By John Balch
Despite a pouring rain, 130 descendants of Mary and Leander “Mint” Bullock gathered Saturday, July 28 at in a Howard County cemetery to dedicate a monument to the former slaves who lived four generations ago in the Muddy Fork community.
The event was part of the third annual Bullock Family Reunion, which started Friday, July 27 in Little Rock and was attended by families from all over the country. Saturday’s “heritage journey” included the trip to Bullock Cemetery, located within the Polk Cemetery, which also includes a vast history of slavery in Arkansas.
Until recently, the Bullock burial grounds were located across a fence in a wooded area dotted with primitive headstones. The fence is now gone and a passage way has been cleared to the new monument.
The unveiling ceremony, which also involved acknowledgement of other family members buried in the cemetery, included a Senate citation presented by Sen. Larry Teague of Nashville and co-authored by President Pro Tempore Jonathan Dismang.
“It’s been really fascinating learning about your family’s history,” Teague told the crowd gathered under umbrellas and dripping pines after presenting the citation. Teague also acknowledged event organizer Julia Bullock-Lewis.
Prior to offering the prayer, family member Kenneth McCullough said that as the families traveled that morning from Little Rock in a heavy rain storm he was reminded of the daily hardships of slavery.
“It made me think of the ancestors and the storms they had face each and every day
ancestors – the storms of uncertainty, physically, mentally, spiritually,” he said. “They had to go through a lot and the things we go through today are nothing compared to what they faced every day. We will never be able to repay them for what they did and I think it’s up to us to pave the way and make ourselves better people.”
The monument was unveiled by Jasmine Bullock, Journey Bullock, Kennedy Arnold and Christian Young while Denisha Coulter sang the old familiar hymn “Goin’ Up Yonder.”
The Bullock monument for “Mint” (1846-1909) and Mary (1841-1911) states the couple “were born slaves and lived to be free. They endured the brutal inhumanity of slavery, raised four sons and left a legacy of faith, hope, love and courage for their descendants. This marker was placed by the Bullock family in 2018 to honor their toil and pain and to give their lives the identity, importance and dignity deserved. May they rest in peace.”
Following the cemetery ceremony, the crowd moved down the road into Pike County to take a picture outside of the former Bullock plantation on Muddy Fork Road. The reunion then moved to Center Point for a meal and concluded back in Little Rock.