1850: A couple of Conklin clues

Sepia Saturday 460. Third in a series on the early life of my paternal great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull, a Union Civil War widow.

Town of Conklin in Broome County, N.Y., was a predominantly rural area in 1850 when my great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull, 12, lived there with her parents Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee.

Although there were some small employers in Conklin Center and  nearby hamlets (tanneries, acid works and the like), most of the population — including the Blakeslees — was still earning its primary income from farming.

1829 Map of Broome County, N.Y., showing Town of Conklin at south center. [CLICK HERE for enlargeable map.] Town of Conklin, where Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull lived as a girl, is located just north of the Pennsylvania border. Source: David Rumsey Historical Map Collection
A couple of Conklin clues

In his Gazetteer of the State of New York (1860), J.H. French gives the following brief description of Conklin, N.Y. — which contains a couple of Blakeslee family history clues that I have highlighted below.[1]French, J. H. (John Homer). (1860). Gazetteer of the State of New York: embracing a comprehensive view of the geography, geology, and general history of the state, and a complete history and … Continue reading

CONKLIN—was formed from Chenango, March 29, 1824. A part of Windsor was taken off in 1831, and a part was annexed from Windsor in 1851. It lies upon the Susquehanna, s. of the center of the co. Its surface consists of the fine broad intervals of the river and high, broken uplands which rise upon each side…Little Snake Creek flows in an easterly direction through the s. w. part.

Kirkwood(p.v.) is situated on the E. bank of the Susquehanna, in the s. part of the town. It is a station on the Erie R. R. and contains 25 houses. Conklin Center and Corbettsville are p. offices, and Millburn and Conklin are hamlets. At Millburn are extensive pyroligneous acid works.

A post office connection

Rural mailboxes.  Mention of the Conklin Center post office in J.H. French’s 1860 “Gazetteer of the State of New York” helped me connect another family detail from my great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull’s childhood. Image by werner22brigitte on Pixabay.

As I read French’s pastoral portrait of Conklin, I was struck by his mention of Conklin Center and Corbettsville as the town’s two post offices.

Wait. Hadn’t both hamlets shown up in past research on my great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull? Yes, I think so…

So I dug into my files — and sure enough, I found some information about Mary’s dad and his various jobs that could help connect a few more dots on the Blakeslees’ time in Conklin.

Up next: Zebulon Blakeslee’s other occupations. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

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1 French, J. H. (John Homer). (1860). Gazetteer of the State of New York: embracing a comprehensive view of the geography, geology, and general history of the state, and a complete history and description of every county, city, town, village and locality, with full tables of statistics. 5th ed. Syracuse, N.Y.: Published by R. Pearsall Smith.

8 thoughts on “1850: A couple of Conklin clues”

  1. My great grandfather worked for the U.S. Postal Service in both San Francisco and Oakland, CA. I’m not sure in what capacity, however, as that detail has never been mentioned in any of the information I have on him.

    1. See if there is a postal history society for California. They sometimes post rosters of postmasters — maybe you’ll be surprised!

  2. The David Ramsey Historical Map Collection is one of my favorite internet archives. I often get “lost” wandering through the virtual library stacks. I was delighted to learn something new in your Broome County map which was a canal parallel to the Chenango River. It was finished in 1836 after the Erie Canal and stretched nearly 100 miles with 116 locks. According to Wikipedia, prior to the canal it took between 9 and 13 days for a goods wagon to travel from Binghamton to Albany. The canal shortened that trip to 4 days and reduced the cost of shipping by 80%. Today the direct route by the interstate is 2 hr 15 min.

    1. I love David Rumsey’s map collection as well — and will have to take another look at the Chenango Canal now that you have pointed it out. The Erie Canal feeders each have their own fascinating histories, and one of them — the Cayuga-Seneca Canal — is still in operation.

  3. I’ve found similar maps this week, of land where ancestors settled and farmed. The sections and roads are hard for me to figure out, but I recognize creeks easily enough! Now I’m off to look up “pyroligneous acid.”

  4. I’ve been surprised by the number of my ancestors who were appointed postmasters of their communities.

    1. There were so many small post offices back in the day, that having a postmaster ancestor is not as unusual as we might think today.

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