The Life and Ministry of Rev. Thomas Mullins

Rev. Thomas Mullins was born in 1736 in Brunswick Co., Virginia1. His father, Patrick Mullins, was born in Scotland2, and immigrated to Virginia in 17283 where he was first documented in land records in Goochland County on 18 Sep 17284. Rev. Mullins's mother's name was Mary5 . We do not know her last name, nor her parents' names or origins.

Patrick and Mary Mullins last appear in Virginia land records in 1754, and first appear in North Carolina in 1756, when Patrick received a grant of land on 15 Mar 1756 in Rowan County, North Carolina, from the Earl of Granville 6. [The certificate states that the land was in Orange County, but the location described can be proven to be in Rowan County - historians have observed that the boundary between Orange Co., formed in 1752, and Rowan Co., formed in 1753, was ill defined in the early years. The grant to Patrick Mullins is a case in point].

Rev. Thomas Mullins entered the Baptist ministry at about the time the family moved to North Carolina, in 1756 7. his obituary, printed in The Star and North Carolina Gazette on 10 Jan 1817, reads as follows:

"COMMUNICATION – Departed this life, at his seat in Rockingham County, on the 29 of November [1816], the Rev. Thomas Mullins, in the 80th year of his age; he had been a member of the Baptist Society about sixty years, and nearly that length of time in the Ministry… He had ever supported an unexceptionable character as a Christian and minister of the Lord Jesus, and whenever he was in company with his brethren would exort them to love and peace…"

Rev. Mullins first appears in land records on 16 Jul 1766 8 when his father Patrick sold 120 acres to "Thomas Mullins his son", both residents of Rowan County. The land was explicitly part of the grant to Patrick from the Earl of Granville. In 1770, Guilford County was formed from parts of Rowan and Orange Counties, and Rev. Mullins was first documented to purchase land in the Lick Fork Creek area of Guilford County in 1772 9.He would remain near Lick Fork Creek for the next 44 years until his death in 1816.

Rev. Mullins joined the congregation of the Lick Fork Primitive Baptist Church in 1778 10. at the age of 42. We know from extant hand written records of this church 11. that Rev. Mullins remained a pastor at the Lick Fork Church until his death in 1816.

It is unknown with which specific church or churches Rev. Mullins was affiliated with during the earlier years of his Baptist ministry. His obituary in The Star and North Carolina Gazette is evidence that Rev. Thomas Mullins began in the Baptist ministry 60 years before his death, in about 1756, and therefore satisfies the criteria as a qualifying ancestor for the Society of the Descendants of the Colonial Clergy. As noted above, he was a resident of Rowan County, North Carolina, beginning in 1766, and in the Lick Fork area of Guilford County (from which Rockingham County was formed), North Carolina, beginning in 1772, so we might presume that he was a pastor at churches in these respective areas.

The Lick Fork Primitive Baptist Church continues in operation to this day. It is in a deeply rural area of the Piedmont (north-central) part of North Carolina, and in the present day has 6 parishioners. The current pastor is Elder David Underwood.

Citations

1Members of the James Hunter Chapter, National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, compilers. Early Families of the North Carolina Counties of Rockingham and Stokes with Revolutionary Service, Volume 2. Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, Inc.,1990, p. 87

2 Caruthers, Rev. E.W. A Sketch of the Life and Character of the Rev. David Caldwell. Greensborough, Swaim and Sherwood, 1842, pp. 151

3Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s, www.ancestry.com

4Nugent, Nell Marion. Cavaliers and Pioneers: Vol. 3 (1695-1732), Richmond, Virginia State Library, 1979, p. 351

5Linn, Jo White. Rowan County, North Carolina Tax Lists 1757-1800. Raleigh, North Carolina Genealogical Society, 1995, p. 78

6North Carolina Secretary of State: Granville Land Grant, Boxes 90-C-960, S.108.252, Patrick Mullen 96M 15 Mar 1756

7"Communication" – Obituary of Rev. Thomas Mullins, from The Star and North Carolina Gazette, Raleigh, North Carolina, Vol. 9, No. 2, 10 Jan 1817, page 3, col. 4

8Guilford County Real Estate Conveyances. Deed book 6, pp. 492-495, Microfilm C.925.40003, 1762-1798 (vols. 5-7)

9Guilford County Real Estate Conveyances. Deed book 1, p. 123. Microfilm C.046.40001

10James Hunter Chapter, DAR, op. cit., p. 87

11Blaylock, J. Burch, photographer. Minute Books of Lick Fork Baptist Church, Rockingham Co. NC, 1786-1828, photographed 17 Nov 1964. Salt Lake City, UT. LDS files.

