Tag Archives: Greene County NY

A Greene County clue

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

Two possible birth locations for my great, great grandfather Arthur Bull — Greene County and Schoharie County, N.Y. — appear on various civil and military documents spanning several decades — a curious phenomenon that I wrote about in last week’s post Schoharie County serendipity.

Naturally, questions spring to mind: Why the fluctuating birthplaces? Did Arthur really not know where he was born? Or is this seeming conundrum actually a promising lead that might help me identify the place of Arthur’s 1834 birth and pinpoint where he spent his early years?

Map of Greene County, N.Y. by cartographer David H. Burr (1829). On 3 March 1836, a northwest portion of Greene County was annexed to neighboring Schoharie County, N.Y. Could my ancestor Arthur Bull have lived in this area as a child?  Map: NYPL Digital Collections

In search of answers, I turned to several historic sources — and found my first clue in the 1860 Gazetteer of the State of New York by J.H. French. The  Schoharie County chapter begins:

This county was formed from Albany and Otsego, April 6, 1795. A small part of Greene was annexed in 1836.

This sounded promising. If Arthur’s 1834 birth took place in the portion of Greene County that — two years later — was annexed to Schoharie County, it might explain why these two counties were given interchangeably as his birthplace on various documents over the years.

Next, I looked at a digital version of the New York: Atlas of Historic County Boundaries, which contains a section titled New York: Individual County Chronologies. Scrolling down the list to Greene County, I found the date of the land transfer along with a legislative reference I could follow up on later:

03 Mar 1836  GREENE lost to SCHOHARIE. (N.Y. Laws 1836, 59th sess., ch. 31/p. 33)

So where was this annexed land located? I kept digging, and on the New York: Atlas of Historic County Boundries web page found a digital document with maps of county borderlines and their changes over time.

One Greene County map in this collection clearly shows the land that was ceded to Schoharie County in 1836. Could this be it? Had I found the area where my ancestor Arthur Bull was born?

To be continued.

© 2015 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Schoharie County serendipity

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

Lately when I fill a glass with New York City tap water, I marvel at a serendipitous connection to my family heritage — for a portion of my city’s drinking water comes from the upstate Schoharie Reservoir near where my paternal great, great grandfather Arthur Bull was born in 1834.

Map of Schoharie, Greene and Delaware Co., N.Y.(1895). Preliminary family history research suggests my ancestor Arthur Bull was born in the area at the northern edge of the Catskill Mountains where these three counties meet. Image: Rootsweb

This water source is located at the northern edge of the Catskill Mountains, where Schoharie, Greene and Delaware Counties meet.The reservoir was created in the 1920s, requiring the village of Gilboa — its remnants still visible during droughts — to be moved to the west to make room.

My preliminary family history research suggests my ancestor Arthur was born in this general vicinity. The question is: Where?

Nine years before he joined the Union Army, Arthur, 21, was enumerated with his parents and two younger siblings in the 1855 New York State census for Conklin, Broome County, N.Y. 1 — a census that asked what county each person was born in.

Arthur’s birthplace was given as Greene County, N.Y. — the same birth location as his mother Mary, 46, his brother Milo, 19, and his sister M.E. [Mary Elizabeth], 15. Only his father Jeremiah Bull, 52, was enumerated with a Schoharie County, N.Y., birthplace.

Yet other sources — such as the New York, Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts, 1861-1900  — give Arthur’s birthplace as Schoharie County, N.Y.

Schoharie County’s name comes from a Mohawk word for driftwood — and that certainly seems to apply to Arthur’s birth location, which floats back and forth between the two Empire State counties over several decades depending on which records I reference.

Here is the genealogy challenge: How to account for this? And how to resolve it so I can determine where to search for more definitive primary records to verify Arthur’s date of birth and illuminate his childhood years?

My research trail through the Catskills begins with the next post.

© 2015 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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