A brief biography of James (Bull) Mortimer

Grandpa James was born Aug. 27, 1833 in the town of Broughton-Gifford, County of Wiltshire, in west England. His parents were Abraham and Sarah (or Ann) Bull. He had three sisters: Sarah, Elizabeth and Ruth. His brothers were Jacob, John, Samuel and Abraham.

The birthplace had two stories and was built of stone. It had a red tile roof. Out from the house was a nice garden. A brook called the Avon flowed a few rods in front. Beyond the brook was a cemetery enclosed by a fence. And beyond the cemetery was the church the family attended. It was built before Columbus sailed for America. As you would go on toward the center of town, you would pass a tavern and then a grade school. As Grandpa James grew up he must have had at least a grade school education.

The church they attended belonged to the Church of England. They always sat in the same pew and that was the one farthest back.

When he was around 20, he took a sailing ship to America. My father told me that it took them many days to cross to the New World. Their sister, Sarah and two brothers: John and Samuel must have come on the same ship. Accompanying them was a first cousin, Simeon. Grandpa may have brought his bride also. Her name was Margaret O'Toole. There must have been another marriage about that time. Their sister, Sarah, married their first cousin Simeon. (I think this couple were the only ones to go back to England for a visit.)

They came to Wisconsin just after it became a state, they settled in what is now called Mortimer Valley. John and my grand-father, James, bought farms adjacent to each other. (I was born in the house that John built.) John wrote a letter to his father in England and the date on it was 1861. He remarked that the country was close to fighting a Civil War.

Grandpa lost his first wife in 1871. When she was dying she asked for the Catholic Priest, but Grandpa wouldn't consent to have the priest come. Finally she gave in and let a Protestant minister come and pray with her. At that time they had five children--Margaret, Sarah, Elizabeth, Mary and George.

After her death, he soon married Melanda Holderman who had come to Wis. with her family from Indiana. Nate was the first child born to the second family. Then followed my father, then Ruth, Frank, Matilda, Tressie and Glenn. Two or three girls died before they grew up.

My pa often told that Grandpa was always the one to meet out punishment. He would unbuckle his belt and pull it out as quick as lightning. My pa was rather mischievous when he was a boy so I suppose he got the belt lashing more than the others. I remember one episode: He found a big nest of eggs and took them out and threw them against the log barn. Mother came out to see what he did and then said, "You wait till your father comes home." he told mother, "Ah, you'll forget it." She often did forget but not this time.

Grandpa's weakness was cheese, no matter how rare. My pa thought that this led to his death. He died Nov. 19, 1896 at the age 63.

One of his most famous decendants was a grandson, Will G. Ballentine, Superintendent of the Menomonie Schools for many years.

Written by his grandson, J. G. M.

I believe ( J. G. M.) is John Gilbert Mortimer.
This was given to me (Sheryl Osborn) by Gail and Clarice (Bier) Jackson.
I don't beleive all of this information is correct. I don't think that James, John, Samuel, Simeon and Sarah all came over at the same time. Also Simeon and Sarah were married before they left England. And both James and John's signed there wills with X's.

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