Tag Archives: Norris C. Bull

Hidden hometown heritage

Fifth and last in a series on my ancestor Arthur Bull’s parents and siblings at the end of the US Civil War (1865).

At the end of the US Civil War — when my great, great grandfather Arthur Bull returned home to his wife and children after mustering out of the Union Army — his parents, siblings and their families all lived and worked within 60 miles of Binghamton, Broome County, N.Y.

Bird’s eye view of Binghamton, Broome County, N.Y. (1882). In 1865, my Bull ancestors lived within 60 miles of Binghamton — something my family was unaware of when we lived in the same area 100 years later. Image: Library of Congress
  • Arthur and Mary E. (Blakeslee) Bull resided in Town of Conklin, just 13 miles south of Binghamton.
  • Parents Jeremiah and Mary Bull also lived in Conklin — in the household of Arthur’s sister, Mary E. (Bull) Tamkins and her husband, Edward.
  • Younger brother Milo Bull, and his wife Catherine (Hinman) Bull, lived in Town of Triangle, Broome County, N.Y. — 19 miles north of Binghamton.
  • Older brother Norris C. Bull, and his wife Sabra Ann (Howland) Bull, lived the furthest away in Town of Colchester, Delaware County, N.Y. — about 59 miles northeast of Binghamton.

Surprise family ties

Why is this important? Because 100 years later, in 1965, my own family of origin lived in Town of Union — about 9 miles west of Binghamton — and we were completely unaware we had any family connection to the Southern Tier! Nor were the Bulls the only ancestors who were part of our hidden hometown heritage.

As I will discuss in future posts, the Blakeslee family of Arthur’s wife Mary Elizabeth (and the Hance family of her mother) also lived in Town of Conklin, Broome County, N.Y. — and just over the border in Town of Liberty, Susquehanna County, Pa.

All I can say is: Amazing!

My dad, Norm Charboneau, may have had an inkling about our Southern Tier family ties. But he never mentioned anything until we went back to Binghamton on a family history road trip in 1995 — decades after our family had left the area.  In some ways, I wish I had known sooner.

A Southern Tier connection

My family moved to the Binghamton area from Albany County — where we shared a farmhouse with my maternal grandparents — after my dad got a promotion at his job with General Electric in the late 1950s. I was just starting second grade.

Growing up, I thought it was odd that we had no family members nearby. Most of my friends from the neighborhood, and at school, seemed to have loads of local  relatives — grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, big extended families.

My local family — on the other hand — consisted of me, my parents, two younger brothers and two younger sisters. If we wanted to see our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins we had to pile into the car and drive for up to four hours.

How I envied my classmates and the kids on my street — with their hordes of relatives within shouting distance!

Yet today I sometimes wonder: Was it because I lacked nearby relatives as a child that I developed an interest in my family’s history? Did isolation from my extended family become a wellspring for genealogy research?

Maybe so. But this much I know for sure: Finding and writing about my Bull ancestors living near Binghamton in 1865 has deepened my connection to the area where I grew up — and genealogy research has finally provided me with those long hoped for hometown family ties.

In the next post: Holiday greetings from my paternal grandmother Mary Frances “Molly” (Owen) Charboneau.

© 2015 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Norris C. Bull settles down on the farm

Fourth in a series on my ancestor Arthur Bull’s parents and siblings at the end of the US Civil War (1865).

In the last post we learned about the wagon/carriage-making profession of Norris C. Bull — my great, great grandfather Arthur Bull’s older brother. However, some time after the Civil War, Norris changed careers and became a prosperous farmer in Town of Colchester, Delaware County, N.Y. (Colchester Post Office).

Farmland in the Catskill country, in New York State. After the US Civil War, Norris C. Bull -- my ancestor Arthur Bull's older brother -- turned from wagon/carriage making to farming in Delaware County, N.Y. By: The Library of CongressBy: The Library of Congress
Farmland in New York State’s Catskill country. After the US Civil War, Norris C. Bull — my ancestor Arthur Bull’s older brother — turned from wagon/carriage making to farming in Delaware County, N.Y. By: The Library of Congress

According to state and federal census reports, Norris was a landowner from 1855-1865.

Had he been clearing and developing the land in tandem with his wagon/carriage making business with an eye toward farming?

Was he inspired by his wife Sabra A. (Howland) Bull’s father — George F. Howland (transcribed as “Nowland”) — who for years had farmed in nearby Hamden, N.Y.? Or by his own father, Jeremiah Bull, who had farmed in Conklin, N.Y., a decade earlier?

There’s no way to know for sure. But whatever the motivation, by the time of the 1870 US Agricultural census, Norris C. Bull had quite a spread.

Norris Bull’s farm facts

The agricultural census taker visited Norris’s property on 11 July 1870, when the summer growing season was in full swing. His farm consisted of 183 acres of land — 150 of them improved (i.e., “cleared land used for grazing, grass, tillage, or lying fallow,” according to the census taker’s instructions).

