Wednesday, September 13, 2017


Within the last three weeks, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have resulted in destruction, injuries, and loss of life.  They have also resulted in many acts of heroic rescues.

The Bullis Collection has a number of books on heroes and rescues.  However, since there are so many children (from 1 to 100 years old) who are affected by these storms, we zeroed in on the one book age-appropriate that was for that group ... and here it is:

Arthur Mee's Hero Book;
A Companion Volume to Little Treasure Island
Author: Arthur Mee (1875-1943)
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton, London (1921)

This book includes stories of 12 heroes, including:
 Abraham Lincoln, Captain Cook, Robert Louis Stevenson, 
Benjamin Harrison and Ordinary folk

We especially enjoyed the chapter on the "ordinary" folk who made heroic rescues. And we highly recommend that section (as well as the whole book!) to you. 

So ... the next time you're in Macedon Public Library, we once again invite you to stop by and take a look at Arthur Mee's Hero Book and all the others on the shelves in the Bullis Room.

Monday, September 4, 2017


Due to 13-year-old Charlie Bullis's three entries in his diary for September 5, 1904, we know what the Bullis Family was doing on Labor Day 117 years ago:

"Clarence plowed for wheat and papa fixed the roof for sheet iron on the west side of the house. "

"The weather was nice."

"12 skelletins were dug out on emery bealses."

These entries tell us a number of things about the Bullises:

First, they were farmers and no matter what the holiday, they did the chores that needed to be taken care of on the farm.

Second, they maintained the condition of their houses and farm buildings "around the place" with routine upkeep.

Third, they maintained contact with their neighbors, and also appeared to take in stride the discovery of skeletons on the Beals' place.

Last ... Happy Labor Day, 2017!

(Oh -  by the way  -  if any of you have any information you want to share about the Emery Beals family and/or the identity of the skeletons found in 1904, we'd love to hear from you!)

Friday, August 4, 2017


Below are excerpts from young Charlie Bullis's diary, which he wrote on lined paper, when he was 13 years old.  His entries paint a picture of a busy household. We hope you enjoy reading them.

"Thursday   JUNE 16, 1904
Clarance cultivated corn and papa
surveyed the mill pond.  we had
letuce and we hoed in the
"Friday   JUNE 17
Clarance cultivated corn.
papa surveyed the mill pond
and went to Palmyra. 
we hoed in the garden  we had Littuce
"Saturday  June 18
Clarance cultivated potatoes and
Papa went to a law suit and papa and I
went to the other place and got a role of wire
The weather was fine  we had
some lettuce radish & onions and
we hoed in the garden. 

"Sunday  June 19 1904 
The weather was nice and papa put up
some boxes for books and we watched cows 

"Monday  June 20  1904 
In the forenoon papa clarance
nettie and I put up the wire fence
and took down the wire fence
between the cow pasture and the
oats  in the afternoon the
men fixed fence at the other
place and we had a hard thunger
storm.  we had Lettuce for dinner.
there was a rainbow

"Tuesday  JUNE 21, 1904
Papa went to the kent gravel pit. The
early potatoes blossomed and among them
was wonder queen.   we had the first
mills Earliest Lettuce along with other.
Grandma came up in the afternoon and
Brought 3 qts of straw berries and toward

Night we had the thunder storms.

"Wednesday  July 20 1904
Clarance and I finished drawing hay on this
place and cultivated potatoes in the fore noon
we had a nice mess of peas for dinner and
2 cucumbers.  The lima beans that I got Christmas
began blossoming.  papa and clarance
unloaded the hay and clarance brought
the binder from the other place and
we fixed it some.  Nettie was sick."

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Pages 19-21, Susan Crowley's Document: Bullis House: Home of a Notable Family

The Restoration

     "The Town of Macedon could not use the Bullis House for offices so, in 1983, the house was acquired by the Landmark Society of Western New York. After the exterior of the house was restored, the society sold the house and its six acres to Thomas Klonick in 1984. He and his wife painstakingly restored the interior and replaced the rear wing with a modern kitchen and family room.

     "As much as could be was restored to its original condition. The fireplace mantels, doors, moldings, and floors were carefully refinished as was the simple  cherry staircase railing with newel post, a diamond shaped light wood inlaid in the post.   Although porcelain knobs adorn most of the doors, the original door hardware is on the door leading off the hall, an iron bar-release latch with a round brass knob.