Rev. Thomas and Elizabeth Mullins, parents of Thomas Mullins II

Thomas Mullins (c. 1772 – c. 1859) was the son of Rev. Thomas Mullins (1736-1816), minister of the Lick Fork Primitive Baptist Church, and Elizabeth _______ (unknown -aft 1806).

The will of Rev. Thomas Mullins 1, dated 8 Dec 1815, names his son Thomas as executor. Rev. Mullins's obituary noted his death less than one year later, on 29 Nov 18162.

Rev. Mullins's will names 4 adult children: Thomas, William, Robert Mullins, and Rhoda Settle (married to David Settle) 3. The will also names 4 "young children" who are under age: John, Francis, Letty and Samuel. Executors are named: "my son Thomas Mullins", and "Brother David Lawson and Brother Cole".

The fact that the Thomas Mullins who wrote this 1815 will was, in fact, Rev. Thomas Mullins of the Lick Fork Primitive Baptist Church, is confirmed by the naming of two church colleagues as executors, Brother David Lawson and Brother Cole:

- The minutes of Rev. Mullins's church, the Lick Fork Primitive Baptist Church survive from 1786-1828 4. Rev. (Brother) Mullins is mentioned many times throughout the minutes between 1786 and his death in 1816.

- The minutes from 1816 note Rev. Mullins's burial on 30 Nov 1816. On the same page, both Brother Cole and Brother Lawson are mentioned.

The fact that Rev. Mullins's son is the father of Thomas III Jefferson Mullins is proven with sequential census records, marriage bonds, and ancestry.com searches. These records show that Rev. Mullins and his son, Thomas Mullins Jr. (1810 census), were the only 2 Thomas Mullins in Rockingham County in 1810. Further, the family demographics of Thomas Mullins Jr. (1810 census) fit those of Thomas II as detailed in his will, and fit those of Thomas Mullins Sr. shown on the 1840 Census. Details follow.

1790-1840 U.S. Census: North Carolina, Rockingham: Thomas Mullins families

1790 Census: Rev. Mullins is shown with two sons at home (Thomas and Robert) and son William one entry below5.

1800 Census: Rev. Mullins is shown with only his wife, no children6 . Son William is again on the line above. Son Thomas II has married Patsy Stubblefield7, and lives separately (in Rockingham), shown on the census8, with one son, Robert.

Rev. Mullins's children and their spouses are detailed in a DAR reference9; the information is corroborated by the children named in his will, and by the census and marriage records in this chapter.

As the biography states, Patsy Stubblefield, wife of Thomas II, died in 1801, and he remarried to Anny Smith on 25 Dec 180410.

1810 Census: Rev. Thomas Mullins and Thomas II are listed on the same page 11, as "Senr." and "Junr." Thomas Mullins Jr. (Thomas II) is shown with his son age 10-15 by Patsy Stubblefield, Robert, and two young daughters by Anny Smith. Thomas Mullins Sr. (Rev Mullins) is shown with his new wife Rhoda, and 3 of the 4 "young children" referenced in his will: son John, and daughters Frances and Letty. More details about Rev. Mullins's wives are discussed at the end of this chapter.

A search on ancestry.com reveals only 2 Thomas Mullin's in Rockingham Co. in 1810, yielding no other candidates to be the son Thomas of Rev. Mullins. One other Thomas Mullins is shown in NC on this 1810 census and on the 1840 census, in Chatham Co. The Chatham Thomas Mullens family does not fit the demographics of the family of Thomas II; further, and Thomas II is shown separately in 1840.

1820 census: Rev. Mullins died in 1816. His widow Rhoda Mullins is shown on the 1820 census with 2 young sons and 2 young daughters12, corresponding to Rev. Mullins's 4 young children noted in his will. There are two additional young adult males in Rhoda's household whom we cannot account for.

