Tag Archives: Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull

Elizabeths in my family tree

Letter E: Fifth of twenty-six posts in the April 2016 Blogging A to Z Challenge. Wish me luck and please join me on the journey!

Among my ancestors, there are many duplicate given names. But Elizabeth is one of the most common — as a first or middle name — on both sides of my family tree.

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My maternal grandmother’s handkerchief with the letter E. Elizabeth was a common first or middle name among my female ancestors. Photo by Molly Charboneau

My paternal great, great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull — wife of my Union Army ancestor Arthur Bull — apparently went by Elizabeth because there were so many Marys in her family. Here and there, it shows up as her first name on records.

My maternal grandmother Elizabeth Christina (Stoutner) Laurence was called Lizbeth by my grandfather, who knew her from childhood. But when she learned, and later taught, Early American Tole Painting, she always signed her work Liz.

She appears to have been named after her German-born grandmothers — her mom’s mother Eva Elizabeth (Edel) Mimm (who went by Elizabeth) and her dad’s mother Christina (Albeitz) Stoutner.

Then there was my Irish great grandmother Elizabeth C. Dempsey, born in 1865 in Baltimore City, Baltimore Co., Md. — a twin and part of the large household of my Irish-born great, great grandparents William Patrick and Katherine (Gormley) Dempsey.

There are some other Elizabeths, Lizzies and Mary Elizabeths among my side line ancestors, too — clearly a popular name on many branches of my family tree.

Have you looked for patterns in your ancestors’ given names? They might hold clues about the next generation back.

Up next: Fort Monroe in Virginia, where my Union Army ancestor Arthur Bull — husband of one of my Elizabeths, Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull — was hospitalized during the U.S. Civil War.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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A decade in Moose River Settlement

After exploring how Moose River Settlement was established, I wanted to know more about the daily lives of my Bull ancestors after their 1875 move to the then-thriving hamlet.

http://digitalcollections.archives.nysed.gov/index.php/Detail/Object/Show/object_id/295
South Branch of the Moose River (1912). A man driving a horse drawn sled loaded with logs along Moose River in the Adirondack Mountains. Logs piled along the river, and in the distance is a man standing on a log bridge. From 1875-1885, my Bull ancestors lived on this river in Moose River Settlement — an area with sufficient forests, water and transportation for leather tanning. Photo: New York State Archives Digital Collections

That’s when I discovered author Judy Jones — who wrote about her own contemporary journey of discovery after she and her family bought a camp in the area and became curious about its history.

Early in her book Moose River Diary – In Search of The Settlement (2011) she sums up a quest that sounds very much like my own and provides many details I am grateful for:

Now we knew the origin of Moose River Settlement, but that was all. Then, in a series of minute snippets, we learned a little more. We learned that a village of three hundred citizens once bustled in a place called Moose River. There had been a sawmill and tanneries and a boarding house and private homes. There had been a general store and a schoolhouse and a post office and a fine hotel. But then what? And what became of the place?

One of those tanneries employed my great, great grandfather Arthur Bull (a tannery foreman) and his father — my ggg grandfather Jeremiah Bull (who returned to tannery work at age 70).

Perhaps it was Lyon and Snyder’s Mammoth Tannery — built in 1866 at Moose River Settlement and one of the largest in the Adirondack region. Such a substantial operation could certainly have enticed my Bull ancestors to leave the Southern Tier for the promise of steady work in the North Country — and for hundreds of others to join them as co-workers and neighbors.

And Moose River Settlement appears to have fulfilled some of my Bull ancestors’ expectations — because they remained there for a decade from 1875-1885.

Highlights of the Moose River years

During their time in Moose River, my great, great grandparents Arthur and Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull saw their oldest children grow to adulthood, start work and begin families of their own. One of these was my great grandmother Eva May Bull who married a local lad — my great grandfather William Lawrence Charboneau.

And Arthur and Mary became the proud parents of two more children — daughter Alice I. Bull and son Waples H. Bull — who were both born at Moose River Settlement.

Yet my Bull ancestors were also growing older, and health issues began to arise during their Moose River years. Arthur’s heart and lung complaints — for which he was hospitalized during his Union Army service in the U.S. Civil War — reasserted themselves, making it harder for him to work.

