2008-09-24 / Front Page

John Loftin: One of oldest living descendants of old Bullard

Jim Epperson editor@bullardnews.com

John Loftin comes from old Bullard.

Photo by Jim Epperson John Loftin's great-great step grandfather was Colonel John Dewberry, one of the commissioners appointed to set the boundaries of Smith County. Loftin is pictured next to Dewberry's grave. Photo by Jim Epperson John Loftin's great-great step grandfather was Colonel John Dewberry, one of the commissioners appointed to set the boundaries of Smith County. Loftin is pictured next to Dewberry's grave. Not the new Bullard.

The new Bullard is where the city government scrambles to prepare for development of the new and improved bedroom community for Tyler.

Old Bullard represents a thriving community that was bigger than what it is now with mercantile shops, black smiths and a strong farming backbone. As a tomato and watermelon hub in the 1950s, Bullard was booming along with the railroad that ran the fresh produce out of the area. And even earlier, Bullard sold fresh peaches, plumbs and pecans.

In the 1950s, Bullard was thriving, more than 1,000 people would come into town to visit one of three grocery stores, service stations and shops. It was a farming community with about 300 people living in city limits.

As Bullard approaches its 125th birthday this October, Loftin says Bullard is about to be back on track as he remembered it when tomato shacks lined the sides of the railroad.

Loftin's family, along with the Douglas and Rhome families, were the first families to be established in this area. But Loftin, who is going on 85 years old, is probably one of the closest relatives to the person who made Bullard into what it is today. Loftin's relative, Dr. Oliver Loftin, moved to the area in the 1850s and eventually sold land to John Bullard, who the city is named after.

The Loftin family has a long tradition not just in Bullard, but in East Texas and in East Texas politics.

Loftin's parents are buried just six miles west of Bullard in Teaselville. The public Teaselville cemetery is named after the Loftins. Buried next to Loftin's parents is Colonel John Dewberry, a man who helped shape Smith County.

Dewberry was one of five commissioners appointed by the Texas Legislature to select the boundaries of Smith County. And to this day, the 939 miles that were selected for the county have not changed.

Dewberry moved here from Georgia in the 1840s and married a widow who already had two daughters. Loftin's great grandfather married one of the daughters.

Dewberry is Loftin's Great-great step father.

"The story goes that Dewberry did not have any heirs, so he paid my great grandfather one-thousand dollars to name his son after him," Loftin said. "My grandfather's name is John Dewberry Loftin."

Loftin's grandparents are buried in a different location in Bullard at the Douglas Cemetery. The Loftins married into the Douglas family, which is located on Old School House Road and is probably one of the most endowed cemeteries in East Texas.

Editorial Note:

Bullard will be turning 125 this October.

In October of 1883 a post office was named after John Bullard, which put this city on the map.

Throughout the month of October, the Bullard Banner News will introduce our readers to the Bullard of the past. Readers will meet interesting people who grew up in the booming farming community. They will hear interesting facts about the city, its people and the area.

If you have a story about Old Bullard, please call the office at (903) 894-9306. And remember, you heard it from the Bullard Banner News first!

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