Monday, January 19, 2015


An article on today lists "5 Ways to Honor the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr." They are:

Give something
Learn something
Teach something
Commit to something
Dream something

And so to honor Rev. King, some of us Bullis Room volunteers are focusing on the second item in this list and suggesting that all of us take a look at this 168-year-old Bullis book:

First lessons in civil government, 
including a comprehensive view of the government of the state of New York, and an abstract of the laws, showing the rights, duties, and responsibilities of citizens in the civil and domestic relations, with an outline of the government of the United States : adapted to the capacities of children and youth, and designed for the use of schools,
Published in New York by M. H. Newman, 1847,
12th edition, revised and adapted to the new constitution

Knowing what "rights, duties and responsibilities of citizens..." were taught to our ancestors two centuries past, we can have a better appreciation and understanding of Rev. King's civil rights legacy.

This week, you're invited to stop by the Bullis Room and learn something new from this rare book.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Actually, this one is turning 108 this year since it was published in 1907.  This week we are focusing on:

  Practical Mechanical Engineering; 
A Comrehensive Treatise on Steam Machinery and Apparatus, Compressed Air, 
Refrigerating Machinery, Hydraulic Elevators, Gas and Oil Engines, Turbines, etc.
Author: Carl S. Dow
Published: Philadelphia, The American Text-Boo Company, 1907

According to a recent newspaper article, practical household refrigerators were introduced in 1915. If you're curious about the technology used to produce this basic and indispensable household appliance, consider stopping by and taking a look at this book in the Bullis Room shelves.

Author Dow's book will give all of us a greater appreciation of the technology that produced the modern appliance that we occasionally enjoy raiding around midnight.  (Raiding a cabinet just wouldn't be the same.)

So ... please stop by.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


Looking at the Bullis books that were published in 1915 gives us an idea of what the family was "into" way back then. In scanning the list, we found two books that would have been of particular interest to Charlie Bullis:

Field Book of American Trees and Shrubs
Author: F. Mathews
Published: New York, 1915


Author: C. L. Allen
Published: New York, 1915

In 1915 Charlie Bullis would have been 24 years old, serving his country in World War I.  Afterward the war,  he returned home and devoted himself to projects conducted on the family's Canandaigua Road property.  Horticulture was one of his areas of expertise, and there is a significant number of books on this subject in the collection. 

If you, too, have a green thumb (or aspire to that status), we suggest you stop by the Bullis Room and look at some of the horticulture books in the collection. The two we've listed above would be a good place to start.

Hope to see you soon.

Postscript: If you'd like to read more about Charlie Bullis, here's a link to our April 2, 2009 post:

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Being bombarded daily with advertisements urging us to buy expensive holiday gifts again reminds us of the Bullis family's emphasis on frugality.  One example of this trait is Nettie Bullis's evening meals that consisted of a bologna sandwich and a pint of milk, even though she could have afforded to eat gourmet meals; Charlie Bullis's used-book purchases at area garage and barn sales is another.

It has been said that Charlie Bullis could often be seen at these sales, carting off bags or even boxes of books that were someone else's castoffs. The phrase "one person's trash, another person's treasure" certainly describes a number of rare books that ended up in the Bullis Collection as a result of Mr. Bullis's love of books and his equal love of frugality.

The family's thrift resulted in an estate that Nettie Bullis left to benefit her home town and county. And Charlie Bullis's focus on acquiring used books resulted in a more interesting collection.  We thank both of them for these gifts of thrift.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Digging through and organizing folders this week, we came across a document titled "JOHN LAPHAM BULLIS, Letters to his Mother, Mrs. Dr. A. H. Bullis"  followed by a list of dates and synopses of some of Bullis's correspondence with his mother between November 1863 and February, 1867.

We had looked over this document a year or so ago, and this morning, we reread the entry titled "3 Dec 1865."  At that time John Lapham Bullis was in the 118th Infantry, which was located in "Brownsville, opposite Matamoros." The entry reads:

"Near mouth of Rio Grande. Across the river, Maximilianists still determined to hold out against Liberalists. Fearful they will be successful, as L's badly equipped. But L's captured a vessel and turned it over to Americans. French Commodore demanded it be delivered to Imperialists. (Not done) at Bagdad and also captors of it but Weitzel would not and secret orders to guard same. Health good. Johnnie."

We are puzzled by this entry and would appreciate any information and insight that would help explain exactly what happening on the Texas-Mexico border, 149 years ago today--both from the standpoint of our nation's history as well as John Lapham Bullis's personal and professional life.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


The next time you're in the library, we suggest you stop by and take a look at these two Bullis books:

The Pilgrim Fathers of New England: A History


A History of the English Puritan

Both of these books were written by W. Carlos Martyn and published in New York by the American Tract Society, in 1867.

We suggest, however, that you take more than just  "a look." Rather, read through the introductions, look carefully at the detailed names and descriptions of the chapters, and zero in  on some of the subtopics. Why? Because these books give us an in-depth, nineteenth century look back at the beginning of this country: starting with the Pilgrim experience in Europe (England and Holland) and their search for a new colony. 

In the preface of The Pilgrim Fathers of New England: A History, Martyn writes: "...however well history may have been written, it is desirable that it should be re-written from time to time by those who look from an advanced position, giving in every age to the peculiar and marked developments of the past, a simple, compact and picturesque representation." Martyn accomplished this by giving us his 1860s perspective of events that occurred over 200 years in the past.

Martyn wrote for those of us who look to the past with the possibility of gaining a new perspective of the present.  Is that why we, in general, write books? and collect volumes of them? and put them in special places like the Bullis Room?  (Something to think about as you digest your Thanksgiving meal today.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


This week we've been reading through the article "John L. Bullis: 'Farsighted and Keen' Trans-Pecos Land Speculator" by Jim Fenton,  published in  the Journal of Big Bend Studies, Vol. 2, January 1990 (pages 73-86).  This article focuses on "... the remarkable business success of one of the most accomplished Indian fighters in Texas."

The author points out that JLB's interest in business got an early start with his trapping activities while still a teenager. There is also a record of his having owned a horse and a flock of sheep during that time. Following his service in the Civil War, "mid-1866,  found Bullis on Saint Francis Island, within the Mississippi River channel and near the mouth of the Saint Francis River in Arkansas, selling firewood to the steam boats moving along the Mississippi."

Records show that in early 1867 he continued his wood business in Helena, Arkansas. Later that same year, he re-entered the Army in  the Twenty-fourth Infantry Regiment as a second lieutenant and was sent to Texas where he became involved in land speculation. "His land holdings reached an all-time high in 1883, slightly over fort-three sections."  Then in 1884, "... he nearly matched this figure buying thirty-nine and a half sections." He continued to purchase land and property in various parts of Texas over the next several years, and profited from the leasing and resale of these holdings to cattlemen and settlers. He also became involved in mining operations.

At the time, this article tells us that many wondered how much JLB was worth as a result of this business dealings. A former clerk on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation who worked for Bullis, "... recalled years later that Captain Bullis was understood to be a millionaire."

Other members of the Bullis family also exhibited exceptional business acumen during their lifetimes.  Like her Uncle John, Nettie Bullis also achieved financial success. And fortunately, she shared her wealth during her lifetime and left a lasting legacy for her community.

Again, we thank Nettie Bullis and her family for their wise and thoughtful generosity.