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James Porter McMullen, the youngest son of Archibald and Mary Dunlap McMullen, was born in Abbeville District, South Carolina, July 21, 1811. His parents were members of the Associate Reformed Church. He moved to Alabama sometime before 1833 and attended the Manual Labor School near Marion, Alabama during the years 1834-35. He taught Sabbath School, a five-mile distance from his home, which he had to walk. 

He graduated honorably from Franklin College in Athens, GA and came to Greene Co., AL where he married Miss Martha Leonore Fulton.

He studied theology and was licensed by Tuscaloosa Presbytery in 1841. After pastoring several churches in Greene County, he began serving Bethesda Presbyterian in Benevola and Pleasant Ridge in Greene County. He was a well- respected minister at Bethesda and a plaque hangs in his honor in the church today.

During the latter part of the Civil War, Rev. McMullen left his church, family and friends to work as a missionary in the field. He worked night and day for three months to comfort the afflicted and save souls. He said they were the happiest days of his life for God gave him many souls to save. He preached in line of battle just on the eve of the most fearful battle of Resaca, in Georgia. After seeing his oldest son slain before him, he fell himself, pierced by a fatal bullet.

Rev. McMullen was described as "a man of excellent mind and great force of character. Warm, energetic, and generosity were his leading traits. He was the powerful spring to a holy and useful life, a life full of activity, of self-denial and benevolence. His wife and four children survive, six children preceded him in death".