     "With the exception of the completely modernized rear wing, the first floor of the Bullis House is authentically like it was originally. Nothing was added or taken away to mar the clean, simple lines of the original. A powder room, study, and small bedroom are located behind the living room, hall, and dining room. Upstairs behind the two large bedrooms, the corresponding small rear rooms were made into two walk through closets, a bathroom, and a nursery.
     "The Klonick's found the Bullis House interior in horrendous condition, cosmetically, but structurally very sound. Even with new plumbing, electrical and heating systems, the new owners made every effort to conceal their installations and even retained the old iron heat registers.  Much of the restoration work was done personally by the owners. The addition of stone walks, front steps, and a handsome brick patio adjacent to the rear wing not only beautified the house but made use of the piles of stones and bricks left over from the early construction of the house. The owners found these bricks and stones a short distance from the house covered with nearly a century and a half of dirt, poison ivy, and weeds. The walks, steps, and patio embellish the beautiful exterior.

     "The windows and doors were saved from the original wooden structure and used in the new rear wing. Some of the windows have panes of hand blown glass. "ARB" (Abraham R. Bullis) is scratched on one of the panes.

     "During the exterior restoration a small archaeological excavation was conducted at the Bullis House in an effort to establish a date of construction for the wooden rear wing. The study dated it sometime between 1835-1845.  Among the interesting fragments of glass, china, and wood were fragments of J&G Meakin ironstone china, a shard of c.1830 dark blue Staffordshire transfer printed ware, and a fragment of painted lath with evidence of a stenciled border on it. These fragments give an idea of what the original Bullis family used and liked in decorating. The small shell button, a slate pencil, and a hard rubber comb, uncovered in the excavation, help establish a connection with those who lived in the Bullis House when it was fresh and new.

     "In 1987 the house was sold again and the new owners, with permission from the Landmark Society, added an attractive herb garden behind the rear wing. They maintain the property with pristine care and enjoy the ambiance of the past but profess to have no ghosts.

     "The huge red pine tree, believed to have been planted when the house was built, stands as a silent sentinel over the place. The spring bulbs and oriental poppies remain in their proper placss surrounding the house. No Bullis' haunt the quiet scene but their stalwart spirit remains as a legacy to the town, beginning with Charles H. Bullis who opened the book of life for the Bullis family in Macedon and ending with Nettie Bullis who refused to close it."

Saturday, July 15, 2017


Pages 15-18, Susan Crowley's Document: Bullis House: Home of a Notable Family

     "Among the graduates in the 1911 class of Macedon High School was Nettie Aurelia Bullis, daughter of Abraham R. Bullis. Her valedictory was entitled, "Life Like Every Other Blessing Derives Its Value from Its Use."  Nettie Bullis lived by the message she delivered at her commencement.

     "Nettie enrolled and attended Cornell University but never completed her degree, a fact she often alluded to with regret. After a relatively short stay, whether from homesickness or some other reason, she returned home to Macedon. A well-disciplined woman, talented and ambitious, Nettie found work as a bookkeeper at the Gleason Works in Rochester. She held that position for about ten years and was seriously contemplating a change to work for the Buffalo, Rochester, and Pittsburgh Railroad Company headquartered in Rochester until advancement within the Gleason Works presented itself and she decided to remain there. She continued her diligent climb up the corporate ladder and became the first woman treasurer of the Gleason Works.

     "Miss Bullis was described as tall and willowy, with beautiful dark eyes and brown hair. She was stately and ladylike, always wearing a hat and gloves. Nettie was quiet but friendly in her business setting, enjoying the friendship of the other employees but holding them at arm's length when they shyly suggested visiting her at her home in Macedon. Perhaps the rundown appearance of the cobblestone house and Charles' growing reclusive lifestyle made Nettie reluctant to extend any hospitality. This and her own ambition kept her quite aloof but ready to help any employee who needed her. A former Gleason Works employee remembered the many kindnesses and good advice Miss Bullis Extended to the young and inexperienced. She was never too busy to lend a helping hand and was more than willing to share her expertise with the uninitiated.

       "Until after World War II, Nettie Bullis commuted to her work in Rochester with another Gleason employee from Macedon. One commuter remembers Nettie Bullis as she appeared early each morning; in summer picking her way through Charlie's waves of flowers, and lighting her way with a flashlight through the unbroken snow in winter. Her hat and gloves were in place and the ever-present briefcase held smartly in her hand. Her style of dress was plain and businesslike with few changes over the years. On the evening drive home, a short stop would be made at the grocery store so that Nettie could buy her simple supper, usually two slices of bologna, sometimes bread, and always a pint bottle of milk.

