A great day for the Bull family

Ancestors of early settlers celebrate 150th reunion: New, far-flung generations come together to reconnect

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  • Everyone gathered for a group photo on the lawn (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Steve DiStasio, right, operated his drone and took photos of the attendees from above (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Baby Caroline Goslee, photographed with sister Elizabeth and parents James and Rebecca, holds on to her youngest girl ribbon. (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • The blue ribbon winners: right, Jim Mitchell-whose birthday it was, along with Shirley Matthews.Seated: Bob Otto, oldest man; Shirley Matthews, celebrating a birthday; Paula Otto, Bob’s wife of 67 years; Harriet Clark, oldest woman, Caroline Goslee, youngest girl; her mother, Rebecca, sister Elizabeth and dad James Goslee; Curtis Johnson, dad, and mom Heather of baby Evan Johnson, the youngest boy. (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Youngest boy, Evan Johnson, 8 months, with parents Curtis and Heather, decided to taste his ribbon. (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Sister Theresa Condit from Ohio (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • The only standing example of a New World Dutch barn in Orange County, on the grounds of the Bull homestead. (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Aiden Johnson, front, and Laura Nywening, Gary Johnson, daughter-in-law Heather, grandson Evan, youngest boy and Evan’s dad, Curtis. (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Goshen Village historian Ed Connor was present. (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Mike Brown, in white shirt, was the caretaker of the Bull stone house for many years (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Louis Euvrard, left, came from Albany. He’s pictured with son-in-law John Gould and daughter Gretchen. (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Bob Otto, the oldest man present, and wife, Paula, enjoyed the barbecue dinner. (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Cheri Cardone, son B.J., and daughter Jamie LeFebvre prepared a delicious meal for all (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Frances Kyle of Warwick takes a photo of Matthew and William Kelemen from Florida, N.Y., who posed in cutouts as William Bull and Sarah Wells. (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Kathi Nywening, secretary of the Bull Stone House organization, enjoyed a laugh. (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Some people wave as the drone taking photos passes overhead. (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Families encircle the house for a group photo. (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Anne Marie and James Mitchell, proud grandparents of Caroline Goslee, the youngest girl present. (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Thomas John Parlee and wife Spence Hill traveled the farthest; they drove 3,700 miles from Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory. (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Mel Frederick Condit (left), Mary Anne Condit (right), her children, Sister Theresa and Luke Condit, Luke’s son, James, and great-grandmother Mary Emma Condit, seated (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Daniel Monteith came from New Brunswick, Canada. (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • James Condit, 3, enjoyed his blue Italian ice and his first time at a Bull family reunion. (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Steve DiStasio, right, operated his drone and took photos of the attendees from above. On his left is Bob Nywening. (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Charles ‘Sandy’ Johnson was there with three other generations of his family. (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Melanie Lattimer, retiring caretaker of Bull Stone House, and Lyle Shute, board president. (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

The Bull Blue Ribbons

First to arrive: David Bull came to the picnic from Louisiana on Aug. 1 with a trailer.
Traveled farthest: Thomas Parlee drove 3,700 miles, from the Yukon Territory, in Canada, to be there. Parlee remarked, “Thirty-nine years ago my parents were here and they got a blue ribbon.”
Oldest man present: Bob Otto, 92, who with his wife Paula, 87, came from Newburgh, N.Y. They’ve been married 67 years.
Oldest woman present: Harriet Clark, 93, descended from the line of Sarah Bull.
Youngest boy: Evan Johnson, 8 months (his dad is Curtis Johnson, mom is Heather; Curtis is Gary Johnson’s son and Gary is the son of Charles “Sandy” Johnson. Evan’s dad and granddad also won blue ribbons in the past for being the youngest at the picnics)
Youngest girl: Caroline Goslee, 14 months old and the 12 generation of the line of John Bull.
Recognized for birthday: Ms. Shirley Matthews, 87, and Jim Mitchell were serenaded with “Happy Birthday” by the group.

By Ginny Privitar

— It was a splendid sesquicentennial — the 150th reunion, that is — for the multitudinous descendants of the Bull family, who gathered on a perfect summer day to celebrate their long history and one another.

The descendants of early Orange County settlers William Bull and Sarah Wells came from all over the United States and from Canada for the event. Although William and Sarah settled and built their home here in 1722, long before we were even a nation, the first reunion picnic was not held until 1868.

The Bulls built this extraordinary fieldstone house over a spring so that in case of attack, they would always have water. Centuries later, the house and the spring still exist.

Sarah and William Bull had 12 children. William predeceased his wife; when Sarah died in 1796, she had 335 living descendants.

The best part of the Saturday party was reconnecting with familiar relatives and meeting new ones for the first time. It was a happy, festive day treasured by those with a love of history, and especially, family history.

Approximately 370 descendants and guests attended. Two giant tents set up under the mature trees on the Bull homestead were filled with celebrants, who spilled out over the pastoral landscape. Later in the afternoon, they gathered around the family homestead for group photos, including one taken by an overhead drone.

Bull family-related items were for sale. At a genealogy tent, guests could check their line of descent from one of the original 12 Bull offspring.

Teacher Melanie Latimer, the honorary master of ceremonies, is a third-generation caretaker: her father, Mike Brown, was caretaker for decades. Before him, Latimer's grandparents had been custodians of the homestead, also for decades. All had lived in the house, preserved its history, and given tours of the home.

Food and friendsbipOn this August day, some guests brought lunch, but most dined on chicken barbecue with all the trimmings prepared by members of the Cardone family.

President Lyle Shute of the Bull Stone House organization, along with other members of the board, thanked Melanie Latimer and her family for their time as caretakers of the Bull Stone House, Boy Scout Timothy McNeilly, an Eagle Scout candidate from Campbell Hall who, with his Troop 416, built picnic tables and benches for relaxing by the pond and Gary Johnson, who maintains the land, "for keeping this place beautiful."

Will Condit came with his family from Ann Arbor, Michigan.

"It’s nice to be back home in the New Jersey-New York area," he said. "It’s just so special. I always tell the kids, just to be part of a tradition and the history is really something to marvel at; we enjoy it. I was looking it up to see how many family reunions there are that are this large, and there’s not that many."

His sister, a nun, Sister Theresa Condit, came from Ohio.

Daniel Monteith, 19, from New Brunswick, Canada, said, "It’s my first time coming here. I’m really glad to be here; it’s interesting to see everything kind of pieced together."

Charles "Sandy" Johnson, there with three other generations of his family, summed the day up best:

"It's the greatest," he said.

For more information about the Bull family or the Bull Stone House, see bullstonehouse.org.

Many more photos at chroniclenewspaper.com. This article has been updated to clarify an editing error, that it's the 150th anniversary of the reunion gathering; the family itself dates back much farther in time, as the article attests. The Chronicle regrets the error.

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