New Photos of Thomas Bullock and Family Available from the Church History Library

By Jeff Morley, Church History Library
19 December 2023

See four well-preserved photos of Thomas Bullock and his family, including one of the earliest known photos of Bullock himself. 

Four well-preserved photographs of Thomas Bullock and his family were recently donated to the Church History Library by a direct descendant of Bullock. Among the collection is one of the earliest known photographs of him. Thomas Bullock played a significant role in the nineteenth-century Church, serving as a clerk and assistant Church historian, among other notable positions for both the Church and local government. This contribution to the Church History Library offers a small, intimate glimpse into the life of this cherished historical figure.

Photo One – Thomas Bullock

Thomas Bullock, circa 1850

The first of the four photographs donated is a daguerreotype of Thomas Bullock, likely taken following Bullock’s trek west with his family as part of the Brigham Young Company (1848). For more information about the Brigham Young Company, visit the Church History Biographical Database.

Photo Two – Henrietta Rushton Bullock and Daughter

Henrietta Rushton Bullock with Daughter, circa 1860

The second photo is an ambrotype of Thomas Bullock’s first wife with one of their daughters, circa 1860. Henrietta would have been around 43 years old in this photograph. She and Thomas married on June 25, 1838, then later joined the Church in 1841. They had 13 children together. To learn more about their relationship, we recommend the Henrietta R. Bullock collection, 1836-1889, 1914 (MS 5404). This collection contains several letters from Thomas to Henrietta during their courtship and marriage, as well as an image of their marriage license.

The daughter shown is presumed to be Leonore Rushton Bullock as she would have been around three years old at the time of this photograph, similar to the girl in the photo. Leonore was born on September 20, 1857, and sadly passed away in 1862 at the age of five.

Photo Three – Thomas Clayton Bullock and Lucy Clayton Bullock

Thomas Bullock and Lucy Clayton Bullock, circa 1870

The collection’s last two photos (circa 1870) are tintypes housed side by side in an elegant case. The first image depicts Thomas Bullock with his second wife, Lucy Clayton Bullock. When this photo was taken, they would have been around 54 and 50 years old, respectively. Thomas and Lucy were married on January 23, 1843, shortly after Thomas Bullock arrived in Nauvoo from England. They had six children together.

Because of Thomas Bullock’s many positions in and outside of the Church (including clerk and secretary to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, Nauvoo city recorder, and exciseman), he was often away from home on assignment. The letter linked below is a communication between Lucy and Thomas during one such absence in 1868 in which she informs him of their family’s well-being and current need for supplies.

Photo Four – Sarah Lovenia Bullock and Grant Young Bullock

Sara Lovenia Bullock and Grant Y. Bullock, circa 1870

This image depicts Sarah Lovenia Bullock (Beard) and her younger brother, Grant Young Bullock, both of which were children of Betsy Prudence Howard Bullock, Thomas Bullock’s third wife. Sarah would have been around 11 years old in 1870, while Grant would have been 2 years old.

Who was Thomas Bullock?

Church historians and enthusiasts hold Thomas Bullock in high regard because of his significant and detailed work as a clerk and historian. Bullock spent much of his life as a clerk for the Church, specifically for the Council of Fifty from 1846-1882. In 1844, he was called as assistant Church historian and recorder under Elder Willard Richards. He kept meticulous journals, many of which are found in the Church History Catalog. These journals provide a tremendous amount of insight and information into the nineteenth-century Church.

Because of early Church members like Thomas Bullock and generous donations like the photos above, we can all continue to learn more about the rich history of the Church. We invite you to learn more about Thomas Bullock and the legacy he left as a Church historian. You can access records, journals, and photos of Bullock through the Church History Library online or in person.