The 1820 census shows Thomas II 13 Son Robert is no longer shown living with his father, and may have been deceased, or may be one of the adult young males living with Rhoda. Thomas II is shown with one son, age 0 to 10, and 5 daughters. The son is Thomas III, born in 1816. Thomas Jefferson Mullins (Thomas III) was the only son born to Thomas Mullins and Anny Smith, and they had 7 daughters born between 1805 and 1828 (see 1830 census below).

A search on ancestry.com reveals only one Thomas Mullins in Rockingham County in 1820. There is no other candidate Thomas Mullins to be Rev. Mullins's son, nor Thomas III's father.

1830 U.S. census: The entry for the Thomas Mullins family14 shows one son, age 10-15, and 7 daughters of various ages. Thomas III was 14 in 1830.

A search on ancestry.com reveals only one Thomas Mullins in Rockingham County in 1830, again showing no other candidate Thomas Mullins to be Rev. Mullins's son, nor Thomas III's father.

In 1839 Thomas Mullins Sr. sold 143 acres of land to "Thomas Mullins his son" 15, both of Rockingham County, for $1.

1840 U.S. census: The 1840 Rockingham County census shows Thomas III listed as Thomas Mullins Jr., married with two children : Mary age 13 and John age 11 16. Mary age 13 and John age 11. Thomas III's father, Thomas II, is shown on line 1, still with 5 daughters age 15-30 living at home.

A search on ancestry.com shows only 2 Thomas Mullin's in Rockingham County in 1840.

1850 U.S. Census: The Rockingham Co. census shows only Thomas II 17 , wife deceased, 4 daughters at home, and daughter Elizabeth next door married to Iverson Stacey. Thomas III moved his family to McNairy County, Tennessee in 1846 (discussed below).

By the time Thomas II wrote his will in 1855 18 , he named four daughters: Elizabeth Stacey, Jane, Francis and Susan. Iverson Stacey was appointed one of the executors. We presume Thomas III was not mentioned in the will because he had moved 900 hundreds miles west to Christian County, Missouri by 1852 19 (the 1860 census shows that his 8 year old daughter was Susan born in Missouri), and because Thomas III already had substantial land holdings and wealth.

Summary The documents cited above establish that Rev. Thomas Mullins was "Thomas Mullins Sr" on the 1810 census; Thomas II was "Thomas Mullins Jr" on the 1810 census and "Thomas Mullins Sr" on the 1840 census, and Thomas III was "Thomas Mullins Jr" on the 1840 census. Thus the lineage from Thomas Jefferson Mullins through Thomas II to Rev. Thomas Mullins is established.

Additional line of evidence:

There is evidence of a direct connection between Thomas III and Thomas I, through the children of Rev. Thomas (I) Mullins. Rev. Mullins's children are listed in his will 20. and are listed with their spouses in the DAR book 21.

  • Rev. Mullins's daughter Letty married Ruben Atkins, and
  • His daughter Francis married David Atkins22.

Both of these Atkins-Mullins couples had moved to McNairy County TN by 1834 (evidence below), and Rev. Mullins's son Samuel had moved to and owned land in McNairy TN by 1846.

Thomas III moved his family to McNairy County TN in about 1846. Evidence:

  • In a deed dated 20 Aug 1845 23 Thomas Mullins "of Rockingham County" sold Anderson Griffith 111 acres of land that bordered the land of "Thomas Mullins Senior", proving that this deed was a land sale by Thomas III, and that he still resided in Rockingham Co. on this date.
  • In a deed dated Dec 1846 24 Thomas Mullins purchased 160 acres of land in McNairy County TN from his uncle, Samuel Mullins.
  • Thomas (III) Mullins is shown with his family on the 1850 McNairy TN census 25

The fact that Thomas (III) Jefferson Mullins moved his family to McNairy TN in 1846, to the same county where his Uncle Samuel and Aunts Letty and Francis already resided, is a circumstantial connection between Thomas III and the children of Thomas I. Furthermore, Thomas III had deed interactions with Samuel, and with Letty's husband, Ruben Atkins, as follows:

  • In Dec 1846, Samuel Mullins sold Thomas Mullins 160 acres of land in McNairy County TN 26
  • On 4 Oct 1851, Thomas Mullins sold 320 acres of land to Samuel Conn 27 The deed was witnessed and proved by Ruben Atkins, Letty Mullins's husband. Letty and Ruben Atkins are shown on the 1850 McNairy census 28 Based on the age of the oldest Atkins child born in TN (Nancy, age 16), Ruben and Letty had moved to Tennessee by 1834.

