Tullis Trees

A Family History Newsletter

Volume 5, Number 2

2nd Half 2006

Walter Hercules Tullis
(1871 - 1936)

by Donald and Linda (Tullis) Moran

Editor’s Note: Readers may recognize Don and Linda’s names because they were the Editors of the “Tullis Tracer”, the earlier newsletter that was the inspiration for this newsletter. Walter Hercules Tullis, whose photo is on the cover of this issue, was Linda’s grandfather.


We are very fortunate in that Walter Tullis left a brief autobiography which we have transcribed below. Unfortunately, it was written in pencil, and the paper has badly faded, hence it is extremely difficult to read. In those places where we were unable to transcribe the text, we have indicated with the word “illegible”; in other places, additional information is required to assist the reader in understanding what was written. In those instances we have footnoted the word or passage and offered an explanation at the end of the text. To preserve the autobiographical nature of this story, we have not corrected any spelling or grammar errors.


Written by himself from memory January 6th, 1936

Walter Hercules Tullis, son of Thomas Summerset Tullis and Henrietta Clay Tullis, was born December 23, 1871, 4 miles south west of Oskalusa[1], Iowa on a farm.

His father and mother separated when he [was] about 13 months old, T. S. Tullis was a soldier in the Civil War, his mother went to her people in Mercer Co. Missouri near Milgrove. T.S. Tullis married the 2nd time and had four children, Loran V., Johnie, G. Mary, and Marie.

Thomas Summerset TullisHenrietta Clay Ogle

The parents of Walter Hercules Tullis: Thomas Summerset Tullis (1835-1912) (full-size image) and Henrietta Clay Ogle (1844-1929) (full-size image). The photo of Thomas was probably taken about 1910. The photo of Henrietta is a tintype and was probably taken about the time they were married in 1870. Note that the birth of Thomas Summerset Tullis is recorded in the Family Bible of his parents, Moses Tullis and Mary Summerset.

Mother and I lived with mother’s father, Hercules Ogle, until I was seventeen years old. When I started school at the Cinterrat school house, near Milgrove, Missouri, Mr. Kelso was the teacher. I put a slate from over my head and the teacher caught me. It scared me so I would not go the next day, so the third day my Aunt Julian Ogle took me, but I followed her home and hid all day behind our old shed. [The] next day Mr. Kelso took me up in his arms and made it alright. I enjoyed school very much at noon in the winter we sang songs out of the gospel Hymns and when the weather was fine we played black man, ball tag, Kitty wants a circus, Etc.

We were very poor but our wants were small. If I had Sirgmi Molasses and corn bread I was told that was enough. Once in a while mother made cakes. I remember stealing some out of the cupboard and climbing up a maple tree and eating them. Biscuits and pies were great treats.

Being the only child I played much alone. The Paxten boys I saw once in a while. Bitucker, a girl about 7 or 8 was my nearest playmate. Much sticks and stones and broken dishes was the few play things we had. I also recall daring her to chew tobacco. Grandfather raised a great deal of it. Some half-cured tobacco was in at the time. We each took a chaw and swallowed tobacco juice and all. “Oh, I’ve been sick of tobacco from that day to this”. Thank the Lord for the sick spell. Mother was quite religious, A Methodist, she occasionally took me in the garden back of the smoke house and knelt down and prayed with me. Once when I was about 7 years old I recall going to her and knelt by her knee crying and said “mother I want to be good.” She put her hand on my head and said “God bless you” and I felt better.

In the winter of 1882 grandfather lost the old house. H. Trainor foreclosed on a mortgage and we moved 2 miles west to Modina, Mercer Co., Mo. It was sad for all of us. Grandfather, Mother, Uncle Jasper[2] and Aunt Julian and I lived there until the fall of 1888.

Mother wanted to give me a college education, so she borrowed $25.00 to set up housekeeping with. A wagon bed held all we had, Mother and I and the driver. We moved to Humphreys, Missouri to go to Humphreys college. They had all (illegible) and college. Mother kept boarders and I janitored to make it. I began teaching school when I was 18 years old. I received $20.00 a month for the first term. Taught 6 years. Last school I received $40.00 per month.

I taught at a country school 2 miles south of Humphreys two years, one term north of the same town. One term in Humphreys and one at Liberty, 12 miles north of Humphreys. The last four years we were at Humphreys. I worked as a switcher hand[3] on [the] CB&Q[4],1 summer, received $1.10 per day, 10 hours.

Walter Tullis and his first wife, Ninne McKee
Walter Tullis & his first wife, Ninnie McKee. Photo taken about 1910. (full-size)

I was converted at the age of 18 in the south Methodist church, Humphreys, Mo. February 5, 1889. Rev. B. D. Sippel, Pastor, was taken (illegible) that church there. The Pastor, Mrs. Coon Stringer (my Sunday teacher) and mother was glad. The next year, 1890, I was called of God[5] to preach. It was in Brother J. C. Henry’s house at prayer meeting.

Brother Harry Hacket and myself were seated on a chair turned down. He on the top and me on the bottom. When I rose to tell what a call I had he fell over on the floor almost immediately I backed down and fought the call.

