A Family History Newsletter

Volume 2, Number 1

1st Quarter 2003

The Family of James H. & Lavina D. (Meredith) Tullis

Roots in Ohio, Branches in Indiana and Kansas

by Jeff Tullis, RR 5 Box 26, Coffeyville, KS 67337

Editorís Note: This is the second article by Jeff Tullis taken from a book he initially compiled in 1996 which identifies over 500 descendants of John and Mary (Burns) Tullis. That family was profiled in Jeffís article in the last issue of Tullis Trees (Vol. 1, No. 4). The series now concludes with this profile of James Harvey Tullis, his wife Lavina Dorothy Meredith, and their children. Many thanks, again, to Jeff for contributing this material.

James Harvey Tullis was born on December 28, 1838, in Wayne Co., Indiana, the second child and first son of John Tullis and his wife Mary. He was probably born at the home of his parents in rural Clay Township, Wayne Co., Indiana. Six months prior to his birth, Jamesís parents had purchased a forty-acre farm consisting of the northwest corner of the southwest quarter of section twenty-one, township seventeen, range thirteen east1 located approximately two miles east of Hagerstown, Indiana. As a young child, James moved with his parents to north central Indiana, locating in the Fulton Co./Kosciusko Co. area, where he grew to adulthood. The extent and nature of Jamesí formal education is unknown. However, based on some of the public offices he held during his later life, one would assume James had completed at least a minimum of schooling available in rural Indiana during the mid-1800ís. According to family tradition, handed down from Blanche (Tullis) Graue to her daughter Betty Graue, James taught school for a brief period before his marriage. Although James was a young, unmarried adult during the Civil War period (1861-1865), there is no record that he served in any military unit during that time. His father, John, had died at a young age several years earlier leaving James, the eldest son, the head of the household and responsible for the welfare of his mother and younger siblings. For this reason, it is believed, James was not pressed into military service. His younger brotherís name, Arthur C. Tullis, appeared on a Civil War draft list in the November 17, 1864, edition of the Rochester (IN) Chronicle.2 However, no record of military service has been located for Arthur C. Tullis either.

On September 10, 18653, James married Lavina Dorothy Meredith, the daughter of Simon C. and Mary Ann (Middleton) Meredith, in Kosciusko Co., Indiana. Lavina had been a resident of Kosciusko Co. since moving there with her parents in 1850. She was born June 15, 1845, in Mahoning Co., Ohio. She was probably named after her maternal grandmother Dorothy (Sharp) Middleton. Lavinaís parents were Quakers just as their people had been for generations before them. Lavinaís mother, Mary Ann, passed away shortly after James and Lavina were married. Since she was the oldest child, Lavina helped her father, Simon, care for her younger brothers during the next few years. Her father later remarried and had more children with his second wife, Sarah.

In 1868, James, Lavina, and their two young children, Fernando and Mary, joined a wagon train of several local families, many of which were relatives, heading for southeast Kansas to take up land which had recently been opened for settlement. Permanent settlement of this part of Kansas by white settlers had been arranged by an 1865 treaty between the United States government and the Osage Indian tribe. Upon their arrival in southeast Kansas, it is said that the families from Indiana found the native prairie grasses to be horseback high. The only account of this migration from Indiana to Kansas was written years later in 1935 by Lucile (Holman) Leonard and her father, G.W. Holman, in their Genealogy of the Burns Family written for a family reunion held that same year. Their account reads as follows: "... the families of George Byrd, John Brown, Jim Tullis, Ike Lyons, Vandegrifts, Gordons, Mullenhours, Stanley Foland and others left for Kansas in covered wagons, forming the caravan at the home of Charles W. Holman in Kosciusko Co., Indiana." Tullis family members that joined the caravan included James and Lavina (Meredith) Tullis, Zane and A. Ellen (Tullis) Russell, and Samuel and Lavina (Tullis) Blue. Another brotherís family, Arthur C. and Rebecca (Cellers) Tullis, had left for Labette Co., Kansas from LaPorte, Indiana, the summer before as part of another wagon train including several Cellers family members. Notes inscribed within the Arthur Tullis family Bible say the family traveled by covered wagon pulled by oxen and horses and the trip from north central Indiana to southeast Kansas took twenty days.

