Sojourn to the Land in the Sky

Fourth and last in a series on searching for the birthplace of my great, great grandfather Arthur Bull.

In the 1840 U.S. Census, a Jeremiah Bull was enumerated as the head of a six-member household in the mountainous Town of Windham, Greene Co., N.Y. — also known as the Land in the Sky. Was this my great, great, great grandfather? And what could this census tell me about the birthplace of one of his sons — my great, great grandfather Arthur Bull?

JB 1840
Listing of Jeremiah Bull’s household in the 1840 U.S. Census for Town of Windham, Greene County, N.Y.  His name appears fifth from the top and hash marks note the race, age and gender of those who lived with him. Is this the family of origin of my great, great grandfather Arthur Bull? Screen shot: Molly Charboneau

Alas, the 1840 U.S. Census only names the heads of household. Others living under the same roof are simply denoted by hash marks in columns by race, age and gender (see census image at right).

Yet based on knowledge of the Bull family from previous research, I decided to take a close look at the hash marks to see if they matched up with what I already knew [shown in brackets below].

Living in Jeremiah Bull’s household in 1840 were the following (including the head of household):

  • A male under 5.  [probably Milo Bull, Arthur’s younger brother, born in 1836 and age 4 in 1840 ]
  • A male 5 – 10. [probably Arthur Bull, born in 1834 and age 6 in 1840]
  • A male 10-15. [probably Arthur’s older brother Norris C. Bull, born in 1827 and age 13 in 1840]
  • A male 30-40. [probably Jeremiah Bull, the head of household, born in 1803 and age 37 in 1840]
  • A female under 5. [probably Arthur’s younger sister M.E. (Mary Elizabeth) Bull, an infant who was born in 1840]
  • A female 20-30. [probably Mary Bull, Jeremiah’s wife. Born on 7 Aug. 1809, she would have been age 30 if the census-taker enumerated the family in June or July 1840.]

Under the occupation heading “Number of Persons in Each Family Employed in” there is a single hash mark under the column titled “Manufactures and trades” [probably for Jeremiah Bull, the head of household, who worked as a leather tanner].

Although it can’t be considered definitive proof, this 1840 census entry certainly seemed like a pretty good fit with my ancestor Arthur Bull’s family of origin — with ages, genders and occupation matching my previous research on the family. And this would place Arthur in the Town of Windham, Greene County, N.Y., six years after his birth.

Was he born further north in the land that later went to Schoharie County? Or had his life begun in the same Windham location where the census taker called in 1840? That is a subject for future research — but a task made easier by geographically narrowing down Arthur’s possible birth locations.

For now I am satisfied that he enjoyed a Catskill Mountains childhood in the Land in the Sky — along with my other Bull ancestors. And I am also pleasantly surprised that I can now claim a Catskills heritage.

More on that in the next post.

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