Category Archives: Road trips with Dad

Broome County bride

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

Pecking away at the family history of our Bull ancestors was a vacation ritual I shared with my dad, Norm Charboneau — and sometimes it yielded valuable information about the family of our Union Army ancestor Arthur Bull.

http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-f264-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
Ahlborn’s Bridal Dress (1875). On a family history research outing, my dad and I found info about the Binghamton, N.Y., marriage of Arthur Bull’s oldest daughter Emma E. to Stephen E. Watson on Oct. 11, 1874 — placing the Bulls in Broome County that year. By: NYPL Digital Collections

Like the time in May 1997, during one of my visits, when my Dad and I ventured out on a research day together at the Onondaga County Public Library Local History and Genealogy Room in Syracuse, N.Y.

That’s where Dad and I first saw a copy of Genealogical gleanings from early Broome County, New York newspapers (1812-1880) abstracted and compiled by Maurice R. Hitt, Jr. and realized it contained loads of folks with the Bull surname.

Not yet clear on who was who, we decided to photocopy the lot. This meant using Dad’s library card and having the staff mail him the photocopies to forward on to me.

As we filled out the required paperwork at the front desk and paid for the copies and postage, Dad pursed his lips and shot me the look my youngest sister calls the “Charbo-smirk.”  A couple of weeks later he sent his commentary with the materials:

Well, here is the info we finally pried out of the library. Dad

I had to laugh when I again saw his wry, handwritten note in my files — stuck to a stack of photocopies containing a clue about a Broome County bride that we discovered together nearly 20 years ago.

A Broome County bride

And it has indeed turned out to be a valuable lead regarding the Empire State meanderings of our Bull ancestors. Specifically, the following abstract from a Broome Republican announcement of the Oct. 11, 1874, marriage of Arthur and Mary’s oldest daughter Emma to Stephen E. Watson:

WATSON, Stephen E. [BR, 21 Oct., 1874] Marr. 11 inst. At the home of the bride’s father in the town of Binghamton by Rev. A.M. Brown: Stephen E. Watson to Emma E. Bull, both of Binghamton.

Wait…at the home of the bride’s father in Binghamton, Broome County, N.Y.?

That had to be my great, great grandfather Arthur Bull’s home. Which meant he and Mary — and their family — made one more stopover in the Southern Tier between the 1873 birth of their son William and their 1875 arrival in the North Country.

Perhaps they were once again trying to make a go if it closer to their Binghamton, N.Y., family. Maybe it wasn’t until later that they were lured north by better job prospects for Arthur. Hard to know for sure.

But either way, it’s been a fun having my dad along again in spirit on the Bull family research journey.

To be continued.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Did Jeremiah Bull own a tannery?

First in a series on the occupations of my paternal great, great great grandfather Jeremiah Bull in the mid-1800s.

Old county history books are not the most reliable source of definitive family history information. Nevertheless, I was pleased to find a reference to my great, great, great grandfather Jeremiah Bull in the History of Broome County, with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers (1885), edited by H.P. Smith.

Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. "Map of Windsor Township; Castle Creek, Chenango TP [Village]; Corbettsville, Conklin TP [Village]" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed September 26, 2015. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-1bf0-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
Map of Corbettsville, N.Y. (at lower right) from an 1876 atlas. On our last genealogy trip together in 1995, my dad and I discovered this map of the town where our Bull ancestors lived — which shows some tannery owners’ names. Click on the map for a larger view. Image: NYPL Digital Collection 
A paragraph in the section on Corbettsville — a hamlet located in Town of Conklin, Broome County, N.Y. — mentions my ancestor in relation to a leather tannery located there:

The foundry was built by Sewell Corbett in 1845, who operated it until 1850, when he sold it to Sewell, jr., and Julius Corbett. In the year 1852 Jeremiah Bull took it and transformed it into a tannery and then sold it to Fred Burt. He transferred it to Geo. Belamy, who sold it to the present owner, John O. Porter. This tannery is a prosperous establishment, gives employment to sixteen or eighteen hands constantly and turns out from 18,000 to 20,000 sides of leather annually.

This passage piqued my interest. Did my ancestor really set up and own a tannery at some point? Where could I look for details?

I decided to start with the 1855 New York State Census for Town of Conklin, Broome County, N.Y.  — a source I already had in my records.