I was married to Miss Ninnie McKee October 28, 1894. She was a good Christian and me a backstrider[6], but Sunday School superintendent, Pres Epiworth (illegible) choir (illegible) member of [the] Board of Stewarts our courtship lasted from March 14th, 1894 to October 28, 1894, we were engaged 8 August 1894.

Her people and my mother all were against it, but God overruled all. It was a blessed union. To our union were born five children. Martha Leila - July 19, 1895; Eulalia - July 19, 1897; Mary Jane - June 17, 1899; Susan M. - 30 September 1902; John L. 11 October 1905.

After “jonering” for nearly 12 years I decided to yield to God and preach. I had gone into the furniture and undertaking business and was a miserable backstrider[6]. [The] Rev. Termey[7] was our Pastor at the Methodist Church at Humphreys, Missouri. He held a revival in January 1892, lasting 3 weeks, no one [was] saved. No more of the kind. With Aunt Millie Lewis, a sanctified woman, and the Pastor’s wife, to fast and pray for me. I prayed and in the mean time my baby Eulalia died in the proceeding August. This was quite a grief. Her coffin was the first that went out of my place. God’s convictions were strong. I had come to the parting of the ways. Rev. Termey without asking me announced me to preach the following Saturday night, February 1, 1902. I finally yielded. I made five conditions with God. 1 - I must be restored. 2 - I must have text. 3 - Preach long enough so I would not be ashamed. The reason for this was, a school mate of mine had just preached his first sermon and was compelled to sit down after 11 minutes. 4 - I must have a soul in the first service. 5 - God must help me out of debt.

The parsonage at Fredericks, Missouri, with Walter and his son John

The parsonage at Fredericks, Missouri, with Walter and his son John standing in front. Probably taken about 1908. (Full-size image)

Walter Tullis Family, about 1915

The Walter Tullis family, about 1915. L-R: Walter, Susan, Mary, John, Ninnie, and Leila. (Full-size image)

On Saturday night, February 1, 1902, I went to church and stayed after afternoon meeting and prayed I could the third time up in the pulpit.

God did restore my soul immediately. The text given: “If the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for the battle”. I talked for 1 hour and 5 minutes. Made the call and no one came. But the next morning, Sunday, a pastor called for testimonials. Old brother Isaac Wolf got up and said the message might get hold of him. Could not sleep, at 4 a.m., February 2, God reclaimed his, so I had the soul I demanded. I owed $5,200.00, God’s aid helped me and I was ready to go to the conference that fall.

End - Walter H. Tullis

Walter Tullis and Georgenia Gehriki

Walter Tullis and his second wife, Georgenia V. Gehriki. (full-size image)

Walter’s autobiography ended there, so we’ll fill in the rest of his life. He became an ordained Methodist Minister and moved his family from congregation to congregation. The Methodist Church preferred to move their Pastors every three to five years. As a result they lived in several places, in Missouri, Illinois, South and North Dakota, Idaho, and finally California.

In 1926, Walter was transferred to Pasadena, Los Angeles County, California. On October 24th, 1932, his wife of thirty years, Ninnie, passed away. She was buried in the Valhalla Cemetery, in North Hollywood, California.

Two years later he remarried to Miss Georgenia V. Gehriki on December 19th, 1934 at Aberdeen, Brown County, South Dakota. They returned to Walter’s Pasadena home. While on a vacation in Aberdeen, South Dakota, Walter took ill. He was transported to the Good Samaritan Hospital, in Aberdeen, and on May 11th, 1936, he passed away. His death certificate lists the cause of death as hypertension and arterial sclerosis. He was only 64. His wife had his body transported back to California and he was buried at Valhalla with his first wife, Ninnie.

Georgenia survived him for many years and was known as “Grandmother Tullis” to Walter’s grandchildren, most of whom were born after he had passed on.


  1. The town of his birth is Oskaloosa, Mahaska County, Iowa.
  2. Jasper, William Jasper Ogle (1846-1930), was a Civil War Veteran having served in Company “H”, 4th Provisional Regiment, Missouri Militia. He had been blind for many years.
  3. The correct title today is “switchman”.
  4. The CB&Q - Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. Parent of today’s massive Burlington Northern Railroad.
  5. Underscoring was on the original.
  6. Backstrider - Backslider?
  7. The Pastor of the Methodist Church South at Humphreys at that time was the Rev. W. C. Tinney.

The Children of Walter Tullis and Ninnie McKee

John Lee Tullis as a babyJohn Lee Tullis as a young man

John Lee Tullis (1905-1966), the only son of Walter and Ninnie. (Full-size image, Full-size image)

Mary Jane Tullis Martha Leila Tullis
Mary Jane Tullis (1900-1997); married Perez Bennett. (Full-size image) Martha Leila Tullis (1895-1964); married Herbert Biggers. (Full-size image)

Tullis Siblings: Mary Jane, Susan, John, and Leila

Tullis siblings, L-R: Mary Jane (Tullis) Bennett, Susan McKee (Tullis) Hall, John Lee Tullis, and Martha Leila (Tullis) Biggers. (Full-size image)

Family Group Sheet

(PDF Version of Family Group Sheet)

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