Tuesday, April 22, 2014


We're continuing to look at letters in the collection. Below is one from Nettie Bullis's uncle, John Lapham Bullis, who distinguished himself in the Civil War and then continued his military service in the Southwest. Six months before he wrote this letter to Mr. Hoyt, he was breveted a Major in the U.S. Army "...for Gallant services in action against Indians, near Saragossa, Mexico, July 30, 1876, and in action against Indians, in the Burro Mountains, Mexico, May 3, 1881." (The Army and Navy Courier, November, 1926, "The Border Command--Camp Bullis" by Col. Martin L. Crimmins, U.S.A. Retired)

We have not identified the letter's addressee, as far as his connection to the writer or the Bullis family in general. The text indicates a personal as well as business relationship. And John Lapham Bullis felt free to briefly express, in a "p.s.",  his regard for Mr. Hoyt and his loved ones. They must have received this news with mixed feelings--relief that he was safe at the time of writing but concerned that he was in a dangerous place, hoping "...to reach civilization after a time."

"San Carlos Indian Agency, Arizona,
September 16th, 1890

"For Mr. William B. Hoyt,
Attorney At Law,
Buffalo, Erie County, New York

My Dear Sir:-

Yours of the 3rd inst. received and contents noted.


Within a few days, I expect to go to the Railroad, on my way to Texas, for a short trip, and as soon as I reach a Notary I will have a Power of Attorney made out in your name and will mail to your address, at Buffalo with the least possible delay, so as not to delay the process of the law.

Very Truly Yours,
(Signature: John L. Bullis)

P.S. Much love to all. Have had a very hard time here with the Apaches, all of whom are very wild. Have never worked as hard, hope to reach civilization after a time, and if so may then  have the pleasure of meeting you again.Yours.etc. (Initials: J.L.B.)"

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Reading through some of Nettie Bullis's letters that are a part of this collection, we've come to realize what we've lost with the increasing use of email and text messages.

For example, here's the text of a typewritten letter from one of Nettie's friends. (We think you'll enjoy reading it as much as we did.)

"Dear Nettie:

We miss seeing you, very much, since the trolleys stopped running, and I do wish you could come over once in a while. 

If you find you can drop in to a meal any time coming or going, do not hesitate to take "pot luck" with us. We would all be glad to have a sight of you, any time of day or night!

My hopes came up quite a bit this morning,  When we came over the new bridge on the main road to Fairport - and, oh, yes, we came over it the first time on our way home last night.  So I suppose the busses will soon be (some of them at least) coming that way - you know that is not far to walk from our house.

I ran across some verses that made me think of you - so I am sending them - you may be familiar with them.

I also enclose a quotation from a book I have just been reading by Dallas Lore Sharp, which exactly describes my feelings about riding on the train! I do so hate to miss anything.

Please excuse my using the machine. I will try to write a better letter some other day.

Kindest regards from us all.

(Signature) Margaret Wood

November 25, 1931

P.S. Do hope you will enjoy your holiday."

What a great experience to read a real letter again, one that a writer took time to sit down at her typewriter and--using complete sentences--to express her affection and concern for her friend.

There is at least one question that the letter's references generate for us today.  Which current bridge is the  "new bridge on the main road to Fairport" she mentions?  Do any of you know? (Comment: Those of us who are currently dealing with canal bridge closings can relate to the writer's excitement at its opening.)

We assume (and, we hope, correctly) that the trolley reference was to the Rochester, Syracuse, and Eastern Rapid Railroad, which ceased operations during 1931. Understandably, Margaret Wood, Nettie Bullis and other area residents were inconvenienced by the loss of that service.  If any of you have memories to share of the trolley days in this area, please stop by the Bullis Room. We'd love to see you. We'll even show you the original copy of this letter and the enclosures that a woman named Margaret sent to her dear friend, Nettie.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


For several weeks now, we've read with sadness the daily accounts of  two current searches: one in the Indian Ocean, the other in Washington state.  And we are reminded of books in this collection about searches conducted in the past.

