Tag Archives: George F. Nowland

Norris C. Bull settles down on the farm

Fourth in a series on my ancestor Arthur Bull’s parents and siblings at the end of the US Civil War (1865).

In the last post we learned about the wagon/carriage-making profession of Norris C. Bull — my great, great grandfather Arthur Bull’s older brother. However, some time after the Civil War, Norris changed careers and became a prosperous farmer in Town of Colchester, Delaware County, N.Y. (Colchester Post Office).

Farmland in the Catskill country, in New York State. After the US Civil War, Norris C. Bull -- my ancestor Arthur Bull's older brother -- turned from wagon/carriage making to farming in Delaware County, N.Y. By: The Library of CongressBy: The Library of Congress
Farmland in New York State’s Catskill country. After the US Civil War, Norris C. Bull — my ancestor Arthur Bull’s older brother — turned from wagon/carriage making to farming in Delaware County, N.Y. By: The Library of Congress

According to state and federal census reports, Norris was a landowner from 1855-1865.

Had he been clearing and developing the land in tandem with his wagon/carriage making business with an eye toward farming?

Was he inspired by his wife Sabra A. (Howland) Bull’s father — George F. Howland (transcribed as “Nowland”) — who for years had farmed in nearby Hamden, N.Y.? Or by his own father, Jeremiah Bull, who had farmed in Conklin, N.Y., a decade earlier?

There’s no way to know for sure. But whatever the motivation, by the time of the 1870 US Agricultural census, Norris C. Bull had quite a spread.

Norris Bull’s farm facts

The agricultural census taker visited Norris’s property on 11 July 1870, when the summer growing season was in full swing. His farm consisted of 183 acres of land — 150 of them improved (i.e., “cleared land used for grazing, grass, tillage, or lying fallow,” according to the census taker’s instructions).

Here are the details from the 1870 Agricultural census report:

  • Cash value of the farm: $2,800 (about $52,400 today)
  • Value of machinery: $150 (about $2,819 today)
  • Wages paid during the year: $100 (about $1,870 today)
  • Live stock on June 1, 1870: 2 horses, 13 milch cows, 1 other cattle, 21 sheep, 2 swine.
  • Total value of live stock: $1,115 (about $29,900 today)
  • Produce during the year ending June 1, 1870: 25 bushels Indian corn, 75 bushels oats, 104 bushels buckwheat, 26 lbs. wool, 45 bushels Irish potatoes, $5 (about $93.60 today) in orchard production, 1,800 lbs. butter, 45 tons of hay, 4-M gallons of molasses (derived from sugar maples — hence the M).
  • Value of animals slaughtered: $150 (about $2,819 today)
  • Total value of all farm production including betterments and addition to stock: $1,830 (about $34,200 today)

Compare this to his father Jeremiah Bull’s farm in Town of Conklin, Broome County, N.Y. — which was cataloged in the 1860 US Agricultural census — and it’s easy to see that Norris C. Bull was running a larger and more complex agrarian operation.

Settling in with a growing family

In the 1870 US population census, Norris (listed as N.C. Bull) for the first time gave “farmer” as his occupation — and the census taker noted that his son J. Hanford Bull, 17, “works on farm.” Judging by the wages listed above, there were likely additional farm hands working alongside them.

Since 1865, Norris Bull’s family had grown as well. In addition to Norris, 43, his wife Sabra A., 38, son J. Hanford, 17, and daughter Ada, 13, there were two new children in 1870 — Anna, 8, and George, 2.

As we will see in future posts, Norris’s father Jeremiah (my ggg grandfather) and his brothers Milo and Arthur (my gg grandfather) continued to move around with their families in the decades that followed the US Civil War.

However, Norris and Sabra Ann (Howland) Bull settled down with their family and remained in Delaware County, New York — about 70 miles northeast of Binghamton — for the remainder of their lives.

Up next, the concluding post in this series: Portrait of the Bull family at the end of the US Civil War.

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