When a chubby little boy was born to Thomas P. Mullins and Nannie E. Mullins, in Granbury on March 14, 1876, they named him Thomas Patrick Mullins, Jr. Thomas Patrick Sr. died when Thomas Patrick Jr. was only sixteen, he was not generally known as a junior. Your author speaks of him as being chubby because, from the time when he first knew him, about 1902, Tom was on the roly poly side, and as he grew older he was definitely very roly poly.
The story is told here Tom and some friends went to Cleburne and ate at a restaurant that advertised “All you can eat for $1.00.” Tom and his friends took them up on the proposition and they ate everything they had, they ate the cupboard bare. They paid them the agreed price of $1.00 just as they had advertised. However, as a gesture of goodwill they paid them a proper amount for what they had consumed.
Another story is told about how Tom liked to eat. Once when he was in Tidwell’s restaurant, someone challenged him to eat a two pound steak, together with the potatoes, gravy and bread that were served with It. Tom accepted the challenge and when he had finished all the steak, potatoes, gravy and bread, the man paid for it. Then Tom gave him another challenge. He said to him,“If you will pay for another order just like the one I have just eaten, I will eat it, but if I cannot eat it I will pay for it.” The man agreed to pay for another order if Tom would eat it. It was prepared, and Tom began eating, and soon the second order disappeared into the same place the first one did. For the second time the man paid the bill. Tom liked to eat. He liked good food and plenty of it. Now we know why Tom always had a good sized stomach, he always used it a lot and kept it full.
Once when Tom was constable, he and Sam Rash went out to bring in a man who had become insane. When he and Sam came to the man’s house, he met them with a double barreled shotgun with both barrels cocked. Tom said he got behind something he thought might give him some protection, but Sam Rash just stood squarely before the man and began to talk to him. Tom said the object he had jumped behind covered him pretty well, that is, all except his stomach, which, so it seemed to him, stood out bigger and broader than it had ever done before, and he knew if that man pulled the triggers of that shotgun his stomach would be one place he could not miss. He says that Sam made a good talk, and they got their man and brought him in.
The story is told that Chevis Cleveland, when his first son was born, telephoned his mother to tell her the good news. When his mother asked him who the baby looked like, Chevis replied, “He looks like Tom Mullins.” So we conclude that Chevis’ baby was chubby too, like Tom Mullins.
Tom squeezed in considerable schooling in the public schools of Granbury during his busy life. He was one of the “older children,” when his father died. As those older than he got married or left home to work elsewhere, Tom became one of the main supporters of the family. He was faithful to the task. Tom never married, never went far from home to work, but stayed at home and earned a good portion of the living for his mother and the other children.
Tom Mullins began at an early age to buy and sell cattle. He became well known as a cattleman throughout the county and some of the adjoining counties. Many times your author has seen Tom and the author’s father bring in the cattle Tom had bought. Your author also remembered the last herd of longhorn cattle driven into Granbury. It was about 1901 or 1902. It was a fairly large herd, the horns were long, and they were driven in from the west on the Tolar road coming into Granbury on West Pearl Street. I do not know who it was that drove them in. About where the public school stands now they cut over to the northeast and were driven on down to the railroad stockyards over that way.
It was in 1901 that Tom got into a shooting scrape with Nat Tracy. Tom was constable at the time. This was many years before he became sheriff. The shooting occurred at the Aston Landers Saloon, which was located on the north side of the square. Nat Tracy was one of three brothers in the county, Net, Berry and Byrd. Byrd was killed in some difficulty that occurred. Nat and Berry were good natured fellows when they were sober, but, unfortunately, they were not always sober, too many times it was the other way around. They had had some difficulty with Tom out at a picnic at Thorp Springs at one time. On this particular day in 1901, in July of that year, Tom went into the saloon and Nat challenged him with a gun. Tom told him that he was unarmed and did not have his gun with him, but if he would wait he would go and get his gun and they could have it out. Tom went home for his gun, and when he returned and came through the saloon door, Nat opened fire on him and Tom returned the fire. Tom did not hit Nat, but one of Nat’s bullets hit Tom in the leg and several stray shots went on through the front door and out towards the court house. Then a strange accidental shot happened. G.C. Rothell, brother of Willburn H. Rothell, had just untied his horse and was placing his foot in the stirrup to mount when one of Nat’s stray bullets hit him in the private parts. The horse had been tied to the old chain fence around the courthouse yard.
After he was hit, Rothell left the horse and started to walk towards the stores on the north side of the square, but fell before he had taken many steps. Louis D. Shoemaker happened to be standing nearby and saw him fall. Some men picked him up and carried him into the store known as the Blue Front. Drs. Lancaster and Walker were called and came quickly and treated him. It was thought at the time that Rothell was completely emasculated, but evidently not, as he later become the father of five or six children. In examining some of the old jail records I found where Nat Tracy was put in jail on July 7th, 1901 and charged with “assault to murder.” Rothell was laid up for some time, but recovered. Tom also recovered from the wound in his leg.
Tom Mullins was a very familiar figure to those living on West Pearl or West Bridge streets. It was seldom that a day passed that he did not ride on his horse up and down one of those streets, either going out to buy cattle, or, to town to find one of his favorite “parking” places on the square. He, with other men, usually sat on the curb, or on a board seat which was nailed up between two awning posts in front of J.R. Morris’ hardware store on the west side of the square. Where they “parked” was more or less governed by the temperature, the amount of shade, and whether or not it was rainy weather or dry. On his way to town via West Pearl Street, he passed by my father’s house on West Pearl, and many times would stop and talk with my father. When your author and his family were home on furlough from China, if Tom stopped to talk with my father, he would sometimes let our little girl who was eight or nine years old, ride his horse, which, of course, pleased her very much.
