Richard C. Cully, (African American Deputy Fire Chief in Cambridge, MA)

Richard C. Cully
A Baby photo found in my mother’s collection

     This is the photo that baptized me into the full immersion of genealogy.  This is a photo of my mothers first cousin, Richard Clayton Cully.  I did not know Richard, and had seen this photo in the past when I had the opportunity to go through my mom’s photo collection. I also did not know who were Richard’s parents.  My guess was that it must have been my Great Aunt Nora Cully’s child. (She was the youngest).

     Spending hours and hours over a few years, I had spent lots of time on searching all U.S. Census reports of the Cully’s in the Worcester, MA area.  I had decided I would copy all of the Census reports in that area with that surname (Cully) and review each one.  When I came across the one posted below, I said to myself, “Now I know who Richard belongs to!”

     Cousin Richard was the child of Osborn Cully and Gertrude Hayes.  Growing up, my mother talked about Uncle “Ozzie” all the time.  Osborn was one of the older siblings of the union between my Great Grandparents, Ambrose & Nora [Gilliam] Cully.

Gertrude Hayes & Osborn Cully
Osborn’s scrapbook in my mom’s possession
(Richard’s parents)
abt. 1918

     I knew that my Great Uncle Osborn and his wife died young in 1935, so my question was, “Where is Cousin Richard Cully now?”

     I immediately checked the Social Security Death Index to rule out that he had died.  To my disappointment Richard had died 30 December 2003, which was six days before my mother passed in January 2004.

     As I continued to do more searching, I came across Richard’s military record.

     So, I knew Richard had been in the military, and I knew that he had already died, and I knew who his parents were.  There were some things that I could still do to find Richard’s family and to know more about him.

     The situation was, I did not have any connections with any of the Cully family members except for Zara Cully Brown’s [Mother Jefferson who played George’s mother on the TV Sitcom “The Jefftersons”] decedents, as our family remained and remain very close to this day.

     I had to be creative. I Googled Richard’s name just so that I could exhaust that avenue….”I Got A Hit!”  The Cambridge Fire Department had written up an article in their newsletter, and this gave me clues as to what to do next.

 The newsletter confirmed some things I knew from prior research on Richard’s father Osborn, and the location of where the family resided throughout the years.

Cambridge Fire Dept. Newsletter
(Insert from newsletter)

    I learned that Cousin Richard had been one of the first African American Deputy Fire Cheifs in Cambridge and had been a fireman since 1951.  I also learned the names of his son Rick (Richard Cully, Jr.) and his grandson Justin Cully as they were three generations of firemen.

     Having this information was very valuable to me.  I was on a clear mission to find this branch of the tree and reunite with them because it had been at least 60 to 70 years since the Cully’s from all branches have been together.

     I had to be creative, and in doing so it payed off.  At first, I purchased a month membership with and was able to get a listing of names of family members that had resided in the Cully family household. Then I went on Facebook and entered the names and connected with the grandchildren of Richard Cully. Then I  wrote a letter to Richard C. Cully Jr. at the Cambridge Fire department inquiring about his father, and informing him of our family connection.   It took about a month before I received a response from him, but along with it, I was given contact information of Richard Jr’s. sister Karen Cully, who resides in Florida.  We hit it off immediately.

      I had the opportunity to reunite with Karen when she came to San Diego, CA and then I went to Orlando, Florida two times in 2010.  I went once to celebrate their mother Raymonde Cully’s [Richard Sr.’s wife]  90th birthday and then in November 2010 to celebrate Thanksgiving with their family from Haiti’s.  During these visits, I met Richard and Karen’s sister Gretchen Gertrude & brother Richy, and many others from this Cully Branch.

     Finding family can be a difficult task, but when you put your heart, your mind, your spirit, and allow your ancestors to guide you, the possibilities are open to you.  I say happy researching and hunting as this could begin a whole new chapter in a happy reunion.

     To keep this post relatively simple, I will post our reunion pictures and other details at a later date.


The material, both written and photographic on these pages is the copyright of Yvette Porter Moore unless stated. Material on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other means, please seek the written permission of Yvette Porter Moore
© 2010-2011

3 thoughts on “Richard C. Cully, (African American Deputy Fire Chief in Cambridge, MA)

  1. Nice detective work! My mother's cousins (Mosher) in Rhode Island have a long line of firefighters, also. I remember when I found newspaper articles on them it was almost like meeting them (photos included). As I read your story, I was rooting for you, hoping you would be able to make that special connection. Brava! That's wonderful!

  2. Thank you Debra. I am so glad I could share this experience. One of my cousin's married into the Mosher family. Not sure where they were from but I know they live on the East Coast. Would love to read a story about your line of family firefighters.

  3. Wow, what an awesome story! It's amazing how you were able to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together, and then re-connect with a really interesting branch of you family.

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