Matthew Bullock became well-known after fleeing from Norlina, North Carolina to Canada. Bullock’s saga began in the early 1920s, when he along with his brother, Plummer, attempted to take 10 cents worth of apples back to the store which he claimed were bad. The store clerk refused Bullock’s request and the men had an altercation. After the exchange of threatening words between the men group of whites confronted a group of blacks. Gunfire was exchanged, but no one was hurt. While both Bullock brothers claimed to have been several miles away from these events, they were charged with inciting a riot and Matthew Bullock was charged with intent to murder.
Plummer was arrested the next day and imprisoned in the local jail. The following morning a mob stormed the jail and lynched Plummer, and another black man named Alfred Williams. Bullock fled town, and eventually made it to Canada. There he settled in Hamilton, Ontario where he found a job in the construction industry.
When he was located in Canada in 1922 his extradition was demanded, and Bullock was imprisoned in the Hamilton jail for immigration violations.
In Canada, Bullock became a well-known as activists insisted that he would not receive a fair trial if extradited to North Carolina, and could face the same fate as his brother. The campaign for his release was led by the congregation of St. Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal Church (In 1937 St. Paul’s was renamed Stewart Memorial Church), Rev. J. D. Howell and Asst. Pastor John Christie Holland.
In the United States the NAACP campaigned on Bullock’s behalf, but the white residents of Norlina circulated a petition demanding his extradition. North Carolina Governor Cameron A. Morrison pressured the State Department to have Bullock returned to face trial.
On January 26, 1922 Charles Stewart, the Canadian minister of the interior, announced that Bullock would be released from detention in Hamilton, and that his illegal entry into Canada would be forgiven due to his exemplary behavior while living in Canada. Only a few weeks later, however, the Americans reiterated their demands for extradition and Bullock was again arrested.
Since almost all the evidence was eye witness accounts, this would have forced the government of North Carolina to go to considerable expense transporting witnesses to Hamilton. Governor Morrison rejected this, and the Canadian judge released Bullock.