     "The pressures of her responsible position at Gleason Works did not hamper Nettie Bullis' love of reading and the stock market. Through careful planning, saving, and wise investments she became a wealthy woman, spending little of what she accumulated. After World War II and the death of her mother in 1954 Nettie spent more of her time in Rochester, living in the modest but pleasant apartment she kept on Park Avenue. The cobblestone house became increasingly run down during this period and brother Charles less approachable about the repair and upkeep of the house. Nettie knew that she and her bother were aging and that upon their deaths, the Bullis House would have run out of Bullis' to live in it. The valuable library which filled three rooms of the house was of special concern to Nettie and she wanted it to be preserved, perhaps with the notion that others would get to know the Bullis family through their choice of books.

     "When Charles Rogers Bullis died in 1974, Nettie tried to make intelligent decisions about her family home and the fortune she had amassed. After consulting with her attorney, she decided to leave the Bullis House and acreage to the Town of Macedon. The books would be housed in a special room in Macedon Library, which she paid to have built and endowed. A park would be established  on land north of the Bullis House and she hoped the town would use the house for town offices.

     "Miss Bullis designated a substantial amount of money for the education of Macedon students. The most generous is a fund which enables each graduate of Palmyra-Macedon High School who proves himself capable of earning at least a C average after one semester of college, the opportunity to receive a Bullis Scholarship. This amounts to about two hundred dollars per student and is renewable each year for four years. Other educational endowments include the Chair in Mathematics at Cornell University in honor of her father, a scholarship at RIT for engineering students, and a medical school grant to honor her grandfather. All of these scholarships are given after a student has shown aptitude and achievement.

     "The Bullis Trust Fund is another example of Nettie Bullis' generosity. This fund, which is guided by a Macedon committee of King's Daughters, is provided to help individuals cope with unforeseen financial emergencies. Children and the elderly have been the  most frequent recipients of the Bullis Trust Fund.
     "In the late 1970's Nettie Bullis' health began to fail. She knew she did not have the strength or time to restore the cobblestone house in her lifetime. Sensing that the time was near when no Bullis would live in the house, she designated money to be used for its restoration. As her health continued to deteriorate it was obvious that she and her nurses could not remain in the house with such primitive facilities. By special permission from the Town of Macedon, a modern mobile home was brought in and parked on the north lawn of the house. It was placed so that Nettie could look out at the beloved Bullis House until she, the last Macedon Bullis, died on October 1, 1979."

Thursday, July 6, 2017


Pages 10 -14, Susan Crowley's Document: Bullis House: Home of a Notable Family

Charles R. Bullis

     "The tall, lean man wearing a long overcoat and tall rubber boots was a familiar sight as he made his daily trek from Canandaigua Road to the village of Macedon. Charlie Bulls was considered eccentric but pleasant by his friends and acquaintances. They regarded him as another of the talented Bullis'.

     "Charles Rogers Bullis was born in the cobblestone house in 1891 and lived there all of his life except for the time he served in World War I.  Following graduation from Macedon High School, he taught at District #2 school in the Town of Walworth. In 1913, Charles made application to Cornell University, passing the entrance examination, but never attending the university.

     "Mr. Bullis became a renowned botanist by extensive self study, reading, and experimentation. His expertise was respected and his advice sought by other botanists throughout North America. His urge to share knowledge with others is evident in the contributions Charles R. Bullis made to horticulture bulletins and journals. One of these papers is respectfully referred to by a Canadian forest-tree geneticist in material gathered around the Bullis House and its prolific flowers.

    "Frugality is the adjective often used and thought of in regard to Charlie Bulls. A man of simple tastes, he favored peanut butter and brown sugar sandwiches. His habit of making the rounds of Rochester bakeries for stale breads and pastries was well known. These items, soaked in warm water, were made good as new. Dry cereal was another favorite food and the empty boxes were recycled into filing boxes for business purposes. Charles Rogers Bullis inherited the New England thriftiness of his ancestors. He lived by the old Yankee adage, 'Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.' Thrift was a source of pride to Charlie, who once remarked innocently to friends that one year he was able to live on only forty-five dollars.

     "It may have been the heavy financial losses Mr. Bullis suffered in the 1929 Crash that further increased his closeness. He shared the information that he was all but wiped out financially in 1929, but what he was able to salvage, he put right back to work in the stock market. He enjoyed the wheeling and dealing of the market activity, watching with interest as his fortunes turned back to the plus side.  The study and gambling seemed more important to Charlie than the actual dollar value. Money rarely left Charlie's pocketbook if he could barter with something else. On an occasion when he was presenting one of his horticultural papers, he needed the services of a typist and found one among his neighbors. When the paper was typed and sent off to the journal, Mr. Bullis paid for the clerical work with some of his prized tulip bulbs. He was known to share the bounty of his flowers with those who admiringly requested a bouquet. Charlie Bullis charged ten cents for a handful of glorious blooms.