Francis Mullins and husband David Atkins lived in the same district. David had died by 1850; Francis is shown with her children on the 1850 McNairy census 29, born North Carolina. Based on the age of her oldest child born in TN (Susan, age 16), David and Francis Atkins had also moved to Tennessee by 1834.

Summary: Thomas Jefferson Mullins (Thomas III) moved his family to McNairy County TN where his father's siblings Letty, Francis, and Samuel already lived. Thomas III likely moved there because his relatives already lived and farmed there. Thomas III had deed interactions with Samuel and with Letty's husband, Ruben, proving these relatives knew him. These facts comprise circumstantial evidence connecting Thomas III directly to his grandfather, Rev. Thomas Mullins (Thomas I), through the children of Thomas I.

Documentation of dates and places of birth, marriage, and death, and documentation of Rev. Mullins's wives

Rev. Mullins's date of death was given in his obituary30 as 29 Nov 1816. The obituary states that he was 80 years old, placing his birth year at c. 1736. The DAR book 31. places his birthplace as Brunswick VA. The obituary places his death place as Rockingham County NC.

The biography of Rev. Thomas Mullins in the DAR book 32. states that Rev. Mullins's wife was Rhoda Bethell, and that she died 22 Jan 1822.

However, it is not possible that Rev. Mullins had all 8 children by his (last) wife, Rhoda. His first child, Rhoda, was born in 1768, and his fourth child, Thomas II, was born in c. 1772.

Rev. Mullins will of 1815 states that his 4 "young children" were under age. Three census pages show their approximate birth years:

  • The 1800 Rockingham census33 shows Thomas Mullins, over 45, with wife age 26-44, and no children. His son William Mullins is shown on the entry above.
  • The 1810 Rockingham census34 shows Thomas Mullins over age 45 (he was 74 based on his age 80 at death in 1816), wife age 26-44, 1 son under 10 and 2 daughters under 10. He had a 4th child with Rhoda after 1810, Samuel.
  • The 1820 Rockingham census35 shows Rev. Mullins's (last) wife, Rhoda, now widowed, with the four "young children" of Rev. Mullins's will.

Thus Reverend Mullins's 5th, 6th, and 7th children were born between 1800 and 1810, and his last child Samuel was born after 1810.

Even if Rev. Mullins's first wife was just 15 when their daughter Rhoda was born in 1768, this wife would have been born in 1753, meaning that she would have been between 47 and 58 or older when Rev. Mullins's last 4 children were born. This is scarcely biologically possible.

The historical Rhoda Bethell, daughter of William Bethell and Jean Hurst, was born 30 Nov 1741, and would have been between the ages of 59 and 70 or older when Rev. Mullins's last 4 children were born. This is absolutely biologically impossible.

It is clear that Rev. Mullins had at least 2 wives: Rhoda, the mother of his last 4 children, and one or more earlier wives who was (were) the mother(s) of his first 4 children. There is no evidence to support or refute the last name "Bethell" for any of Rev. Mullins's wives, but the Rhoda who was the mother of Rev. Mullins's last 4 children could not have been the historical Rhoda Bethell, born in 1741.

The fact that Rhoda was not Rev. Mullins's first wife is emphasized in the minutes of the Lick Fork Primitive Baptist Church. Rhoda Mullins's death is noted in the minutes on 27 Jan 1822 with the following notation 36

"Sister Rhoda Mullins Wife and Consort of Thomas Mullins Minister of the Church January the 27th 1822"

The word "Consort" would not be used for Rhoda if she were elderly, and were Rev. Mullins's only wife. In fact the word suggests that he "took up" with a younger woman (Rhoda) before marrying her. Further, the word may have been used because Rev. Mullins's earlier wife was probably still alive when he married Rhoda, as discussed below.

The identity of the mother of Thomas Mullins II

There is an indenture from 16 Mar 1773 between Thomas Mullins "of Guilford" and William Davye 37.The indenture is signed by Thomas and "his wife" Elizabeth Mullins.

[Note: Rockingham County was formed from Guilford County in 1785. Surry County bordered Guilford County to the west.]

