A Family History Newsletter

Volume 2, Number 2

2nd Quarter 2003

Amos Fletcher Tullis (1830 - 1900)

by JoAnn N. Balmer, P.O. Box 1057, Ocean Shores, WA 98569, soarlions@techline.com

Editor’s Note: This is the second article by JoAnn Balmer on the Tullises who were pioneers of Washington Territory. JoAnn’s article on James Wesley Tullis appeared in Vol. 1, No. 2. The current article outlines the life of Amos Fletcher Tullis (shown on the cover), a brother of James.

From History of the Pacific Northwest—Oregon and Washington, Vol 2 (1889), pp. 609-610:

HON. AMOS F. TULLIS. - Amos F. Tullis was born January 6, 1830, at Carthage, Rush county, Indiana. Both of his parents were natives of Ohio, and, having migrated to Indiana, followed farming. At the age of five years his mother died; and five years later his father followed her to the great silent majority, leaving a family of four sons and two daughters, of whom Amos was the fourth child. He lived on the farm of his parents until 1846, when he accompanied an older sister with her husband to Iowa. He resided at Mount Pleasant, Burlington and Ottumwa in that state until March 18, 1852. On that date, with his two brothers, John, now deceased, and James, now one of the substantial farmers of Lewis county, he started with ox-teams to cross the plains for Oregon. They arrived at Portland on the 8th of August. They did not tarry at that embryo metropolis, but started for Olympia, on Puget Sound (then Oregon Territory), which they reached August 27th.

Mr. Tullis found immediate employment in the sawmill of Ward & Hays at Tumwater, and shortly afterwards leased the mill for six months. He loaded the ship Leonesa with the entire result of his occupancy, and accompanied her to San Francisco, intrusting the sale of the same to a commission merchant in San Francisco; but not a dollar was ever realized by him for that six months’ labor. It was Mr. Tullis’ intention with the proceeds of that cargo to have returned to his home in Iowa; but his scheme was defeated by his bad luck. Without means, he returned to Olympia, which he reached in March 1854, and then followed different employments until the breaking out of the Indian war in the Fall of 1855. He was then appointed Captain by Acting-Governor Mason, and with a small command guarded the transportation of the mails between Monticello, near the mouth of the Cowlitz river, and Olympia. Through the continuance of the Indian war, from October 1855 till nearly that date in the following year, he patiently and faithfully performed that hazardous service, much of which required travel at night-time through sections within short distances of the haunts of the hostile Indians.

At the termination of Indian hostilities, in October 1856, he purchased a farm in Lewis county, where he engaged successfully in farming, dairying and stock-raising. In later years, after the Fraser river excitement had filled the mining regions of British Columbia, and the cities of Victoria and New Westminster, with a numerous population, he became an extensive dealer in stock. He engaged in buying in Lewis and the neighboring counties, as also in Oregon, all the stock he could secure, and shipped it to Victoria. In that occupation he realized a handsome fortune. he continued to reside upon his farm in Lewis county until 1885, when he sold it and came to Tacoma, Washington Territory, where he has since resided. He invested early and wisely in real estate in that growing city, and is now among its wealthiest citizens.

During his residence in Lewis county he was generally in official life. He held the several positions of sheriff, county commissioner and also as a member for the counties of Lewis and Thurston in the council, the upper house of the legislative assembly, a body which corresponds with the state senate. In 1880 he was appointed by Governor Newell one of the territorial board of commissioners to build the insane asylum of the territory of Washington, on the old site of Fort Steilacoom, which had been donated to the territory by the general government for that purpose. The building itself, not to refer to the success of that magnificent charity to those of God’s poor who have been bereft of reason, is Mr. Tullis’ best testimonial for efficiency of service and faithfulness to public duty, as also to his broad humanity and utilitarian views. He served in that labor of love for seven years. Let it be remembered, as an evidence of his financiering ability, his economy and strictness of business, that the great structure received entire completion out of the first appropriation that was made. But Mr. Tullis would be offended were not an equal meed of credit awarded to his able, efficient and ever-attentive colleague on the board, George Shannon, the liberal and whole-souled banker of Olympia. To the benevolent labors of those two men, the citizens of the territory must greatly attribute the successful erection of the asylum building, and the prosperous condition and enlarged usefulness of one of the noblest of the people’s charities. [Today these buildings and grounds are known as Western State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital for the mentally ill.]

In 1887 he became one of the county commissioners of the county of Pierce, and is now the chairman of that board. Though in affluent circumstances, Mr. Tullis’ active life must be engaged in business. His leisure from official duties finds employment in looking after his interest as a stock-holder in the Alaska Mercantile & Packing Company. Numerous other enterprises enlist his attention. He is never idle; and all his energies are devoted to elevating the community of which he is an honored member. A successful farmer, an able financier, a business man of sagacity and spotless integrity, - such is very briefly a sketch of the life service of one of the most reliable and substantial solid men of Tacoma.

Amos Fletcher Tullis was a son of Isaac Tullis, who was born in 1796 in Virginia, and Ary Odle. Amos was elected the first mayor of Chehalis, the county seat of Lewis County, on April 14, 1884. The minutes of the City Council meeting on May 21, 1887, resulted in the following action:

Under action on Ordinances, ordinance No 42 Entitled an Ordinance granting to S.P. Westover or his assigns the right and authority to erection-construct and maintain a hay scale on first Street…

Moved and carried that the committee on streets and alleys procure the Services of a competent person to locate a grade of streets for a section bounded by Prindle St. on the north, Alfred Street on the South, Second Street on the West and Pacific Ave on the East including all within said boundary and file a map of said established grade with the City Council…. The following members were appointed as the standing committee for the next year.

