36, was the youngest son of Hugh Bullock.

Consider this further evidence that John Bullock was in fact associated to Hugh Bullock. In 1870, John Bullock was found living next door to plantation owner,  Hosea (Hosey) Davis (Davies), age seventy (70). Hosea was a wealthy and respected early pioneer of Marion/Pike County. Hosea was a close relative of Rhoda Davis Bullock, mother of Hugh Bullock. Hosea must have passed between 1870-1880, because in 1880 Jesse Leonard is living at Hosea’s farm. Jesse Leonard must have inherited the farm as a surviving grandson of Hosea.

From around 1818 thru 1826, Joel Bullock, father of Hugh, Rhoda and Hosea, Sr. emigrated from North Carolina to Mississippi. They along with Luke Conerly, Newton Cowart, Stephen and John Regan founded an early settlement around Waterholes Church, just outside the line formed by the creation of Pike County.

Ellen and John Bullock had to have been trusted, respected, and essential links to the Bullock and Davis families. Little is known of Ellen, John’s thirty-six (36) year old wife. Hugh Bullock’s 1860 slave schedules did not record a twenty-six (26) female on the plantation, so we may assume she and the kids were in bondage at an adjacent plantation, possibly the Ranklin Plantation.  In 1870, Hosea Davis, Jr. was found living next door to his father, John and Ellen. At home appearing to be living with Ellen and John was a white child, seven (7) year old William Bashmon. William was associated with Hosea, Sr., possibly a grandson. The census taker would usually take the liberty to place the white child with his or her relatives nevertheless found in the home of freedmen.  In the opinion of an experienced Black genealogist, she found this situation most usual and extraordinary for its time and place to have a white child living in open with former freedmen. It suggested that John and Ellen were in fact people of “high responsibility.”

In 1870, John & Ellen was living with slavery era children Bynum, age 18, born 1852, Joseph, age 16, born 1854, my great-grandfather Jake, age 14, born 1856, Angeline, age 14, born 1859, and post-slavery children James, age 4, born 1866, and Nisa, age 2, born 1868. For reasons exactly not fully understood at this time, the nuclear post slavery Bullock Family tended to name children after immediate relatives, which cause some confusion. For example, John’s son, James, born, 1866, I initially misidentified him as the husband of my great- grandmother, Liddie Brister/Bullock, when in fact it was Jake’s son, James Bullock, born 1876, that was married to Liddle. There was yet another James Bullock. This James, the Elder,  had been the brother of  John Bullock, the Elder.

By 1880, Joseph and Jake moved on to raise their own families in Pike County. Ellen must have passed sometime between 1870 and 1880, because in 1880, John was found married and living with Mary Davis, age 40, born 1840 in Mississippi. Mary most likely had been related to the Hosea Davis and his plantation. In 1870, Ellen’s race was recorded as Black, but the legend that their son Jake had long black hair like an Indian suggest that Ellen or John may have been in fact  mixed.

In 1870, James Bullock, the elder, was found living next door to Hugh Bullock. James was listed at 38, with his wife Gatsy, age 32, Lidie Ann, age 16, Pearl, age 11, Burrell, pictured above, age 9, Caroline, age 6, Emile, age 2, and Angus, picutered below, age 11 months. Also next door to James was Judy Youngblood, age 55 (born 1815), Moses, age 85 (born 1765), and Crary (Caroline) Youngblood, age 60 (born 1810). Judy appeared to have two slavery era sons, James, age 18 (born 1852) and Berry, age 16 (born 1854). Also listed as living with the family were slavery era freedmen Julie, age 30 (born 1840), Clovina, age 23 (born 1857), Jane, age 25 (born 1855), Lacey, age 10 (born 1860), Rose, age 11 (born 1859), and post slavery Monroe, age 2 (born 1868).

The families, and descendants of  the elders James Bullock (born 1840), and John had traditionally shared and maintained such close ties which suggest that they were brothers. In fact, both James and John were closely associated with  Hugh Bullock. Both John and James appear to have been trusted, essential and important associates of Hugh and his extended family.

In 1929, James’ mother and father was recorded to have been Moses Bullock and Caroline Moses identified by census records as Moses and Caroline Youngblood. In 1880, Moses and Caroline were found near both James and John. Moses listed age was 100, Caroline was now 80 years old. Close to Moses and Caroline were slavery era freedmen Amos Youngblood, age 52, Judy now 55, and Jake Youngblood, age 30. All of them including the elders John and James appeared to be working as farm hands or sharecroppers on the plantation of Hugh Bullock. After the abolition of slavery, freedmen were free to select surnames. Some, if not most chose the last enslaver’s surname. Moses chose Youngblood. James and John chose Bullock.

The Bullock and Youngblood plantations were contiguous. By the 1850 slave schedule, Ben Youngblood had subjected a Black male, age 65, probably and most likely Moses. Hugh Bullock subjected a Black female, age 50, most probably Caroline. It was not unlikely or unusual for pre Civil War/Abolition married couples and their children to live on different plantations.

What is important about Moses and Caroline are that their ordeals record the first stage of classic African forced immigration to the eastern seaboard of Chesapeake Bay, Virginia. Moses recorded in 1880 that he and his parents were born in Virginia in the 1700’s.

Caroline record that she was born in North Carolina sometime around 1800, and her parents were born in Virginia. Her birth in North Carolina represent the second classic migration during the 1780-90’s that forced thousands of Africans and their descendants from Virginia, and the eastern seaboard into uncultivated and virgin areas of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Moses, Caroline, and Julia, sister of Carolina or daughter of Moses, born about 1820 in North Carolina, were part of the third classic forced migration during the 1800’s when again thousands of African and their descendants were forced into Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana to clear and cultivate the land.

Elders John and James also appeared to have been related to Jack Bullock (born 1832). In 1880, Jack stated that he was married, but was not listed with wife on the census. Jack was living with his son and wife, Bynum (born 1852), Jane (born 1855). Their children were Nora, age 7  (born 1873-74), Angie (Angeline), age 5 (born 1875), and Lucinda, age 4 months (born 1880).

In 1870, Bynum was living with John ,the elder, as his oldest son. Additionally,  James, the elder, and (Jim) James, hereinafter referred to as Jim, the younger, were always close. Jim, the younger, was the third or second son of John Bullock, born 1866. John, the elder, passed sometime between 1890-1900 leaving sons, Joseph, Jake, Jim, the younger, Franklin, William, Richeous, and Lucious.

In 1910, James, the elder, was dwelling with his niece, Angeline Bullock, age 26 (born 1884-85). Recall, the same children names reoccurs over and over again in the Bullock Family, which also give us important clues. Angeline appears to have been my great grandfather Jake’s daughter, which confirm that James and John, the elders were in fact related, most likely brothers. Angeline, John the elder’s daugher (born 1859), after 1880 is still lost at this time.

Gwendoly McGowan, Digging for McGowan Family Roots, has excellent resources, backgrounds and pictures for two of  James the elder’s sons that married into the McGowan family in Walthall County, Mississippi. Additionally, my grandfather, John Bullock, also married into the McGowen-McGowan (Ida) family in Wathall County.

Questions or resource information. Email me!


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