In the next article, "Proof of Lineage – Rev. Thomas Mullins", evidence is presented that the Thomas Mullins of this 1773 indenture is in fact Rev. Thomas Mullins. This conclusion is also supported by the fact that the minutes of the Lick Fork Primitive Baptist Church mention "Betsy Mullins" several times between 1791 and 1806 38. The minutes never state explicitly that Betsy Mullins was the wife of Rev. Mullins, but few women are mentioned in these minutes, and the name coincidence between Elizabeth of the 1773 indenture and Betsy of the church minutes raises at least the possibility that Elizabeth and Betsy were the same woman, Rev. Mullins's first wife

Given the birth year of c. 1772 for Thomas II, his mother was likely Elizabeth Mullins.

The birth date of Elizabeth Mullins is unknown. Her death would have been after 1806, her last mention in the Lick Fork Church minutes, assuming that "Betsy Mullins" was Rev. Mullins's wife, Elizabeth.

Citations

1 Thomas Mullins will, 1815, Rockingham County NC Recorder of Wills Vol. A, 237

2 Communication, "Death of Rev. Thomas Mullins", Raleigh North Carolina Star, Vol. IX, No. 2, 10 Jan 1817.

3 Thomas Mullins will, op. cit.

4 Minute Books of Lick Fork Baptist Church, Rockingham Co. NC, photographed 17 Nov 1964, on file with LDS, Salt Lake City, UT.

5 Thomas Mullins family, 1790 U.S. Census: NC, Rockingham

6 Thomas Mullins family, 1800 U.S. Census: NC, Rockingham

7 Mullins-Stubblefield marriage bond, July 1797, Register of Deeds, Caswell Co. Courthouse, Yancyville NC.

8 Thomas Mullins family, 1800 U.S. Census: NC, Rockingham

9 Members of the James Hunter Chapter, National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, compilers. Early Families of the North Carolina Counties of Rockingham and Stokes with Revolutionary Service, Volume 2. Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, Inc., 1981, 1990. Page 87.

10 Mullins-Smith marriage 1804, North Carolina Marriage Collection, 1741-2005, on line data base ancestry.com, Provo UT

11 Thomas Mullins family, 1810 U.S. Census: NC, Rockingham

12 Rhoda Mullins family, 1820 U.S. Census: NC, Rockingham

13 Thomas Mullins family, 1820 U.S. Census: NC, Rockingham

14 Thomas Mullins family, 1830 U.S. Census: NC, Rockingham

15 Thomas Mullins Sr. Deed, 22 May 1839, Rockingham Deed Book 21: 283, no. 1862, Register of Deeds, Wentworth, North Carolina.

16 Thomas Mullins family, 1840 U.S. Census: NC, Rockingham

17 Thomas Mullins family, 1850 U.S. Census: NC, Rockingham

18 Thomas Mullins will, 1855: Rockingham Co. Will Book Vol. C, 291

19 Thomas Mullins family, 1860 U.S. Census: MO, Christian

20 Rev. Mullins will, op. cit.

21 James Hunter Chapter, op. cit., p. 87

22 Ibid.

23 Mullins Deed, 20 Aug 1845, Rockingham Co. Deed Book 178: 420, Register of Deeds, County Courthouse, Wentworth NC

24 Mullins Deed, 12 Dec 1846, McNairy Deed Book C: 213, Register of Deeds, County Courthouse, Selmer, TN.

25 Thomas Mullins family, 1850 U.S. Census: TN, McNairy

26 Mullins deed, McNairy Co., op. cit.

27 Mullins Deed, 4 Oct 1851, McNairy Co. Deed Book D: 184, Register of Deeds, County Courthouse, Selmer, TN.

28 Ruben Atkins family, 1850 U.S. Census: TN, McNairy

29 Francis Atkins family, 1850 U.S. Census: TN, McNairy

30 Rev. Mullins Communication (obituary), op. cit.

31 James Hunter Chapter, op. cit., p. 87

32 Ibid.

33 1800 Rockingham census, op. cit.

34 1810 Rockingham census, op. cit.

35 1820 Rockingham census, op. cit.

36 Lick Fork Primitive Baptist Church Minutes, op. cit., entry for 27 Jan 1822

37 Mullins-Davye indenture, 16 Mar 1773, Surry Co. NC Deed Book A: 71, NCSA film C.093.40000

38 Lick Fork Primitive Baptist Church Minutes, op. cit., entries 1791-1806