Tuesday, July 21, 2015


At our Bullis Room Committee meeting last week, we again talked about how to reach out to more members of the Bullis family. One suggestion was a Facebook page in honor and memory of John Lapham Bullis.  The group liked the idea - and we are currently working on it. (More details will be coming in the next few weeks.)

Our first step toward establishing a Facebook page was to search for current Facebook accounts with the Bullis name.  The results was an impressive list that included "Bullis School."  In reading the history of that educational institution located in Potomac, Maryland, we zoomed in on the name "Captain William F. Bullis." Captain Bullis and his wife founded this school in 1930 to "prepare young men for service academy entrance exams." (www.bulls.org/page/cfm?p=538)
The school continues to thrive today.

However, this new knowledge produced several questions that are now swirling through our heads, two of which are:
1. Is Captain William F. Bullis in any way related to the Macedon Bullises?
2. If so, does Captain Bullis have living descendants?

And a third question we're asking:
3. If you are a descendant of Captain William F. Bullis (or have knowledge of any of his descendants). would you please contact us?

We will greatly appreciate any information about the Bullis family that you can share with us.

Monday, July 13, 2015


This post 's heading is the title of a book in the Bullis collection. Actually, the full title is:

Report of the Commissioner of Patents for the Year 1851.
Part II.  Agriculture
Published in Washington, Robert Armstrong, Printer, 1852

There are three other Report of the Commissioner of Patents in the Bullis collection. HOWEVER, this book has a local connection. It contains a letter from a Macedon, Wayne County, New York resident, J. J. Thomas, dated January 10, 1852. He begins with:

"Sir: I send a few brief replies to some of the questions in the Agriculture Circular of the Patent Office, regretting that I have been prevented from furnishing them sooner by unavoidable causes."

His first response was titled "Wheat Culture," and he noted that "a great loss is sustained by most of the farmers in the northern portion of western New York through shallow cultivation."  He then recommended trench ploughing in order to mix the richer subsoil with the top, He also noted that  the field of one farmer using this method went from 5 bushels per acre to 20. (He also noted that 40 bushels per acre was a very common product when the land was first cleared of the forests.)

His next topic was "Sowing Grass Seed" and he suggested methods that had the potential of bringing 3 1/2 tons per acre, perhaps even up to 5 tons per acre.  Again, he supported his suggestions with specific ways to accomplish them.

Last, he responded to a question about "Breaking Steers," and gave step-by-step instructions on how to accomplish this feat. He noted that, "Very objectionable is the frequent practice of educating oxen to the sound of a loud voice, or a scream, in commanding them, and the free use of the lash in enforcing orders." The following description could today be described as "Methods of an Oxen Whisperer." 

With the third response completed, he signed is letter "Very respectfully, J. J. Thomas."

We would love to find out more about J. J. Thomas. If any of you have information about this early Macedon resident, please let us know. (We looked in Pioneers of Macedon and found only one Thomas listed--Evan Thomas, "an eminent minister of the Society of Friends ...", page 78.) We're looking forward to hearing from you!

Saturday, July 4, 2015


Surrounded by celebrations, get-togethers, and fireworks, we are wondering how the Bullis family members observed this day. Did they watch the local parade and listen to the concert in the park? Participate in watermelon-eating contests? Run a 3-legged race? Watch fireworks at night? Perhaps.

Or, perhaps they spent the day with one or both of these books that were a part of their family library and are now a part of the Bullis Collection.

A Popular School History of the United States:
in which are inserted as part of the narrative selections from the writings of 
eminent American historians, and other American writers of note: 
to which are added the Declaration of Independence, and the
Constitution of the United States, with copious notes:
fully illustrated with maps, portraits and views
By John Jacob Anderson
Published in New York by Clark & Maynard, 1883, c. 1879

The Elector's Guide:
Comprising the Declaration of Independence, 
the Constitution of the United States, 
the constitution of the state of New York, and
Washington's Farewell Address.
To which is added an essay on government.
Published in Batavia by A. W. Young, 1835

You too have the opportunity to look through these books and read again these documents that are the basis of our country's foundation.  Just stop by the Bullis Room, next time you're at MPL.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


A new exhibit at the Rochester Museum  and Science Center - titled "The American Civil War: the Impact of the Industrial Revolution" - recently opened and will run through January, 2016. It commemorates the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War.  Many items are on display from the museum's collection, including: Civil War swords, rifles, tents, flags, diaries and photographs.

After you've experienced this interesting exhibit,  we invite you to take a look at this Bullis book:

Statistical Record of the Armies of the United States
By Frederick Phisterer, Late Captain U. S. Army
Published by Charles Scribner's Sons, 1883

The comprehensive data in this book was "compiled from Army orders, registers of regulars and volunteers, reports of the Provost-Marshall, and the Adjutant-General U.S. Army, Medical History of the Rebellion, and other sources."

