Bullis Room volunteers continue to focus on Nettie's uncle, John Lapham Bulls, and his military career. This week we read again an article in the PRESERVATION FORT SAME HOUSTON publication titled, "A Visit to Macedon, NY, hometown of BG John Bullis." Here's what it said:
"While in New York for a family wedding, Capt. (Ret) Richard Whynot visited the hometown of General John Lapham Bullis, Macedon, NY and the Bullis Collection at the Macedon Pubic Library. Dick says to understand why a native of a small town in upstate New York became a hero of the Texas Frontier, we need to go back to the 1650's when the Bullis family emigrated from England to the Boston area and then some of the family to Manchester, VT. The Northwest Ordinance in 1797 opened land in western New York and the wealthy and educated bought land in this area, funding cities such as Syracuse, Rochester, and Macedon.
"In 1823, the Erie Canal opened for canal traffic and changed the economy and population of upstate New York. Though the canal was designed to bring raw materials and agricultural products to the eastern markets, upstate New Yorkers soon realized that they could do the manufacturing, and many factories sprang up in the Erie Canal towns. An example is the roll top desk used by BG Bullis, which was made by Standard Furniture Company of Herkimer, NY, located on the Erie Canal. With a ready supply of wood from the local forests, Standard Furniture Company became the largest manufacturer of wooden desks and furniture in the United States. The Hammond typewriter, invented in 1884 and used by Bullis as early as 1889, is another upstate New York product that benefitted from the canal. Other major manufacturing firms that began in the area were Kodak, Xerox and IBM.
"Charles H. Bullis, his wife Eleanor, and their two children left Vermont in November 1837, heading for Ohio and a promised land grant. They went by Erie Canal boat from Troy NY and stopped in Macedon to visit family. After several weeks in Macedon, Charles decided they would stay in the area. He bought 60 acres of land next to lock 61 on the canals. Charles raised wheat, corn and cattle and shipped the harvests to market on the canal. He built a large house with cobblestones collected from his fields. Dick believes that the expert stone masons who had built the canal between 1817 and 1823 stayed and built the Bullis home and many others.
"Abram, one of Charles' sons, became a doctor and married Lydia Porter Lapham, member of another prominent family that had emigrated from England to Rhode Island in 1635, and from there to Macedon. The Laphams built a large brick home in the center of town and called it Waverly Manor after their home estate in England. The children of Dr. Bullis, including John Lapham Bullis, attended Macedon Academy. The academy building is now the headquarters for the Macedon Historical Association.
"Several months before Dick Whynot's visit, the Bullis Estate attorney presented a number of boxes of Bullis data to the Macedon Library Bullis Room. Among these were photos of BG Bullis and his first wife Alice probably taken at the time of their marriage in 1871. The photo was taken by Kuhn Company, Main Plaza, San Antonio, TX. Alice died in 1887.
Another significant find were two letters from Josephine Withers Bullis to John Bullis’ aunt Emma. The first was written in 1890 before their marriage. The second was written in 1898, when they lived in Quarters 2, Fort Sam Houston. In it, Josephine does make clear that she does not support her husband’s deployment to Cuba during the Spanish American War. He left the paymaster job at Fort Sam Houston to fight in the war.
An interesting item in the letter is the reference to Marie de Jesus Olivarri Rodriguez as the Major’s mother-in-law, Alice’s mother. Dick Whynot says this lends credence to his long-held belief that the Withers and Rodriguez families, both Canary Island families, were related and visited each other often.
Dick Whynot’s talk gave us a more personal and intimate understanding of the man for whom Camp Bullis was named.”