Biography of Frederick J. Bullis

Frederick J. Bullis, born July 22, 1841, in Schuyler’s Falls, New York, was a pioneering figure in Brookings County, South Dakota. He moved to Minnesota in 1866, married Mary A. Morton in 1870, and relocated to Brookings County in 1882. Establishing a prosperous farm, he became a respected citizen, known for his integrity and community involvement. A devoted Methodist and Republican, Bullis passed away on April 20, 1903. He left behind his widow Mary and their children: A. Leroy, Fred, Ira, Nellie, Bessie, Lucy, and Grace, who continued to uphold the family’s legacy on the homestead.

The late Frederick J. Bullis was one of the sterling pioneers and honored citizens of Brookings County, which was his home and the scene of his earnest and successful endeavors for more than a score of years, while he so ordered his life as to retain the unqualified confidence and regard of those with whom he came in contact. Mr. Bullis, whose death occurred on the 20th of April, 1903, was a native of the Empire State of the Union, having been born in Schuyler’s Falls, Clinton County, New York, on the 22nd of July, 1841, and being a son of Alfred and Anna Bullis, who were representatives of pioneer families of that commonwealth, where both died, the father having been a prosperous farmer and lumberman. Of his children we are enabled to enter the following brief record: Jennette is the wife of Eli Kimberly and resides in Niagara, New York; Helen died in early womanhood; Lucy is the wife of James Burroughs, of East Beekmantown, New York; Frederick J. is the subject of this memoir; Addie is the widow of a Mr. Daily and resides in Plattsburg, New York; Charles and Fannie are deceased; and Emma is the wife of James Stratton, of Plattsburg, New York.

Frederick J. Bullis was reared to the sturdy discipline of the farm and secured his educational discipline in the common schools of his native county. He there continued to be identified with agricultural pursuits until he had attained the age of twenty-five years, when he set forth to seek his fortunes in the west, proceeding to Owatonna, Minnesota, in the vicinity of which place he purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land, this being in the year 1866. He was one of the early settlers in that section and after locating on his pioneer farm he there maintained “bachelor’s hall” about five years. On the 12th of October, 1870, he was there united in marriage to Miss Mary A. Morton, who was born in Cattaraugus County, New York, on the 27th of February, 1851, a daughter of Reuben H. and Lois (Cowley) Morton, both of whom were likewise native of the Empire State, being of staunch Irish lineage. Mr. Morton was engaged in farming in New York until 1863, when he emigrated with his family to Minnesota and purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land in Steele County, later disposing of this property and removing to Chippewa County, that state, where he passed the remainder of his life, his death occurring in 1877, while his widow there continued to reside until she too was summoned into eternal rest, in November, 1902. Of their fifteen children only six are now living. Charity, who became the wife of William Towne, of Leon, New York, is now deceased; Susan, who became the wife of Benjamin Sires, of Milbank, South Dakota, is now deceased; Melissa is the wife of Stuart McKann and they reside in the state of Washington; Leonard is a resident of Milbank, South Dakota; Homer is deceased; Mary A. is the widow of the subject of this sketch; Charles resides in Milbank, this state; Flora is the wife of Harry Miller, of that place; Lois and Lela and Nellie are deceased; Kate is the wife of Lee Amsden, of Milbank; Edna is deceased; the fourteenth child died, unnamed, in infancy; and Reuben is a resident of Chippewa County, Minnesota.

After his marriage Mr. Bullis continued to reside on his homestead in Minnesota until 1882, when he disposed of the property and came as a pioneer to Brookings County, South Dakota, this being prior to the admission of the state to the Union. Here he entered claim to the homestead farm upon which his widow now resides, the only improvement made on the farm at the time he came into possession being a broken tract of about twelve acres. He erected a modest house, eighteen by twenty-four feet in dimensions, the same being one of the best to be found in the locality at the time, while its equipment was far above the average, since he had brought with him a good supply of furniture and other household goods from the old home in Minnesota. Later he erected a substantial and attractive residence of twelve rooms and this constitutes the family home at the present time, while the other improvements of permanent order are of corresponding excellence. Mr. Bullis added to the area of his landed estate from time to time, becoming the owner of three hundred and twenty acres of as productive land as is to be found in this section, while he brought the farm under a high state of cultivation and also raised livestock of the best grade, having brought considerable stock with him from Minnesota. His life was one of signal usefulness and honor and his name ever stood as a synonym of integrity, so that he commanded the respect of all who knew him, being known as an honest, sincere and public-spirited citizen. His political allegiance was given to the Republican Party, of whose principles and policies he was a staunch advocate, and his religious faith was that of the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which his widow and children are likewise members. Of the children we record that A. Leroy is individually mentioned on another page of this work, he having charge of the homestead farm; Fred, who was born on the 27th of February, 1876, is a farmer of this county; he married Miss Nora Peters and they have one child, Henry S.; Ira, who was born on the 6th of May, 1879, is associated in the management of the home farm; Nellie, who was born on the 31st of May, 1881, is the wife of Morris Sylvester and they reside in Brookings County; and Bessie, Lucy, and Grace still remain beneath the home roof, being aged respectively nineteen, fifteen, and thirteen years (1903).


Robinson, Doane, History of South Dakota: together with mention of Citizens of South Dakota, [Logansport? IN] : B. F. Bowen, 1904.

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