So in 1880 — about five years after moving to Moose River Settlement — Arthur Bull filed for a veteran’s Invalid Pension from the federal government and began seeing local doctors in connection with his application.

There will be more details in future posts on this and other aspects of my Bull ancestors’ Moose River years.

But first I have news to share about my Irish ancestors — William Patrick and Katherine (Gormley) Dempsey — starting with the next post.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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The Bulls and the Black River Canal

During the time that we researched the family history of our Bull ancestors together — focusing on the 1860s-1880s — my dad could never get over how mobile they were.

“You don’t think about people moving around so much back then,” Dad told me more than once. “But the Bulls moved all over the place.”

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Black River Canal and Delta Dam (1916). General view from below of the Gate House, locks of relocated Black River Canal, a tow and a change bridge located four miles north of Rome. The completion of this canal led to the development of Moose River Settlement, to which  my Bull ancestors moved in 1875. Image: New York State Archives Digital Collections

True enough. Starting in New York’s Catskill Mountains in the 1840s, my great, great grandfather Arthur Bull and his family of origin ended up in the Binghamton, N.Y., area by the time of the U.S. Civil War.

Ten years later — after briefly trying the Catskills one more time — Arthur, his wife Mary Elizabeth, their children and his parents pulled up stakes again, moving in 1875 to Moose River Settlement in the state’s Adirondack region.

I wondered: How was Moose River Settlement established? What was the community like? How was daily life for the Bull family while living there? And how did the once-vibrant settlement disappear?

My first answer came from the excellent book The Nature of New York: An Environmental History of the Empire State (Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London: 2010) — in which author David Stradling describes how New York’s canal system contributed to the development Moose River Settlement:

The completion of the Black River Canal in 1855 allowed Lewis County to diversify its economy. Tanneries sprang up along the Beaver, Moose and Oswegatchie rivers, often taking advantage of water power to crush the hemlock bark harvested in the Adirondack foothills.

Today, what remains of New York State’s Erie Canal system and its feeders is mainly used for recreation. So it is easy to forget the pivotal role canals once played in the economic, social and political development of the state. Yet here in my own family history is an example of how these canals shaped lives. David Stradling explains:

The canals transformed the state’s economy by connecting markets and creating opportunities in new lands, including those along the “feeder canals.”

My ancestor Arthur Bull, a tanner by trade, appears to have relocated so many times because his job required abundant forests and water power for leather production, along with transportation to bring in hides and ship out finished leather.

As these resources were used up in one place, my great, great grandfather was forced to move with his family to the next. In 1875, the next place for the Bull family was Moose River Settlement — brought into being by the construction of the Black River Canal.

What more could I find out about Moose River Settlement and my ancestors’ time there?  Stay tuned as the search continues.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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A Lyonsdale loss

Fifth and last in a series tracking my ancestor Arthur Bull’s family from the Catskills to the Adirondack foothills (1870-1875).

Three generations of my Bull ancestors — my great, great grandfather Arthur Bull, his wife and children, and his parents — appear to have moved north together from Broome County on New York’s Southern Tier to Lewis County in the Adirondacks region.

http://digitalcollections.archives.nysed.gov/index.php/Detail/Object/Show/object_id/220
Distant view of a 600-tree maple sugar bush near Lowville, Lewis Co., N.Y. (1911). The landscape and climate in New York’s North Country marked a change from what the Bull family was used to on the Southern Tier. Perhaps the harsher 1875 winter proved too much for my great, great, great grandmother Mary Bull. Image: New York State Archives Digital Collections

The Bulls seem to have pulled up stakes in late 1874, after the marriage of Arthur’s oldest daughter in Binghamton, N.Y.

For by early 1875 the extended family was already in Town of Lyonsdale, Lewis Co., N.Y. at the time of the next major event in their lives — the death of Arthur’s mother, Mary, at Moose River Settlement on 15 Jan. 1875.

Vital records registration was not required in New York State until 1881, so I have not found a death certificate for my great, great, great grandmother Mary Bull.

However, a notice of her death and burial (141 years ago this month) appeared in the Broome Republican and was abstracted in the book Genealogical gleanings from early Broome County, New York newspapers (1812-1880) abstracted and compiled by Maurice R. Hitt, Jr. — yet another clue my dad and I discovered together at the Onondaga County Public Library.