     "As the years progressed, Charles Bullis became more solitary minded. His father, Abraham Rogers Bullis died in 1928, his sister was employed in Rochester, and his mother spent more and more of her time at the home of her semi-invalid sister. The Bullis house began to show signs of loneliness and neglect. Improvements were not ongoing. Vines and trees began to shroud the elegant lines of the cobblestone house until finally it became almost impossible to determine whether or not the house was occupied. This appearance must have appealed to the murderer who dumped a body in Charlie Bullis' woodpile one cold January night. The body remained under the snow for about two weeks until Charlie, going out to rearrange his woodpile, discovered the frozen man. His shaken phone call to the chief of police was probably as emotionally excited as anyone ever knew him to be.

    " Charles Bullis enjoyed the companionship of an old and cherished schoolmate and was always welcomed when he visited the home of Judge and Beth Rodenberger Loomis. Beth had attended school with Charlie and was one of the few remaining members of old Macedon society. Dr. Rodenberger, Beth's father, owned the lovely Main Street mansion which is now known as the Bickford House. The gardens which surrounded the house were especially lovely and the flowers and shrubs in them knew the gentle, knowing hand of Charles Bullis, He visited and dined with the Loomis' three or four times a week and Beth always sent him home with plenty of leftovers.

     "Procrastination was a characteristic of Charles Bullis' personality. It seemed that he had many great starts but difficulty seeing them through to completion. Examples of this included teaching school briefly and not attending Cornell University. The car anecdote is yet another instance of this trait. Charlie decided in the late 1940's that he should learn to drive. Putting the cart before the horse, he purchased a car from a local dealer and had it delivered to his home, where it was left parked under an apple tree. Charlie never got around to learning to drive and so the car remained under the apple tree until it was junked many years later. The same kind of procrastination seemed to present itself when Charlie thought it best to protect himself, his books, and flower bulbs against the possibility of nuclear war by building a bomb shelter.  The hole was dug and cement poured, but no stairs were ever completed. It remains today the way he left it, unfinished.

    "The sporadic presence of his sister, Nettie, in the home did little to change the style of living that Charlie Bullis had established for himself. One light was illumination enough. To sit over a heat register, with a large cardboard box cut out to allow him to sit within the box, thereby conserving heat, was comfortable enough. Water could come out of a pump as readily as a faucet. The only extravagance Charlie Bullis could ever be accused of indulging in was producing the beautiful, showy flowers which brought pleasure to everyone who saw them.

     "Charles Rogers Bullis remained in the Bullis House until his death in 1974. The legacy of his flowers is more of a monument to him than his cemetery headstone."

Monday, June 26, 2017


Pages 6 & 7, Susan Crowley's document:
Abraham R. Bullis, III

     "Old Abe" Bullis is part legend and part reality in the history of Macedon. A boy of unusual academic talent, he alternately amazed and amused the rural community with his brilliance and wit. One day the principal and math instructor had filled the blackboard with a long problem in arithmetic. Suddenly from the back seat, Abraham (probably out of boredom) threw an apple, slightly rotten, right into the center of the problem. Abraham, considered a mathematical genius, became a licensed surveyor and contributed many articles to various technical and mathematical publications throughout the United States.

     Education was important to the early families of Macedon. Dr. Cyrus Jennings, a prominent Macedon physician, admired the photogenic memory Abe Bulls. The two would entertain themselves by testing Abe's memory on many evenings, thoroughly enjoying the activity. When Dr. Jennings' young son, Charles, was puzzled by a particularly difficult math problem, Abe was delighted to help him out. The University of Rochester professor Charles turned these problems in to would always ask the same question, "Did Abe Bullis teach you to do it this way?" His mathematical prowess was well known and recognized.

     Abraham R. Bullis, III was also a talented engineer. The bridge tale is one which was circulated and repeated for many years by proud Macedonians. It seems that a bridge was being built over the canal and some unseen problem prevented its successful completion. The baffled engineers were about to give up when someone suggested that Abe Bullis be asked to take a look at the bridge. Abe looked and studied the construction briefly and then pointed to the place where the problem existed. The workers were able to correct the error and the bridge was completed without further delay.

     Abraham R. Bullis, III and his wife, Josephine Breese lived in the Bullis House with their two children, Charles and Nettie. These children became the next and last Bullis' to occupy their great-grandfather's house.