James T. Mullen

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James T. Mullen
James T. Mullen.jpg
Born(1843-08-30)30 August 1843
Died6 July 1891(1891-07-06) (aged 47)
New Haven, Connecticut
TitleSupreme Knight
of the Knights of Columbus
Successor John J. Phelan

James Terrance Mullen (August 30, 1843 – July 6, 1891) was the first Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus from February 2, 1882 to May 17, 1886. He also served in the New Haven, Connecticut police and Fire Departments, and as an alderman. With his service in the Union Army and in several fraternal orders, he has been described as "veteran of fraternity." [1]

Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus

The Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus is the chief executive officer and chairman of the board of the Knights of Columbus, the world's largest Catholic family fraternal service organization. He leads more than 1.8 million members in more than 14,000 councils and oversees over $77 billion of life insurance in force, as of 2013.

Knights of Columbus Catholic fraternal service organization

The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organization. Founded by Michael J. McGivney in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1882, it was named in honor of the explorer Christopher Columbus. Originally serving as a mutual benefit society to working-class and immigrant Catholics in the United States, it developed into a fraternal benefit society dedicated to providing charitable services, including war and disaster relief, actively defending Catholicism in various nations, and promoting Catholic education. The Knights also support the Catholic Church's positions on public policy issues, including various political causes, and are participants in the new evangelization. The current Supreme Knight is Carl A. Anderson.

New Haven, Connecticut City in Connecticut, United States

New Haven is a coastal city in the U.S. state of Connecticut. It is located on New Haven Harbor on the northern shore of Long Island Sound in New Haven County, Connecticut, and is part of the New York metropolitan area. With a population of 129,779 as determined by the 2010 United States Census, it is the second-largest city in Connecticut after Bridgeport. New Haven is the principal municipality of Greater New Haven, which had a total population of 862,477 in 2010.


Personal life

Mullen was born in New Haven, Connecticut, U.S. on August 30, 1843, [2] and attended the public schools there. [3] He married Anne Elizabeth Pigott, the sister of Congressman James P. Pigott. [2] [4] They had one son. [2] His nephew, William P. Cronan, served as the 19th Naval Governor of Guam. [5]

James P. Pigott American politician

James Protus Pigott was a U.S. Representative from Connecticut.

William P. Cronan 19th Naval Governor of Guam

William Pigott Cronan was an United States Navy Captain who served as the 19th Naval Governor of Guam. During his tenure in the Navy, he became decorated, commanded a number of ships, and came to be known as "the most popular man in the Navy". He participated in the Battle of Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish–American War. In 1903, he gained some attention for his participation in the rescue of a Venezuelan fisherman off the coast of La Guaira under bad conditions. Both the Venezuelan government and navy command praised him for the way he carried out the operation. He became a national news story in 1907 while serving aboard USS Connecticut during a training operation. When a gun nearly exploded because of leaking powder; he shoved his hand into the gun's breechblock, preventing the explosion and losing two of his fingers in the process.

Knights of Columbus

Mullen was one of the original members of the Knights of Columbus. [1] He joined on February 2, 1882. [6] When Father Michael McGivney first conceived of creating the Order, he proposed the name the Sons of Columbus. [7] Mullen instead suggested using Knights instead of Sons to better exemplify the ritualistic nature of the nascent organization. [2] [7] [8]

Mullen credited McGivney's "indomitable will" for the success of the Order. [9] As Supreme Knight, he installed the officers of other councils, including Silver City Council No. 2 on May 16, 1883, in Meriden, Connecticut. [10] On the train ride to Meriden, Mullen assigned Daniel Colwell the responsibility of devising the installation ceremony. [11] As Supreme Knight, Mullen supported the expansion of the Order outside of Connecticut, a contentious issue at the time. [12]

Meriden, Connecticut City in Connecticut, United States

Meriden is a city in New Haven County, Connecticut, United States, located halfway between the regional cities of New Haven and Hartford. In 2010, the population of the city was 60,868.

Colwell and Mullen joined McGivney in presenting the ceremonials of the Order to Bishop Lawrence McMahon of the Diocese of Hartford to ensure they were acceptable for a Catholic organization. [11] Enthusiasm for the degree work led to calls to create a fourth degree, and Mullen supported creating a fifth. [13]

Lawrence Stephen McMahon Catholic bishop

Lawrence Stephen McMahon was a Canadian-born prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Hartford from 1879 until his death in 1893.

With two councils established, Mullen presided over the Supreme Convention on June 15, 1883. [14] At this convention he was appointed to a committee of one to design an emblem for the Order. [15] [2] [8] At a later convention, he was appointed to a committee to draft a resolution honoring Fr. McGivney. [16]

In 1886, Mullen was reelected Supreme Knight, but declined the appointment on May 17, 1886. [17] [18] He did, however, accept the newly created position of Director General of Ceremonies, [18] a position he held until his death in 1891. [19]

Other fraternal activities

In 1874, Mullen suggested the creation of a social organization that came to be known as the Red Knights. [20] He served as their Supreme Knight from 1875 to their disbanding in 1880. [7] [2] [1] He was also a Knight of St. Patrick [2] and an amateur actor in local theatrical productions. [21]

Civil War

Mullen enlisted in the 9th Connecticut Infantry Regiment on September 11, 1861 and served as a sergeant in the Civil War. [2] [8] [1] [3] He took part in digging Grant's Canal. [2] [8] He became ill, however, and was discharged on December 27, 1862. [2] [8] [3] He later became a leader of the Sarsfield Guards, an Irish Catholic militia organization that later became a part of the Connecticut National Guard. [2] [20] [1]

Career and public service

Following the Civil War, Mullen became a police lieutenant in New Haven. [2] [3] For 13 years, he was fire commissioner in the New Haven Fire Department and was president of the board for several years. [2] [3] He also served as a Alderman for the City of New Haven. [2]

He became a successful businessman [2] following his apprenticeship painting ornamental signs he became a commercial traveler. [3] He formed a partnership with G.W.M. Reed and assumed full control of the company in 1884. [3] He ran this company until his death. [3]


James Mullen died July 6, 1891. [2] He is buried in New Haven's St. Bernard’s Cemetery. [2]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Koehlinger 2004.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Larkin, Robert. "Soldiers Stories Sgt James T. Mullen" . Retrieved August 12, 2018.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 O'Neill 1908, p. 54.
  4. "James Protus Pigott, B.A. 1878". Obituary record of graduates of Yale University. New Haven, CT: Yale University. pp. 1413–1414.
  5. "Cronan's Heroism Prevented Explosion". The Meriden Daily Journal. Meriden, Connecticut. 21 October 1907. p. 3. Retrieved 10 June 2011.
  6. Kauffman 1982, p. 18.
  7. 1 2 3 Kauffman 1982, p. 16.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 Scalisi, Patrick (November 10, 2011). "The Order's First Veteran". Knights of Columbus. Retrieved August 12, 2018.
  9. Kauffman 1982, p. 25.
  10. Kauffman 1982, p. 32.
  11. 1 2 Kauffman 1982, p. 33.
  12. Kauffman 1982, p. 52.
  13. Kauffman 1982, p. 137.
  14. Kauffman 1982, p. 34.
  15. Kauffman 1982, pp. 34–35.
  16. Kauffman 1982, p. 45.
  17. Kauffman 1982, p. 1.
  18. 1 2 Kauffman 1982, p. 61.
  19. Kauffman 1982, p. 81.
  20. 1 2 Kauffman 1982, p. 10.
  21. Kauffman 1982, p. 35.