BULL, Mary [BR, 27 Jan. 1875] Died 15 Jan. at Moore [sic] River, Lewis Co., NY: Mary Bull, wife of Jeremiah Bull. Age: 65 yrs. 5 mo. 8 da. Bur. in the Shawsville Cem., Conklin, NY.

The abstract does not say whether my ancestor Mary Bull’s funeral took place in Lewis County (where she died) or in Conklin, Broome County, N.Y. (where she lived for much of her adult life and was buried).

But I have visited my great, great, great grandmother’s grave in Shawsville Cemetery, and the inscription on her stone is consistent with the date in the newspaper abstract.

MARY
WIFE OF
JEREMIAH BULL
DIED JAN. 15, 1875
Aged 65 y’rs & 5 m’s.

Mary’s death must have been particularly difficult for the Bull family, coming so soon after they moved north in search of a better life. Was the relocation too much for her? Had the harsher winter weather laid her low? Once again I long for family letters or a diary to fill in these personal details.

With Mary’s death, my great, great, great grandfather Jeremiah Bull became a widower. According to the 1875 New York State Census for Town of Boonville, Oneida County, N.Y. — enumerated on 7 June — he took up residence in a boarding house in the village of Hawkinsville, N.Y., and at age 70 returned to work as a tanner.

The Bull family surely mourned the loss of my great, great, grandmother Mary Bull. But before long they had a happier occasion to celebrate — the 1876 birth at Moose River Settlement of Arthur and Mary Elizabeth’s eighth child, daughter Alice Istora Bull.

More on my Bull ancestors at Moose River Settlement in the next post.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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A new Lewis County location

Fourth in a series tracking my ancestor Arthur Bull’s family from the Catskills to the Adirondack foothills (1870-1875).

Some time between the 1874 marriage of his daughter Emma  in Binghamton, Broome Co., N.Y., and the 1875 New York State census, my ancestor Arthur Bull once again relocated with his family — this time to New York’s Adirondack foothills for a tannery job in the state’s still-forested North Country.

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J.B. and F.M. Weed & Co’s Upper Leather Tannery, Binghamton, N.Y. (1876). The industrialization of Southern Tier tanneries and dwindling downstate hemlock stands may have forced Arthur Bull to move to the Adirondack foothills with his family in search of work. Image: NYPL Digital Collections

For on 23 June 1875, the state census taker found the family living in a new location — the combined First and Second Districts of the Town of Lyonsdale, Lewis County, N.Y.

The Bull family’s odyssey to this new location was likely forced upon Arthur, as well as other tanners and their families, by dwindling downstate economic circumstances — possibly exacerbated by the industrialization of tanning, which put smaller shops out of business.

According to Hemlock and Hide: The Tanbark Industry in Old New York, an excellent post by Hugh O. Canham on the Northern Woodlands blog:

When the easily accessible hemlock stands in the Catskills were exhausted, tanners looked to the Adirondack foothills for further supplies. Here, water was plentiful, and the Erie Canal and emerging railroads facilitated the shipment of both hides and leather…In all areas, communities sprang up around the tanneries.

Three generations relocate together

My great, great grandmother Mary E. (Blakeslee) Bull must have had her hands full arranging for this move. This would be the furthest she and Arthur had strayed from their childhood homes in the Catskill Mountains — and according to the 1875 state census, they still had six minor children living at home: Carrie, 15, Milo, 13, Eva, 8, Jessie, 6, Frederick, 5, and William, 20 months.

But the census also reveals that she and Arthur likely had help from family who moved north with them. Residing in  the same household was their oldest daughter, Emma E. (Bull) Watson, 17, a housekeeper, and her husband Stephen Watson, 22, who also worked as a tanner.

The Bull and Watson families lived together in a plank house valued at $400 (about $8,900 today) — a higher value than the homes of their neighbors, which seems to indicate that their change of venue was worthwhile.

Nor were the Watsons the only relatives who joined them in the Adirondack foothills. As we will see in the next post, evidence indicates that Arthur’s parents — my great, great, great grandparents Mary and Jeremiah Bull — also relocated to Lewis County, N.Y., around the same time.

To be continued.

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