Sunday, May 27, 2018

Stockton's Very Own Texas Ranger

McMullin Monument at Stockton Rural Cemetery

John McMullin
Born: June 27, 1824
Died: November 13, 1868

One of the most majestic looking monuments in all of Stockton Rural Cemetery is in the McMullin plot. John McMullin was born in Baltimore, Maryland the summer of 1827, and by the age of fifteen he had ran away to Texas to join a militia known as the “rangers.”

John McMullin
Upon arriving, McMullin met someone who would turn out to be one of his two best friends in his life, his commander, John Coffee Hayes, one of the men who inspired the Lone Ranger, and Zane Grey’s novel “The Lone Star Ranger.” These rangers weren’t just any militia, they would soon be known as the “Texas Rangers.”

Said to have rode horses better than even the Comanche (which was considered a compliment), McMullin even won a riding match between the Texas Rangers, Commanche warriors and Mexican rancheros.

By 1845,  McMullin was second in command of a company of Texas Rangers led by Ben McCulloch, a former neighbor of the one and only Davy Crockett. He had went to Texas along with his brother, following Crockett who had left earlier on. The many stories of their adventures during this time period is the stuff movies and fantastic novels are made of, and hopefully in the near future I can share more of McMullin’s life with the world.

At some point during the war with Mexico, McMullin met David S. Terry, who had come down to fight alongside the Texas Rangers. The two became close friends and remained so for the rest of their lives. In 1849, the both of them came to California together.  McMullin went from prospecting, to becoming a cattle rancher, and later to breeding horses. He was one of the first people to organize the State Fair, and he helped found the San Joaquin District Agricultural Society.

In 1856, while David Terry was facing problems with the San Francisco Vigilantes, McMullin stayed by his friends side and defended his character on many instances. And when Terry was facing assault charges for beating up the editor of a newspaper that ran a slanderous story about Terry, McMullin was honest about the affair, again defending Terry’s character,  but at the same time not shielding him from consequences of his actions. In the end Terry was only fined $300 for the altercation.

In 1857, McMullin married Eliza Fleming Morgan in Kentucky. He brought her home to California shortly thereafter, purchasing for her a beautiful home on California Street in San Francisco. They went on to have nine children during their marriage.

The family spent their time between San Francisco and San Joaquin County where the ranches were. During his time in San Joaquin County, McMullin built up a 28,000 acre ranch, and also many commercial properties, including a two-story brick structure that once sat on the southeast corner of Main and El Dorado Streets. According to Glenn Kennedy’s research, McMullin also built Stockton’s very first theater.

Unfortunately, Stockton never had a chance to see what other good things McMullin could have accomplished because his life was cut short at the young age of 44. According to his obituary he passed away on November 13, 1868, after suffering with typhoid for only a few days.

The day of his funeral, it was reported that it was the largest procession the city of Stockton had ever seen. With over a hundred carriages following the hearse to the rural cemetery, one can only imagine it was a sight to see. Interestingly, John McMullin had purchased his family plot just across from his best friend David S. Terry. That was actually quite common back then. To the end, McMullin, Terry and John Coffee Hays* remained friends, and two of  the three are resting at the cemetery just across the path from one another.

John McMullin's life is so interesting and detailed that it would take a book to really explain how amazing his adventures were, especially given the fact he lived a relatively short life. I hope to focus more time in the future to tell his story, and go even more in depth, so that others can enjoy learning about this amazing man buried at Stockton Rural Cemetery.

(Copyright 2018- J'aime Rubio,

(* John Coffee Hays is buried in a humble grave at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland).

History of San Joaquin County, George Henry Tinkham
Lone Star Ranger, Zane Grey
Colonel Jack Hays, James K. Greer
Trial of David S. Terry by the Committee of Vigilance, Charles L. Case
Remembered Men in Stockton Rural Cemetery, Glenn A. Kennedy (San Joaquin Historian, 1968)
Tales of Frontier Texas, 1830-1860, John C. Duval

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