Tom was usually surrounded by a group of cronies or some boys listening to his stories. This group usually gave their tongues plenty of exercise, either by much talk, or, if nothing else, just rolling a quid of tobacco in their mouth with their tongue. Near where they sat you could usually find some fine white pine shavings from some white pine board they had been whittling on with their pocket knives. Those who were talkers would rehash the town gossip or would tell tall tales of the past and dissect the news of the day.
Tom was quite a story teller. Many times you might see a group of boys sitting with him listening to his stories. Many of his stories were based on the experiences of his grandfather, Edward S. Terrell, one of the earliest settlers of Ft. Worth. His mother told him stories of those early days, and he retold them many times. There was also the time when his father had some livestock stolen from him by the Indians. Mrs. A.B. Crawford tells about one of the children who had been listening to Tom’s tall tales, said to his father, “Does Mr. Tom always tell the truth?”
One story is told of something that happened to Tom during his later years when he was so fat he could not get around quite as nimbly as formerly. It ran something like this: “Het” Smith, who was quite a character among both colored and white people, was passing on the sidewalk just back of where Tom and some of his friends were sitting on the square. She was carrying her walking stick as usual. One of the men sitting near Tom, secretly picked up Tom’s walking stick, and, poking Het with it, quickly returned it to Tom’s side. Het, thinking for sure it was Tom who had poked her with his stick, she reacted quickly. Using her own stick she began to frail Tom with it in good fashion. Due to his excess poundage, as well as his age, Tom could not get up and get out of her way, so he got a pretty good flailing before he could get away from her. The laugh was on Tom. He had played many tricks on the colored folks, but this time the joke was on Tom.
Sheriff Tom Mullins (right), pictured with John Formwalt,
was one of the most colorful sheriffs Hood County ever had.
Tom Mullins was elected sheriff of Hood County and served for two terms, from 1912-1916 [should be 1914-1918]. His election was greeted by some with some misgivings, as they feared Tom might favor those who liked their liquor too much, although few people ever saw Tom when he was drunk. Tom drank, but he “held his liquor well” as they say. However, in spite of these fears, Tom Mullins proved to be an excellent sheriff, and was popular as the sheriff of Hood County. He had a colorful career as sheriff, and many interesting incidents might be told that happened during his term of office.
One strongly political hassle came about in this way. Dr. S.T.R. Green, a dentist, had an upstairs office in the two story building diagonally across from the First National Bank. Dr. Green was a strong Republican. Another prominent Republican was Henry Zweifel. Henry was the leader of the group that took one side of certain issues before the Republican Party at that time, and Dr. Green was the leader of a group who held a different view. Both groups wanted to send delegates to the convention. Trot Green called for all Republicans to meet at his office on a certain evening. He and one or two of his close associates went to the meeting place early to get things ready for the meeting and to greet the party members when they came. They waited, and waited, but no one came. The meeting of the other Republican group was to be held at another place, but at the same time. As those who had expected to attend Dr. Green’s meeting came to this foot of the stairway leading up to his office, Tom was standing there, quietly directing them to go to the other meeting. As a result Dr. Green’s meeting had no Republicans in attendance, and therefore did not elect any delegates. The other group of Republicans had a full attendance and duly elected their delegates. Tom helped his friend Henry to have a full attendance at his meeting.
When Henry Zweifel was U.S. District Attorney in Fort Worth, Tom Mullins was appointed as deputy district U.S. Marshall. When certain issues began to get pretty hot, the U.S. District Attorney needed someone he could trust to act as bodyguard around his office. Thomas P. Mullins, Jr. was chosen to fill the position, and Tom was faithful to his duties and responsibilities. Tom was Deputy U.S. Marshall from 1921-1922. During that time the famous trial of Dr. Frederick A. Cook, at one time connected with a polar expedition of discovery to the North Pole, was held. He was charged with manipulation of certain real estate transactions. The trial resulted in his conviction and sentence to a term in the penitentiary. When the time came to take Dr. Cook to prison, it was U.S. Deputy Marshall Thomas Patrick Mullins, who escorted him to Leavenworth.
Albert Porter tells how Tom was very fond of wild duck. Whenever Albert killed any wild ducks he would bring some and give them to Tom, and he always appreciated them very much. Albert lived near the river, and so wild ducks were plentiful out his way.
Tom had an exterior manner that was considered by some to be on the rough and ready side. But Tom was really polite and courteous in the real old fashioned way. He had a keen understanding of what was going on, and he had a strong sense of being faithful in maintaining things in an orderly way.
When the new bridge that spans the Brazos River, just east of town and parallel with the railroad bridge, was opened, quite a celebration was planned for the opening. The event was well advertised and when the big day came, some ten thousand people assembled to witness and take part in the ceremonies. On June 8th, 1933 a mile long parade was formed to go out to where the celebration was to be held. Thomas P. Mullins was asked to lead the parade, riding his big white horse at its head.
Tom never married, but continued to live at 1030 West Pearl with his mother, his brother Sam and Sam’s daughter Alleene. The love and respect manifested by the sons and daughters of Nannie E. Mullins during her long life of 96½ years is a good example of family unity. Grandma Mullins died August 5, 1944. Thomas Patrick Jr. passed to his rest on July 26, 1946, surviving his mother about two years. Tom’s funeral service was held in the Granbury First Methodist Church with the pastor, Rev. Van Morrison conducting the service. The pallbearers at this service were the following old friends:
Jake Green, J.D. McCoy, W.D. Gardner, A.B. Crawford, Henry Zweifel, and Grady Clark. He was laid to rest in the family burial plot in the Granbury Cemetery.