In Part I, the "Calls for Troops" on April 15, 1861 on page 3 shows data for 26 states, both their quota and men actually furnished.  Later  calls for troops are enumerated on several more pages, with a summary for the war on page 10. Military divisions, strength of the Army at various dates, as well as national cemeteries, are covered in the following pages.

Part II lists the chronological record of engagements,  battles etc. from 1861 to 1865, and general officers of the Armies during the "War of the Rebellion" are covered in Part III.

So there you have it - an exhibit and a book to enhance your knowledge and appreciation of the events of the Civil War. (And there are more books on the Civil War in the Bullis collection. We're always glad to help you access them.)

Sunday, June 14, 2015


Last week's post referred to information gleaned from the Bullis Room collection, to wit: "Much of the necessary documentation for the historic marker was provided by materials in the Bullis Room...."

Because so many of you indicated interest in the June 9th topic,  this week we are including a few of the railroading books in the Bullis Room that are available for your research and enjoyment. We say "a few" because there are lots of them. We'll give you a partial list and let you stop by and discover the rest.

Before embarking on any new project, we normally ask, "But what is this going to cost me?"  Therefore, we thought you'd want to take a look at:

The Economic Theory of the Location of Railways;
An Analysis of the Conditions Controlling the Laying Out of Railways ... 
By A. M. (Arthur Mellen) Wellington
Published in New York by J. Wiley & Sons, 1887

Then if we ask, "Is there a less expensive alternative to railroads?" we can find an answer (based on the year 1911 conditions) in this American Railroad's publication:

The Cost of Transportation on the Erie Canal and By Rail
By Association of American Railroads, 
Published in Washington D.C. by Bureau of Railway Economics, 1911

And there's also a book for those of us who want to find out more about how railroads are surveyed and constructed:

The Railroad Engineer's Practice:
Being a Short but Complete Description of the Duties of the
Young Engineer in Preliminary and Location Surveys and in Construction
by Thomas M. Cleeman
Published in New York by Engineering News Publ. Co., 1883

So there you have it -- three out of more than a dozen books on the topic of railroads. If you spend some time with them, you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Research enables grant for historic marker

Did you know that the Bullis Collection holds many  publications of our state and local governments? On May 31 we attended the unveiling of this historic marker made possible in part by researching the Bullis Collection.  The photo on the left is retired railroad engineer, H.P. Zerbe, who actually operated the train on this route between Stanley and Sodus Point.  Much of the necessary documentation for the historic marker was provided by materials in the Bullis Room for Tim Wilbur, President of Ontario Pathways, who applied for the grant.  A fellow railroad lover, Dr. Robert Ward had previously done research in the Bullis Room and shared with Mr. Wilbur about the rich railroad resources there. The William G. Pomeroy Foundation provided the grant for the marker.  It is the Foundation's belief "that historic markers play an important role in local historic preservation by serving a dual purpose. They educate the public and foster historic tourism, which in turn can provide economic benefits to the town and villages where the markers are placed." - from Mr. Wilbur's Press Release for marker unveiling.  The Ontario Pathways trailhead is located on Rt.96 between State Route 488 and Rt.8.  This is a repurposing of the railroad track bed into a trail pathway -creating a multi-use rails-to-trails pathway.  Ontario Pathways, Inc. is a non profit organization that owns and maintains 23 miles of rail-trail in Ontario County NY.  Their mission is to create and maintain a network of walking trails that residents and visitors can enjoy year-round. Volunteers work hard to maintain trails, repair bridges and trim brush to keep trails open for visitors. Part of the Rails to Trails Conservancy, Ontario Pathways gives the public free access to beautiful nature trails that stretch from Canandaigua to Phelps. You will find contact and events information on Facebook.

Sunday, June 7, 2015


For those of us who have plans this summer to sail around the world (or at least a small portion of it), these Bullis books give an historical perspective of  one of our greatest natural resources--our oceans.

A Voyage in the "Sunbeam";  Our Home on the Ocean for Eleven Months
(First published in 1878  under the title Around the World in the Yacht "Sunbeam")
by Annie Allnutt Brassey, Baroness
Published in New York by John Turtler Lovell, 1881

An Historical Account of the Circumnavigation of the Globe,
and of the progress of discovery in the Pacific Ocean, from the
voyage of Magellan to the death of Cook
Published in New York by Harper Brothers, 1839

A Voyage Round the World in the Years 
1800, 1801, 1802, 1803, and 1804;
in which the author visited the principal islands in the
Pacific Ocean and the English settlements of 
Port Jackson and Norfolk Island
by John Turnbull
Published in Philadelphia by Benjamin and Thomas Kite, 1810

So before you leave for the shore this summer, you're invited to stop by the Bullis Room and look through these books (and others like them).  We think you'll appreciate your time at the ocean more, as a result.

FYI: Tomorrow is World Oceans Day. There are lots of suggestions online for observing this special day. Perhaps you'd like to choose one or two to focus on for the rest of this year. (One that we think Nettie Bullis would have liked is reusing plastic shopping bags.  How simple is that?)