Thursday, October 23, 2014

A VIEW FROM FORT SAM HOUSTON

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.”

Monday, October 13, 2014

MORE ON CAPTAIN BULLIS, #3

(This is the final entry of the document first posted September 27.)

Mr. Bullis at once returned to his home but soon after entered the regular army and was appointed a lieutenant. For twenty years he has now rendered the country valuable service on the frontier. For nine years he had command of the Indian scouts on the Texas frontier, and was the Government agent for the apaches for four years. His fearless and commendable service among the savage warriors won recognition in the United States Congress, which twice breveted him for his splendid work. The people of Texas who more fully appreciate what he has done for them, presented him with two beautiful swords, one of them ornamented with scenes and designs commemorative of his achievements. The designs are wrought in gold and the sword cost $1000. The captain prized it still more highly because the poor people whom he had protected and whose homes he had made safe were the contributers to the gift fund, giving of their meager possessions as evidence of the gratitude and love which they had for the Captain. On the sword are two inscriptions one reading “He has protected our lives and homes” another “He has driven the desperado from our territory”. In speaking of his gift the Captain modestly said “I did nothing but my duty”, but it was a duty heroicly and nobly performed, nay it was more, for on the frontier as he entered into combat with the treacherous savage he did not think I am doing my duty but was prompted to his noble deeds by the thought that he must save the lives and homes of his fellow men.
         Captain Bullis has accumulated some property, owning interests in mines in Texas and Arizona, some of which are now being operated. He has a very pleasant home in Santa Fe, where he makes his head quarters in the midst of his family. He was married in San Antonio, Texas, in 1872, to Miss Alice Rodregnez, but death claimed her on the 14th of August, 1887. On the 14th of October, 1891, he led to the marriage altar Miss Josephine Withers of San Antonio, and this union has been blessed with three lovely little daughters – Lydia C. and Anita W., twins, and the baby, Octavia M. The Captain makes friends wherever he goes for he is as man of genial, kindly disposition, whose genuine worth is easily recognized and who is in the truest sense of the word a gentleman. In politics he is a republican, and in his social relations is a Mason.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

MORE ON CAPTAIN BULLIS, #2

(This is a continuation of the document first posted September 27.)

Captain Bullis, who is so successful in the management of these wards of the Government, is a native of New York, his birth having occurred in Macedon, Wayne county, on the 17th of April, 1841. He traces his ancestry back to England, whence came members of the family at an early day in the history of this country to become pioneers of Vermont and participators in the work of development and progress in New England, as well as patriots in the war for independence. The Captain’s father, Dr. Abram R. Bullis, was born in the green Mountain State, and married Miss Lydia P. Lapham, who was born in Wayne county, New York. After his marriage he engaged in the practice of medicine in the Empire State, where he made his home until his death, which occurred in the spring of 1867. His wife passed away  in 1862, leaving a family of three sons and three daughters, but only two are now living.

         Captain Bullis is the eldest of the family. He acquired his elementary education  in the public schools, then attended an academy of his native town and also pursued his studies in the Lima Academy, but ere he had completed his course the Civil War came on and he responded to the President’s call for troops to aid in crushing out the rebellion. In august, 1862, he joined the boys in blue of Company H, One Hundred Twenty-sixth New York Infantry, and after his enlistment was made a corporal. He served in the Army of the Potomac and in the Army of the James, and participated in many hard fought engagements, valiantly defending the old flag and the cause it represented. He was captured at Harpers Ferry in September, 1862, where 11, 500 Union soldiers surrendered to Stonewall Jackson. They were paroled on the field and afterward exchanged and Captain Bullis once more rejoined his command. On the 3rd of July, 1863, he was again captured at the battle of Gettysburg, and for three months was confined in Richmond prison, when he was again paroled and exchanged. Immediately he re-entered the field to continue with his regiment until the war was ended. He had many narrow escapes and saw much hard fighting, but his meritorious service and bravery on the field of battle won him promotion to the rank of Captain. He was mustered out of the volunteer service on the 6th of February, 1866, - one of the brave boys in blue who had valiantly stood for the preservation of the union until its safety was assured.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

MORE ON CAPTAIN BULLIS, #1

Bullis Room volunteers are continuing to go through papers that came our way from Texas sources, and this week we focused on a document that was written when John Lapham Bullis resided in the  Santa Fe New Mexico Territory between 1893 and 1897. We'll share this with you in the next two or three posts, so that you can get a sense of this period in the life of Captain Bullis. Here is the first paragraph:

