First in a series on searching for the birthplace of my great, great grandfather Arthur Bull.
Lately when I fill a glass with New York City tap water, I marvel at a serendipitous connection to my family heritage — for a portion of my city’s drinking water comes from the upstate Schoharie Reservoir near where my paternal great, great grandfather Arthur Bull was born in 1834.
This water source is located at the northern edge of the Catskill Mountains, where Schoharie, Greene and Delaware Counties meet.The reservoir was created in the 1920s, requiring the village of Gilboa — its remnants still visible during droughts — to be moved to the west to make room.
My preliminary family history research suggests my ancestor Arthur was born in this general vicinity. The question is: Where?
Nine years before he joined the Union Army, Arthur, 21, was enumerated with his parents and two younger siblings in the 1855 New York State census for Conklin, Broome County, N.Y. 1 — a census that asked what county each person was born in.
Arthur’s birthplace was given as Greene County, N.Y. — the same birth location as his mother Mary, 46, his brother Milo, 19, and his sister M.E. [Mary Elizabeth], 15. Only his father Jeremiah Bull, 52, was enumerated with a Schoharie County, N.Y., birthplace.
Yet other sources — such as the New York, Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts, 1861-1900 — give Arthur’s birthplace as Schoharie County, N.Y.
Schoharie County’s name comes from a Mohawk word for driftwood — and that certainly seems to apply to Arthur’s birth location, which floats back and forth between the two Empire State counties over several decades depending on which records I reference.
Here is the genealogy challenge: How to account for this? And how to resolve it so I can determine where to search for more definitive primary records to verify Arthur’s date of birth and illuminate his childhood years?
My research trail through the Catskills begins with the next post.
© 2015 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.