Tag Archives: Conklin NY

A Corbettsville, N.Y. merchant

Second in a series on the occupations of my paternal great, great great grandfather Jeremiah Bull in the 1800s

A passage in a History of Broome County (1885) indicated that in 1852 my great, great, great grandfather Jeremiah Bull bought a foundry in Corbettsville, N.Y., and turned it into a tannery then sold it. A historic map shown in the last post supports this possibility.

The Tan Vats (1860-1920). My great, great, great grandfather Jeremiah Bull — listed as a merchant in the 1860 U.S. census — may have briefly owned a leather tannery similar to this in the Town of Conklin, Broome County, N.Y. Photo: NYPL Digital Collections

From pervious research, I had some corroboration that Jeremiah lived in Corbettsville because my great, great grandfather Arthur Bull — his son — was living there at the time of his 1856 marriage.

My next plan of action was to examine census reports for more details — but right away I noticed that the timeline appeared to be off.

The 1855 N.Y. State census for Town of Conklin, Broome County, N.Y. — where Corbettsville was located — indicated that Jeremiah Bull and his family had lived in the town for only a year. I wrote about this in Tanners in my family tree, where you can see an image of the census.

That would place his arrival at about 1854 — two years after the History of Broome County said that he converted a local foundry into a tannery — assuming the census information on the Bull family was accurate.

Also, at the back of the same 1855 state census — in a section titled “Industry other than agriculture” for the Town of Conklin, Broome County, N.Y. (enumerated on 11 July 1855) — Jeremiah Bull’s name does not appear, and there is also no mention of a foundry. But Julius Corbett is listed as a operating a tannery — which he should not be if Jeremiah took the facility over from him in 1852.

1860: A change for the better

However, fast forward five years and Jeremiah’s situation has changed for the better. In the 1860 U.S. Census for Town of Conklin, Broome County, N.Y. (Kirkwood Post Office), Jeremiah Bull (enumerated correctly, but indexed under the name variant “Jeremiah Ball”) is listed as a “Merchant” in a household with wife Mary Elizabeth and daughter Mary.

That certainly would imply that he owned a business — most likely a tannery, since that was his trade at the time, had been for years and continued to be as indicated in earlier and later census reports.

And I also like to think that those who compiled the History of Broome County tried their best to paint a reasonably accurate historical picture based on their own research and oral history interviews — even if they ended up doing a rather broad sweep with the brush and being off by a few years here or there.

So for now, let’s say that it’s possible that my great, great, great grandfather Jeremiah Bull owned a tannery for a time before the U.S. Civil War — and that this premise provides a good starting point for further research into business or property records or even news articles from the area that might support this contention.

Meanwhile, the tanning trade was not my ancestor Jeremiah Bull’s sole occupation — for the agricultural section of the 1860 census revealed that he also resided with his family on a 113-acre working farm in Town of Conklin, Broome County, N.Y.

To be continued.

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