James Mullins was born about 1863 in Shilo, Harris County, Georgia. He was the third child of the 14 children of Isaac and Sallie (Jarrett) Mullins. He worked on the family farm until some time after 1880. On 27 April, 1898 he married my grandmother Pearl’s sister, Minnie Averitte Reed, in Indianapolis, Indiana. In the 1900 Census he was listed as a fireman and the first of their 12 children, Helen, was a year old. The family lived next door to Minnie’s mother and siblings on Willard. In 1910 they were still in Indianapolis and he was still a fireman. There were 8 children.
The family moved to Benton Harbor, Berrien County, Michigan about 1916. In the 1920 Census they were living in Detroit and Mr. Mullins is listed as a carpenter at an auto factory. In 1930 the family was in Benton Harbor, living on Broadway with various family members living up and down the same street. Mr. Mullins was listed as a common laborer in this census.
By 1940 the family was back in Detroit and you can read about them in this post – 1940, Minnie and James Mullins. Throughout the years the family members were variously identified as mulatto, black, Negro, white and Indian in the Census. Mr. Mullins died in Detroit on July 10, 1944. He was 80 years old and unemployed. The cause of death is listed as “terminal uremia”. His wife, Minnie was the informant. He is buried in Detroit Memorial Cemetery.
My uncle Henry shared some of his memoried of Mr. Mullins in the 1990s. “Mullins was always referred to that way. He was a very stern, hardy type. Admired the Irish. Had the long Irish upper lip himself. A very ‘Indian’ looking fellow. They lived in Benton Harbor and later moved to Detroit. ‘Sir Walter Lipton’, that’s the only kind of tea he’d drink. Rather, whatever kind he drank was that. He’d be talking about only drinking ‘Sir Walter Lipton’, and when he finished, Minnie would tell him, “Oh, Mullin, hush up! You know that’s Salada Tea.” When he moved to Detroit with his family the last time they figured he was 90 something years old. He died one day walking from Tireman all the way downtown. I think he just fell out. Like the old one horse shay, he just give out.”
Henry continued, “Aunt Minnie would talk a lot of trash. She said he’d sit down with a bottle of wine and eat all the food, talking a lot of trash about he was a working man, he needed his strength and the rest of them were all starving to death. All that was Aunt Minnie’s talk. We never heard his side of it. They lied on him and he never defended himself. They never made fun of him because he’d a beat everybody’s brains out. He never found it necessary to say anything. I think Aunt Minnie embellished the truth because I know we went there and tore up his lawn, his pride and joy, and he didn’t say anything much. He had a grape arbor. We (Me, Hugh, Bill and Harold), had a tent out there. We’d get to wrestling and tear up the tent and the grapes and he didn’t say anything. Probably crippled Bill and Harold after we left because they should have known better, we were just kids.”