William Madison Mullins was born to Thomas and Matilda Mullins on the family's tobacco plantation on October 17, 1845, in Rockingham County, North Carolina1. Just 6 months later, his parents loaded up the entire family and all their possessions in two wagons pulled by 8 mules, and a 2-seated carriage pulled by 2 horses, to move to McNairy County, Tennessee2 . William's father, Thomas Jefferson Mullins, had an uncle and two aunts who had moved there some years before, and he purchased land in McNairy County from his uncle Samuel Mullins3.
Seven years later, in 1852, William's father sold the farm in McNairy and moved further west to Christian County, Missouri where he again established a tobacco plantation4. When the Civil War started in 1861, three of William's older brothers joined the Confederate Army: John, Thomas Jr., and James5. By the time William turned military age in 1864, the front had moved far to the South; in fact, James and Thomas Jr. were prisoners of war in Louisiana toward the end of the war6. In the last year of the war, some men joined the Union Army to earn some money, regardless of their sentiments about the cause. We do not know William's motivation, but one day before his 19th birthday, on October 16, 1864, he enlisted in the Union Army, 46th regiment of the Missouri Infantry, in Springfield, Missouri7. He served for 6 months, and did not see any action.
Shortly after the end of the war, William's father moved the family about 100 miles south to Faytetteville, Arkansas, where he bought 80 acres of land from William's future father-in-law, Edward Freyschlag, for $600 on September 7, 18668. The new Mullins farm was adjacent to the Freyschlag property, so William and Sophia Freyschlag would have met around the time the Mullins's arrived. The couple was married less than 5 years later, on March 28, 1871.
William and Sophia continued their family's farming tradition, growing and processing tobacco. In addition, William served as a County Judge in the 1880s, and he periodically entered horses in local Fayetteville races9. His steeds periodically won these races.
Sophia Freyschlag was born in Fayetteville on June 25, 1845. She was first-generation American; her father, Edward Freyschlag, was born in Frankenthal, Germany. The fascinating story of the Freyschlag family is told elsewhere on this site. Sophia was educated at the Sophia Sawyer Female Seminary, in Fayetteville, as was her mother Lucy Hawkins Freyschlag.
Sophia Sawyer was an Indian activist who established her school for Cherokee girls in 1839. The school quickly caught on among the white settler families as well, and had the financial support of several influential Fayetteville residents, including our relative Judge David Walker. A contemporaneous newspaper article stated, "One of Miss Sawyer's admiring pupils was Lucy Hawkins - the future Mrs. Edward Freyschlag. When their first child was born she was named Sophia Sawyer."
Sophia Sawyer Freyschlag was said to be "the beauty" of the Freyschlag children. She and William had 6 children, listed below, including 5 who lived to adulthood. Sophia died of typhoid fever at age 56, in 1901. William lived until 1913.
Children of William Madison Mullins & Sophia Freyschlag Mullins
William Edward Mullins (1872-1944) m. Effie Mabel Francis Landry (1874-1944)
Lucy Gertrude Mullins (1873-1958) m. Hugh Sanders Hayes (1873-1938)
Maty E. Mullins (1875-1877)
Norma Freyschlag Mullins (1879-1958) m. Judge James Earnest Dowell (1876-1967)
George Walker Mullins (1881-1956) m. Hazel Pearl Provence (1883-1970)
Thomas Clinton Mullins (1885-1954) m. Ruth Wilson (1892-1996)
1) Mullins, Paul. "Thomas Mullins". In: History of Washington County, Arkansas. Springdale, AR: Shiloh Museum, 1989, pp. 1248-1250
3) Mullins Deed, 12 Dec 1846, McNairy Deed Book C: 213, Register of Deeds, County Courthouse, Selmer, TN
4) Mullins, op. cit., p. 1247
5) U.S., Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865 [Database online]. www.ancestry.com
6) Thomas Jefferson Mullins, Missouri Civil War Records. National Archives, Washington, D.C., obtained 2009
7) William Madison Mullins, Missouri Civil War Records, National Archives, Washington, D.C., obtained 2009
8) Mullins, op. cit., p. 1247
9) Fayetteville Democrat newspaper, private collection clippings