Fourth Ward Councilman: 1863, 1864, 1867
Born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1831 to James E. and Mary (Carpenter) Gullatt, James was an orphan by his thirteenth birthday. The 1850 U.S. federal census found him and his younger brother, Henry, living in Charleston County in the household of Maria Carpenter, presumably his mother’s relative. 19-year-old James worked as a molder.
He married Angeline R. “Angie” Sigwald in 1854 and removed to Atlanta by April 1855 when his name appears on a “List of Letters” published by the Daily Examiner. He likely followed his brother-in-law and sister, William and Amanda Louisa (Gullatt) Barnes, who had moved to Atlanta from Charleston in the late 1840s.
James became “a moving spirit in Atlanta’s volunteer fire department” when he helped found a volunteer fire company called, “Mechanic Fire Company, No. 2,” with his brother-in-law and served as its treasurer. Another early volunteer described the company and its founding:
It was on a Friday night, December 10, 1856, with a cold rain falling, that some ten or fifteen men met in a wooden building, with the steps leading to the second story, on the outside, with a small landing at the top, that stood at the corner of Loyd and Alabama streets. These men, the majority of whom were employed in the Georgia Railroad shops, had met in this hall, by permission of the Masonic Order, for the purpose of organizing another fire company, as at that time there was only one thoroughly organized company . . . . It was concluded to call this company “Mechanic Fire Company, No. 2,” and selected the motto, “The Public Good Our Only Aim.” It was not long before the company was fully recruited . . . .
The company had been organized some time before we received our engine. It was made by Hammond, of Boston, and took time to manufacture it as we wanted it. The majority of this company being skilled mechanics, knew what they wanted, and after its arrival knew if it was correct.
Our meetings were held the tenth of every month, and on the 10th of December of each year we had an annual parade, it being our anniversary, and at night a fireman’s ball, when the festive firemen, draped in their uniforms, with their sweethearts “tripped the light fantastic toe” until the “wee sma’ hours” in the morning.
The 1860 U.S. federal census found James with his wife, children, and brother living in Atlanta’s Fourth Ward. He was the proprietor of the Atlanta Brass Foundry, “[o]n Hunter, between Butler and McDonough Streets” in November 1860 (now approximately here), and he formed a new partnership with his brother-in-law, William Barnes, and John J. Thrasher in October 1862. Called the Confederate Iron and Brass Foundry, they “did a great deal of work in the manufacture of ordnance and railroad supplies.” His brother-in-law and business partner, Barnes, left Atlanta soon after as an officer in Leyden’s Artillery and died at the Battle of Sailor’s Creek “on the retreat from Richmond only a few days before Appomattox.”
James first entered the political scene during the War when he was elected to fill a vacancy on the city council in June 1863. He served again in 1864.
After the War, “the Fire Department was reorganized early in 1866” and James acted as president of “Mechanic Fire Company, No. 2.” He served again as Fourth Ward Councilman in 1867, and his political career culminated in service in the Georgia House of Representatives.
The 1870 U.S. federal census located James still in the Fourth Ward with his family. By 1878 he had left the Fourth Ward for a residence on Crew Street where the 1880 U.S. federal census found him. He continued his work as a molder and associated with several different firms. When he died in June 1893, the Constitution noted that James was “known all over Atlanta as ‘Uncle Jimmie.'” He was buried at Oakland Cemetery.
James and Angeline (Sigwald) Gullatt were the parents of four children: Angeline A. Gullatt (1854–1917), wife of Lyman Alonzo Edmund Redwine; Henry Calhoun Gullatt (1856–1924), a Plumbing Inspector for the City of Atlanta; James Edward Gullatt (1895–1965), a grocery salesman; and Mamie E. Gullatt (1895–1965), wife of William F. Stewart.
Atlanta Daily Examiner. “List of Letters.” April 3, 1855.
Atlanta Daily Intelligencer & Examiner. “Fireman’s Ball.” December 11 1857.
Garrett, Franklin M. Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events, 1880s–1930s. Vol. 2 of Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events. Athens, GA: Univ. of Georgia Press, 1969.
Harrison, John M. “William Barnes, C.S.A.” Atlanta Historical Bulletin 8, no. 31 (1947): 100–104.
———. “The Volunteer Firemen of Atlanta.” Atlanta Historical Bulletin 6, no. 26 (1941): 276–286.
Mitchell, Stephens. “Atlanta the Industrial Heart of the Confederacy.” Atlanta Historical Bulletin 1, no. 3 (1930): 20–27.
Ryan, Frank T. “Mechanic Fire Company, No. 2.” In Pioneer Citizens’s History of Atlanta, 166–169. Atlanta: Byrd Printing Co., 1902.