As I discussed in Tanners in my family tree, Jeremiah Bull’s occupation was given as “tanner” on this census — though not tannery owner or entrepreneur or anything along those lines.

However, being a tanner did place him in the leather-producing industry, where he likely learned the trade with the idea of moving up as his skills increased. So this did not rule out his owning a tannery at some point — and a prosperous one at that, if the description in the 1885 History of Broome County proves accurate.

Map evidence supports the county history

On our last family history trip together in August 1995, my dad and I traveled to Binghamton, Broome County, N.Y., and visited the public library in search of information about our Bull ancestors.

In those pre-digital days, we found a hard copy of Everts, Ensign and Everts’ Atlas Map of Broome County (1876) and photocopied the map of Corbettsville — now available online — because we knew our Bull forebears had lived there.

Studying the map again, I was encouraged to see a large building labeled “Parks & Porter Tannery”along with nearby buildings bearing the names “S. Corbett” and “J.S. Corbett.”

My ancestor Jeremiah Bull had left Corbettsville by 1876 when this atlas was created, so his name would not appear. But the map does contain the names of those who reportedly owned the tannery before and after him — lending credibility to the history book passage.

So far, so good. Now, where to look next?

To be continued.

© 2015 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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First Blogiversary: A one-gun salute

Today is the First Blogiversary of Molly’s Canopy — the family history blog that I launched on 24 April 2014 to begin sharing the stories of my ancestors and the roads I traveled to find them.

August 2014: Union artillery reenactors. Consider this a one-gun salute on the First Blogiversary of Molly's Canopy -- 24 April 2015. Photo: Molly Charboneau
August 2014: Union artillery reenactors on Governors Island, N.Y. Consider this a one-gun salute on the First Blogiversary of my family history blog Molly’s Canopy. Photo: Molly Charboneau

In weekly posts for the past year, I have primarily chronicled the Civil War experience of my paternal great, great, grandfather Union Pvt. Arthur Bull of the 6th N.Y. Heavy Artillery.

So it seems fitting to celebrate the First Blogiversary of Molly’s Canopy with a one-gun salute by Union artillery reenactors.

This blog came to life amid the boom of cannon at my first Civil War reenactment — the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Saunders Field where my ancestor fought.

And out of that illuminating cloud of gun smoke marched ancestors who have waited patiently for years in my research files — advancing, at last, to tell their stories.

First came my great, great grandfather Arthur Bull who — despite war-related illness — was on duty for key battles of the U.S. Civil War during the 1864 Overland and Shenandoah Valley campaigns.

Soon, others joined him. Arthur’s wife, my great, great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull, their children and extended family. His 6th N.Y.H.A. commanding officer Bvt. Brig. Gen. J. Howard Kitching and fellow artillerists Capt. John Gedney, Sgt. William Thistleton and Pvt. Orson L. Reynolds — whose writings helped animate Arthur’s wartime experience.

Then my late dad Norm Charboneau, a WWII Navy veteran, who traveled with me on many genealogy research trips and helped me discover Arthur’s story — along with numerous valuable clues about our other mutual ancestors.

Next was my Uncle Fred, dad’s youngest brother, whose letters home from his WW II Army assignment give insights into their family life — and Aunt Gig who gave his letters to Dad.

And most recently, my paternal Irish great, great grandparents Katherine and William Patrick Dempsey and family during their years in Civil War Baltimore, Md.

For the past year this blog has taken me on an incredible, almost magical, journey back through time — as I connected my ancestors to the places and circumstances in which they lived,  the great historic events that shaped their lives, and their unique position in the evolution of my family.

Writing my ancestors’ stories also reconnected me in ways I would not have imagined with my decades of genealogy research. The process helped me identify and evaluate unexamined details in my family history files — and pointed me toward new avenues of research and discovery.

Today, as I celebrate the First Blogiversary of Molly’s Canopy and the beloved ancestors who made it possible, I am so grateful that I went looking  for them all those years ago. They have taught me a lot during the past year — and the journey is far from over.

Tomorrow begins year two, during which new ancestors will make themselves known. My heartfelt thanks to readers of Molly’s Canopy who have hung in with me this past year. And a warm welcome to new readers — I hope you will subscribe and join me on the journey.

© 2015 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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