One of these books, The Cruise of the Corwin by John Muir, describes the Arctic expedition of 1881 in search of Captain G. W. DeLong and his ship Jeannette, which had set out from San Francisco two years earlier bound for the North Pole. Unfortunately the ship was never found, but John Muir wrote a vivid description of the Arctic that is well worth our time to read. This book was published in 1917 and has plates and a map that supplement the reader's understanding. By the way, the author is the same John Muir who founded the Sierra Club, discovered Glacier Bay, and is considered the father of the national park system.  With our growing concern over the future of our environment, John Muir is a good author for us to read--and reread.

Another book in the collection pertaining to searching is Elisha Kent Kane's Arctic Explorations: The Second Grinnell Expedition in Search of Sir John Franklin, 1853, '54, '55, which was published in 1856.  Elisha Kane was also an American explorer and a member of two Arctic expeditions to rescue the explorer Sir  John Franklin. The searchers did discover Franklin's first winter camp, but never found out what had happened to the fatal expedition. Yet, in spite of the lack of success of the expedition, this is still interesting reading.

Again, we extend an invitation to you to stop by and spend some time with these two books or some of the many others on the Bullis Room shelves.  We'd love to see you.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Yes, we may have 8 to 12 inches of snow on the ground ... but April is right around the corner; thus, it's the time of year for spotting migratory birds who may be passing through our backyards.

And the Bullis Collection has a perfect book to help us identify some of the species we see only as they travel through:

Bird-life: A Guide to the Study of Our Common Birds
by Frank M. Chapman
published by D. Appleton and Co. of New York, in 1903

At the time Chapman wrote this book, he was Curator of Ornithology at the American Museum of Natural History so we can safely say that the man knew what he was writing about. And he included in his book 75 full-page colored plates after drawings by Ernest Thompson Seton (who was one of the founding pioneers of the Boy Scouts, an outdoorsman, artist and author). 

Together, the text and drawings in this book can give even the most novice birdwatcher a leg-up in identifying some of the less-common species. Let us know if you'd like to take a look at Chapman's book. We'll be glad to make arrangements for you to do just that.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


A couple of weeks ago,  the Bullis Committee cancelled its monthly meeting because of a blizzard that roared through Wayne County. Since local authorities advised against traveling by car, we felt justified in taking this action.

However, we later wondered how Nettie Bullis would have handled that situation.  And our conclusion was that  - given her determination and sense of duty - she may well have said, "Well, there's more than one way to travel," then pulled on her snow boots, bundled up, and walked the 2 miles from her home on Canandaigua Road to the library.

As we remember Miss Bullis on her birthday, let's also recall some of the other qualities that made her such a special woman: her generosity, loyalty, respect of education, and business acumen.

Nettie Bullis made a lasting impression on those who knew her and she continues to influence the rest of us through the legacies she left the citizens of Wayne County. Once again we say, "Thank you, Miss Bullis."


Today, on her birthday, we remember 

Jeanette Aurelia ("Nettie") Bullis
March 23, 1893 - October 1, 1979

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Get Ready! Get Set! Now altogether, lets "THINK SPRING."  If we do this enough times, perhaps (well,...just maybe..you never know) the sun will shine more, the soil will warm up, and we can soon get outside and begin our garden clean-up followed by planting those new crops of vegetables and flowers. (And if this doesn't happen "soon," we can be assured that it will happen "later.")

So while we're waiting for this miracle to happen, there are lots of good gardening books on the Bullis shelves that we can look through for ideas and inspiration. Here's just a few:

Bush Fruits by Fred Card (1920)
Lilac Culture by John Wister (1930
The Clematis by Thomas Moore (1877)
Plant Breeding by L. H. Bailey (1906)
Daffodils by Joseph Jacob (?)
Grafting & Budding by Luther Burbank (1921)
Sweet Peas by Horace Wright (?)
The Book of the Iris by Irwin R. Lynch (1904)
Notes on Tulip Species by W. R Dykes (1930)

Please consider this your gilt edge invitation to stop by the Bullis Room and spend some time with a few of these books. And let's all continue to "THINK SPRING."