HON. AMOS F. TULLIS. – Amos F. Tullis was born January 6, 1830, at Carthage, Rush county, Indiana. Both of his parents were natives of Ohio, and, having migrated to Indiana, followed farming. At the age of five years his mother died; and five years later his father followed her to the great silent majority, leaving a family of four sons and two daughters, of whom Amos was the fourth child. He lived on the farm of his parents until 1846, when he accompanied an older sister with her husband to Iowa. He resided at Mount Pleasant, Burlington and Ottumwa in that state until March 18, 1852. On that date, with his two brothers, John, now deceased, and James, now one of the substantial farmers of Lewis county, he started with ox-teams to cross the plains for Oregon. They arrived at Portland on the 8th of August. They did not tarry at that embryo metropolis, but started for Olympia, on Puget Sound (then Oregon Territory), which they reached August 27th.
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Mr. Tullis found immediate employment in the sawmill of Ward & Hays at Tumwater, and shortly afterwards leased the mill for six months. He loaded the ship Leonesa with the entire result of his occupancy, and accompanied her to San Francisco, intrusting the sale of the same to a commission merchant in San Francisco; but not a dollar was ever realized by him for that six months’ labor. It was Mr. Tullis’ intention with the proceeds of that cargo to have returned to his home in Iowa; but his scheme was defeated by his bad luck. Without means, he returned to Olympia, which he reached in March, 1854, and then followed different employments until the breaking out of the Indian war in the fall of 1855. He was then appointed captain by Acting-Governor Mason, and with a small command guarded the transportation of the mails between Monticello, near the mouth of the Cowlitz river, and Olympia. Through the continuance of the Indian war, from October, 1855, till nearly that date in the following year, he patiently and faithfully performed that hazardous service, much of which required travel at night-time through sections within short distances of the haunts of the hostile Indians.
At the termination of Indian hostilities, in October, 1856, he purchased a farm in Lewis county, where he engaged successfully in farming, dairying and stock-raising. In later years, after the Fraser river excitement had filled the mining regions of British Columbia, and the cities of Victoria and New Westminster, with a numerous population, he became an extensive dealer in stock. He engaged in buying in Lewis and the neighboring counties, as also in Oregon, all the stock he could secure, and shipped it to Victoria. In that occupation he realized a handsome fortune. he continued to reside upon his farm in Lewis county until 1885, when he sold it and came to Tacoma, Washington Territory, where he has since resided. He invested early and wisely in real estate in that growing city, and is now among its wealthiest citizens.
During his residence in Lewis county he was generally in official life. He held the several positions of sheriff, county commissioner and also as a member for the counties of Lewis and Thurston in the council, the upper house of the legislative assembly, a body which corresponds with the state senate. In 1880 he was appointed by Governor Newell one of the territorial board of commissioners to build the insane asylum of the territory of Washington, on the old site of Fort Steilacoom, which had been donated to the territory by the general government for that purpose. The building itself, not to refer to the success of that magnificent charity to those of God’s poor who have been bereft of reason, is Mr. Tullis’ best testimonial for efficiency of service and faithfulness to public duty, as also to his broad humanity and utilitarian views. He served in that labor of love for seven years. Let it be remembered, as an evidence of his financiering ability, his economy and strictness of business, that the great structure received entire completion out of the first appropriation that was made. But Mr. Tullis would be offended were not an equal meed of credit awarded to his able, efficient and ever-attentive colleague on the board, George Shannon, the liberal and whole-souled banker of Olympia. To the benevolent labors of those two men, the citizens of the territory must greatly attribute the successful erection of the asylum building, and the prosperous condition and enlarged usefulness of one of the noblest of the people’s charities.
In 1887 he became one of the county commissioners of the county of Pierce, and is now the chairman of that board. Though in affluent circumstances, Mr. Tullis’ active life must be engaged in business. His leisure from official duties finds employment in looking after his interest as a stock-holder in the Alaska Mercantile & Packing Company. Numerous other enterprises enlist his attention. He is never idle; and all his energies are devoted to elevating the community of which he is an honored member. A successful farmer, an able financier, a business man of sagacity and spotless integrity, – such is very briefly a sketch of the life service of one of the most reliable and substantial solid men of Tacoma.