"CAPTAIN JOHN L. BULLIS, of the United States Army, who is now residing in Santa Fe, and filling the position of Indian agent for the Pueblo & Jicarilla Indians, is one of the most honored and esteemed citizens of New Mexico. He occupies a position which is indeed responsible – a position which demands calm and wise judgement as well as bravery and fearlessness. He has charge of some 9000 Indians belonging to the Pueblo tribe and living in some nineteen villages. The Jicarillas number less than 1000 and are located on a reservation. This agency is located in the northwest part of the Territory of New Mexico, where they have 400,000 acres of land and during the year 1894 the Government maintained five day schools and several contract schools, managed by the Catholics, also a boarding school at Bernalillo where seventy-five Indian girls are instructed. This school is also managed by the Catholics. The Pueblo Indians are generally self-supporting and receive but little aid from the government other than the maintenance of the schools before mentioned. The Jicarilla Indians are the wildest in the Territory and receive rations and other supplies weekly. A boarding school is soon to be established in the agency, in the hope that civilizing processes may have their influence upon this wild tribe. The Pueblos also own large tracts of land which were given them by the Spanish government, and which was patented to them by the United States Government as Pueblo lands to be held in common. The Indians who are under the charge of Captain Bullis are as a rule well satisfied and are making some progress toward civilization, particularly along the line of educating their children."

Friday, September 19, 2014

TREES

We volunteers have been talking a lot about trees the last few months--family trees, that is. But that started us thinking about the books in the collection on the subject of those things with trunks, branches, twigs and leaves. So we did a search and came up with several volumes that we are recommending to you for "leafing" through.

First, there's Our Native Trees and How to Identify Them; A Popular Study of Their Habits and Their Peculiarities. This book was written by Harriet Louise Keeler in 1900 and is a good one to reference if you want to identify a new tree sprouting in your back yard that doesn't look familiar.

There are two other books we recommend to you, if you're looking for a good reference on trees: Handbook of the Trees of the Northern States and Canada East of the Rocky Mountains, by Romeyn Beck, published in Lowville NY in 1907; and, A Guide to the Trees by American botanist Alice Lounsberry, published in 1900.   Lounsberry's book is especially enjoyable to look through because of the detailed illustrations by Mrs. Ellis Rowan.

So you are invited to stop by the Bullis Room and spend some time with these books (and others) on trees.  Hope to see you soon.



Thursday, September 4, 2014

A YEAR IN THE FIELDS; Selections from the Writings of John Burroughs

This Bullis book by John Burroughs is a must-read for this time of year. The passage below will show you what we mean.

"...September may be described as the month of tall weeds. Where they have been suffered to stand, along fences, by roadsides, and in forgotten corners--redroot, pigweed, ragweed, vervain, goldenrod, burdock, elecampane, thistles, teasels, nettles, asters, etc.--how they lift themselves up as not afraid to be seen now! They are all outlaws; every man's hand is against them; yet how surely they hold their own! They love the roadside because here they are comparatively safe; and ragged and dusty, like the common tramps that they are, they form one of the characteristic features of early fall."

As we sneeze and cough as a result of the pollen from these tall weeds, let's remember that they are the tall weeds of September.  And this time of year simply would not be the same without them.

There are essays describing all of the seasons in this book (published in Boston by Houghton Mifflin in 1897).  You're invited to stop by and spend some relaxing time,  reading and looking at the photographs and illustrations.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

COUNTRY SCHOOLS

This is the last week before the first day of school for elementary and high school students in the area. To coincide with this event, the Friends of MPL are offering a program entitled "Country Schools" at 6 PM, September 10 in the Community Room of the library. Carolyn Adriaansen, Marion Town Historian, will be sharing her knowledge of area country schools of the past. You are all invited to attend. (We guarantee you'll enjoy Carolyn's presentation, delivered with her wonderful sense of humor.)

To get us in the mood, we looked for Bullis school books and found this one that was used in one of the country schools that Carolyn will be talking about:

Graded Literature Readers--Fifth Book
Published in 1900 by Charles E. Merrill Co. 
Edited by Harry Pratt Judson LLD, President of the University of Chicago and 
Ida C. Bender, Supervisor of Primary Grades in the Public Schools of Buffalo, New York

Among fifteen or so stories in this reader is the short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The Old-Fashioned School" which is accompanied with this illustration:


Doesn't this make you thankful that you didn't live back in "those days"? Join us on September 10 for the "Country Schools" presentation--and find out what else we can be thankful for!