Life on the Kansas prairie in the late 1860ís and early 1870ís was filled with hardships and sacrifices as chronicled in the book Little House on the Prairie later written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. During this time, the Ingalls family (Ma, Pa, Mary, Laura, and Carrie) lived the next county over, Montgomery Co., Kansas, from where the Tullis families had settled in 1868. Homesteading life in Kansas was hard on the Tullis families too. Several young children born to the families just before or after their arrival in Kansas died within the first several years. About six years after arriving in Kansas, the families of Zane Russell and Samuel Blue "starved-out" and decided to return to north central Indiana. In 1881, the Arthur Tullis family sold their farm in Labette Co., Kansas and moved to Jasper Co., Missouri. The James Tullis family remained on their homestead in Hackberry Twp., Labette Co., Kansas, where many of their descendants still live in the area some 130 years later.

James Harvey and Lavina Dorothy (Meredith) Tullis.

It is believed James and Lavina settled on a 160 acre farm consisting of the northeast quarter of Sec. 23, Twp. 34 S, R. 20 E, immediately upon their arrival in Labette Co. However, it appears that disposal of the land ceded by the Osage Indians was not approved by the U.S. Congress until Aug 1876. Finally in 1877, James and Lavina purchased this land for $1.25 per acre ($200 Total). A Patent for this land was subsequently issued by the Land Office at Independence, KS, on 20 Jun 1882.4

James and Lavina had a total of twelve children as follows: Fernando Study (named after a family friend of the same name from Wayne Co., IN), Mary (drowned in a well on family farm at 3 yrs of age), John Meredith, Emma J., Harry (d. at 1 yr of age), Edna Browning, Leroy, Arthur (d. at 2 yrs of age), Homer (d. at 6 yrs of age), Julia (d. as infant), Robert Bruce (my grandfather), and Blanche Della.5

On November 16, 1892, James and Lavina purchased an eighty-acre farm consisting of the east half of the northwest quarter of Sec. 27, Twp. 34 S, R. 20 E, in Labette Co.. This farm adjoined the new town of Bartlett, Kansas, which was established in June 1886 by R.A. Bartlett. When James and Lavina bought this farm near Bartlett, it had a single story home. In 1902, during the months of Aug-Oct, James had this old house demolished and a new two-story, seven-room, home constructed on the same site (see picture below). Levi Middleton, a cousin of Lavinaís and also a native of Indiana, was the carpenter in charge of construction. While their house was being built, James and Lavina temporarily lived in the smokehouse that was adjacent to their old home.

From all accounts James was a lifelong farmer. In his later years, he and his cousin, T.P. Burns, opened an implement sales and hardware business in Bartlett, Kansas. He was also a long-time buyer of grain at the elevator in Bartlett. James served in several elected and appointed positions in Labette Co. and Hackberry Twp.. Politically a Democrat, James is known to have held the following offices: Bartlett School Board Member, Assessor for 1875 Kansas Agricultural Census (Hackberry Twp.), Hackberry Twp. Trustee, President of Lake Creek Union Cem Assoc., Justice of the Peace, Hackberry Twp. He is also known to have served as Justice of the Peace for Franklin Twp., Kosciusko Co., IN.6 In his many terms as Justice of the Peace, James acted as executor of estates, arrested lawbreakers, presided over jury trials and conducted marriage ceremonies in the small community of Bartlett.

James Harvey Tullis passed away at his home near Bartlett, Kansas, on August 31, 1914, approximately one week following an operation associated with a kidney ailment. Lavina D. Tullis passed away shortly after her husband on September 16, 1914.


1. Wayne Co., IN, Land Records; Book X; pg. 229.

2. Tombaugh, Fulton Co. IN, Newspaper Excerpts Vol. 2, 1858-1864, (Rochester, IN: Tombaugh Pub. House, 1982)

3. "Marriage Record for James H. Tullis and Lavina D. Meredith", 10 Sep 1865, Kosciusko Co., IN, Marriage Bk. C, p. 227, Kosciusko Co., Courthouse, Warsaw, IN. Lavinaís maiden name was found to be incorrectly spelled "Monteith" on county marriage index card system.

4. "James H. Tullis Land Patent", 20 Jun 1882 (Recorded 28 Jan 1907), Osage Lands Certificate No. 2708, Patent Bk. C, p. 83, Register of Deeds Office, Labette Co. Courthouse, Oswego, KS.

5. "Family Bible Record of James H. Tullis of Kosciusko Co., IN/Labette Co., KS", (Hartford: Case, Lockwood, 1867), Owner (2002) Jeff Tullis, Rt. 5, Box 26, Coffeyville, KS 67337. Original Bible (in poor condition) personally examined by author. Also, this Bible record has been published as "Tullis Family Bible Records", National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 72, No. 1 (March 1984), p. 50.

6. Abstracts of Kosciusko Co., IN, Court Records; Sep 1865-May 1869; Items from the Northern Indianian Newspaper; compiled by Mary Nichols Ettinger.


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