Maynard, Chr.
Streets, Alleys, Police: 
Dobson, Chr.

Heath and Fire:
Tullis, Chr.

(Taken from Chehalis’ first city council meeting after they established the city.)

In the Lewis County Bee, July 1884: A Mr. St. John bought a farm from A. F. Tullis paying for it $10,000.

From the same newspaper:


A Fine Buggy Mare Missed From the Pasture

Tuesday, Mayor Tullis entered with a hop-step-and-a-jump and ordered some flyers struck off stating his valuable black 15 1/2 hand buggy mare had been stolen from the pasture. Then the printing was half done, word came from Ira Johnson of Newaukum Prairie that a mare appearing to be Mr. T’s was found near his place. The mare was never known to stray off. An inspection revealed the fact that the fence had been taken down and replaced in a hurry, apparently. Conclusion has been drawn that she had been stolen and turned loose.

Amos was married to Catherine "Cassie" Buchanan on October 9, 1856, in Lewis County, Washington, at the residence of J. C. Cochran, Esq., by Rev. J. F. Devore. Cassie was born on April 19, 1841, in Toulon, Stark County, Illinois. Her parents, George Washington Buchanan and Catherine Hittle Buchanan, and their seven sons and three daughters, moved to Washington Territory in 1853. When George and Catherine Buchanan and their sons Winfield and Thomas and daughter Catherine came to the Boistfort Valley, Catherine was only the second white woman to settle in the area. Their daughter Catherine was 15 years old. Later Catherine married Amos and moved to the section now called Adna where they operated a store.

Catherine resided in the Frank Toby Jones Rest Home in her later years, 1923 to 1927. She died December 29, 1927. The funeral took place at Mellinger’s Chapel, Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington, officiated by Bishop Wells. She was interred in the family plot at Old Tacoma Cemetery on January 3, 1923.

Amos and Catherine had three boys and one girl:

Harley Henry Tullis (1858 – 1900)

Was the most noticeable in the news:

  • REPUBLICAN PRIMARY SLATED: The name of H. H. Tullis was placed in nomination for delegate to Republican County Convention to be held in Chehalis, Saturday, September 27, 1884.

  • Lewis County Bee on Decmber 12, 1884: Chehalis Lodge #13, Knights of Pithius, H. H. Tullis became an officer, being installed the first meeting in 1885.

  • Lewis County Bee: H.H. Tullis has sold an interest in his mercantile business to C.W. Prindle of the wholesale house of Wadhams & Elliot, Portland. The firm will be known hereafter as Tullis & Prindle.

  • Lewis County Bee on October 15, 1884: H. H. Tullis is having an office built between Rice’s furniture store and Prindle’s merchandise establishment.

  • April 10, 1885: it was reported that H. H. Tullis was elected to the Chehalis City Council.

  • October 24, 1884, he is listed as a Clerk of District Court in the County Officials directory.

Harley married Mary Fannie Davis on April 10, 1883, in the bride’s home in Lewis County. They had two children: Catherine (born July 1884) and Harley A. (born about 1892). Harley H. Tullis died in July 1900 in a tragic train accident. (See accompanying obituary.)

Clarence Tullis (1860 - ?)

Clarence seemed to keep a very low profile. He was a farmer in Lewis County.

  • March 12, 1886, Lewis County Bee: Clarence Tullis has started a reading room and temperance billiard hall in the room lately occupied by J.D. Rice as a furniture store.

Arie (Ary) Tullis (1864 – 1943)

Arie or Ary, named after her paternal grandmother Ary Odle Tullis, was born in 1864 in Centerville, Washington Territory. She was married on March 6, 1882, to William Birmingham. Her husband and father were in business together in Tacoma, Pierce County. Her father and mother and brother are buried in the Old Tacoma Cemetery in the Tullis-Birmingham Family Plot. Arie died in Riverside, California, on June 29, 1943.

Harry Bascom Tullis (1927 - 1953)

The youngest child of Amos and Catherine was a crane operator with the Shaffer Terminals in Tacoma. See the accompanying article from the Tacoma Daily Ledger about his retirement.

Harry married his first wife, Sadie, about 1908. They had two sons: Mahon A. (born August 12, 1911) and John L. (born March 14, 1913). His second wife, Lora A., whom he married between 1920 and 1930, survived him.

Harry passed away at age 67 in a local hospital on February 8, 1953. His obituary states that he was born in Tacoma and lived there all his life. Lora followed her husband in death on May 19, 1953.

The Amos Tullis family built three homes in fashionable neighborhoods in Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington, from 1884 to 1933. Amos constructed a building with his son-in-law on Pacific Ave. in Tacoma. It was in an Italianate style and was constructed of brick and galvanized iron called the Birmingham-Tullis Building. The building was put in place in 1885 and taken off the historic list on 8/5/1986 and demolished on 9/17/1986.

The Amos Tullis family, like the James Tullis family, made a difference in the Pacific Northwest. They made an adequate living in a variety of ways, and much of their time, energy, and resources were used toward helping others.

Amos Fletcher Tullis

Catherine "Cassie" (Buchanon) Tullis

Previous: Letters to the Editor

Next: Family Group Sheet