Here are the details from the 1870 Agricultural census report:

  • Cash value of the farm: $2,800 (about $52,400 today)
  • Value of machinery: $150 (about $2,819 today)
  • Wages paid during the year: $100 (about $1,870 today)
  • Live stock on June 1, 1870: 2 horses, 13 milch cows, 1 other cattle, 21 sheep, 2 swine.
  • Total value of live stock: $1,115 (about $29,900 today)
  • Produce during the year ending June 1, 1870: 25 bushels Indian corn, 75 bushels oats, 104 bushels buckwheat, 26 lbs. wool, 45 bushels Irish potatoes, $5 (about $93.60 today) in orchard production, 1,800 lbs. butter, 45 tons of hay, 4-M gallons of molasses (derived from sugar maples — hence the M).
  • Value of animals slaughtered: $150 (about $2,819 today)
  • Total value of all farm production including betterments and addition to stock: $1,830 (about $34,200 today)

Compare this to his father Jeremiah Bull’s farm in Town of Conklin, Broome County, N.Y. — which was cataloged in the 1860 US Agricultural census — and it’s easy to see that Norris C. Bull was running a larger and more complex agrarian operation.

Settling in with a growing family

In the 1870 US population census, Norris (listed as N.C. Bull) for the first time gave “farmer” as his occupation — and the census taker noted that his son J. Hanford Bull, 17, “works on farm.” Judging by the wages listed above, there were likely additional farm hands working alongside them.

Since 1865, Norris Bull’s family had grown as well. In addition to Norris, 43, his wife Sabra A., 38, son J. Hanford, 17, and daughter Ada, 13, there were two new children in 1870 — Anna, 8, and George, 2.

As we will see in future posts, Norris’s father Jeremiah (my ggg grandfather) and his brothers Milo and Arthur (my gg grandfather) continued to move around with their families in the decades that followed the US Civil War.

However, Norris and Sabra Ann (Howland) Bull settled down with their family and remained in Delaware County, New York — about 70 miles northeast of Binghamton — for the remainder of their lives.

Up next, the concluding post in this series: Portrait of the Bull family at the end of the US Civil War.

© 2015 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Norris C. Bull: Wagon & carriage maker

Third in a series on my ancestor Arthur Bull’s parents and siblings at the end of the US Civil War (1865).

Norris C. Bull — the older brother of my ancestor Arthur Bull –appears to have stayed behind when the rest of his family left the Catskills and relocated to Town of Conklin on New York’s Southern Tier.

For on 29 June 1855, Norris, 26, was enumerated in the New York State Census with his wife Sabra Ann (Howland), 21, and their child Hanford, 2, in the Town of Delhi, Delaware County, N.Y. — about 68 miles northeast of Binghamton. He had lived in the town for six years, so he must have left home around the age of 20.

Dec. 2015: Wagon at Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum in Madison County, N.Y. Norris C. Bull, my ancestor Arthur’s older brother, started out making wagons like this one, but moved up to making carriages by 1865. Photo by Molly Charboneau

A wagon maker and land owner

Like his siblings, Norris was born in Greene County, New York — while his wife and son were born in Delaware County. But unlike the his father Jeremiah and younger brothers Arthur and Milo, Norris was not a tanner. His trade was wagon maker.

Norris was also a land owner with a frame house and lived near others engaged in similar professions: blacksmith, carpenter, mason, tanner, merchant, manufacturer.

For the 1860 US Census, Norris, 32, was still in Delaware County, N.Y. — but now in Town of Colchester — living with wife Sabra, 29 (housekeeper), son Hanford, 7, and a daughter Ada, 3.

Norris was still working as a wagon maker. But also living in their household was Charles Warren, 18, an apprentice — an indication of a growing business. Indeed, Norris had real estate valued at $1,000 (about $29, 400 today) and personal property worth $700 (about $20,600 today).

A move up to carriage maker

By the time of the US Civil War, Norris, 37, was still a landowner but had moved up to carriage maker. His frame house alone was valued at $1,000 (about $15,000 today due to a drop in the dollar’s value during the Civil War).

According to the 1865 New York State census for First E.D., Town of Colchester, Delaware County, N.Y., he had also added to his family. He and his wife Sabra A., 33, now had three children — James H., 12 [likely son Hanford from 1860], Ada A., 8, and a new daughter Nancy A., age 3 years and 7 months.

Taking in a Union soldier’s family

Interestingly, another family also lived in their household:  Marcus Hunter, 36 (a tanner) and his wife Cordelia, 26 — both born in Delaware County — along with their daughters Frances E., 10, (born in Illinois) and Ester C., 7 (born in Delaware County).

The Hunters are not listed with the impersonal term “boarder,” nor was Marcus in the wagon business. This made me wonder: Were they somehow related to or close personal associates of the Bulls?

At the back of the 1865 state census record, on page 36, are Marcus Hunter’s military details (next to “page 35, line 24”). He enlisted in the 101st Regiment, New York Infantry on 8 Nov. 1861, served as a Private for 40 months and was discharged at the expiration of his term — so he was not long out of the army when the census was taken on 13 June 1865.

While in service, Marcus was transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps (VRC) — where partially disabled or otherwise infirm veterans performed light-duty tasks freeing able-bodied soldiers for battle.

Marcus is listed in “good” health and “without wounds” on the census — so was he transferred to the VRC due to wartime disease or illness? Had Norris C. Bull taken in Marcus Hunter’s family while he was in the Union Army during the US Civil War?

Further research is needed to answer these questions and identify a family or personal relationship. But either way, the details speak highly of Norris C.  and Sabra A. (Howland) Bull for providing housing to a Union veteran and his family.

And Norris certainly had the means — for by 1870 he was also a prosperous Delaware County, New York farmer. More on this in the next post.

To be continued.

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