Joseph James Bullock was born on December 23, 1812 in Fayette County, Kentucky, the son of Mary Overton Burch and Walter Bullock. Bullock was educated at Centre College, Kentucky, attended law lectures at Transylvania University in 1833, and went on to study theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey, 1835-1836.
Bullock was licensed to preach in 1836 by West Lexington Presbytery. In December, 1836, the session of First Presbyterian Church of Frankfort, Kentucky, invited Bullock to supply the pulpit for twelve months. Before six months expired, he was called to the pastorate of the church, and in October, 1837, he was ordained and installed in this, his first charge, at the age of twenty-four. Leaders of the city were members of the congregation. Bullock's personality was described as distinguished; physically attractive: "a massive and towering physical frame formed a fit abode for his noble and lofty spirit, and gentleness and strength were exquisitely blended in his countenance and bearing." Bullock continued in office until the summer of 1846, when he was forced by impaired health to resign. While there, he also served as Kentucky's first superintendent of public instruction (1837–39).
In 1848 he became pastor of the church at Walnut Hills, Kentucky and principal of the Female Seminary there. In 1850 he was conferred the degree of D.D. by Centre College. He served as pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church, Louisville, (1853–1855), again as principal of the Walnut Hills Seminary (1856–1860). Bullock accepted calls to Franklin Street Presbyterian Church of Baltimore, Maryland (1861–1870), Second Presbyterian Church, Alexandria, Virginia (1870–1874), and First Presbyterian Church, Alexandria (1874–1880).
Chaplain of the Senate
On October 31, 1832, Joseph J. Bullock married Caroline Laurens Breckenridge, the daughter of Joseph Cabell Breckenridge, Sr., and Mary Clay Smith (daughter of Rev. Samuel Stanhope Smith, president of Princeton College, granddaughter of John Witherspoon and a lineal descendant of John Knox). They were the parents of: Waller Robert Bullock, Mary Stanhope Bullock, Cabell Breckinridge Bullock, Frances Breckinridge Bullock, Joseph James Bullock, Letitia Parkhill Bullock, John Milton Bullock, and Sarah Graham Bullock. In 1869, he married secondly Elizabeth T. Lavendar, they were the parents of one son, Wingfield Bullock.
Bullock died on November 9, 1892 in Lexington, Kentucky while visiting family there.
- History of First Church, Frankfort by William H. Averill, 1901, pp 72-73.
- The Papers of Henry Clay: Candidate, Compromiser, Elder Statesman, by Melba Porter Hay, page 905
- Averill, William H. A History of the First Presbyterian Church. Frankfort, Kentucky. pp. 101–102.
- Presbyterian Historical Society, Montreat, NC.
- "Breckenridge Biographies". Archived from the original on 2006-11-05.
| 46th US Senate Chaplain
March 24, 1879 – December 18, 1883
Elias DeWitt Huntley