Brothers William W. (born 1842, New York) and Charles E. Bullock (born 1845, Wisconsin) were born in New York and were the sons of Elkanah S. and Lydia Elvira Bullock. They and their family moved first to Ohio, then to Wisconsin, and then to Monona County, Iowa.
“Elkanah T. Bullock came to Kennebec Township in the winter of 1855-56, and put up a cabin on the northeast quarter of section 18, into which he removed with his family early in the following spring. Here he resided for several years but finally emigrated to Kansas, settling on Solomon’s Fork. His sons, Lyman, William and Charles, entered the United States army during the [Civil] War, and finally located in Kansas. ” — taken from the book Monona County (Iowa) History (1890), page 284.
The mother, Lydia, died in 1861 at the age of 42 and was buried on the farm in Kennebec Township. To date there has been no confirmation that neither William or Charles ever entered military service. The Bullocks and their father moved from Iowa to Missouri, and by the late 1860s the sons were living in Miami County, Kansas.
The following was written by Calvin Reasoner as part of a series of articles that appeared in the Osborne County Farmer newspaper during the year 1876:
“The Bullocks were well adapted to frontier life, strong, hardy and resolute. They were not easily daunted by either adversity or danger. The Bullock family lived in Ohio but later in Iowa, and in Miami County, Kansas. William and Charles Bullock came up into the [South Fork] Solomon valley buffalo hunting in January 1870. They with others spent some time in Osborne County hunting and were very much pleased with the looks of the country and resolved to make it their home. Accordingly they selected claims near the mouth of Twin Creek (in the neighborhood of Collins and Ziglers ) and filed on these claims at Junction City in January 1870, on their return back to Miami County.
“William and Charles Bullock returned to this county again early in March 1870 and found at Junction City that some persons had homesteaded the claims they had filed on. The Bullocks, however, notwithstanding they had lost their first choice of lands, came up and selected land where they are now located and were better pleased with their second choice than their first. They commenced immediately to build a house of logs and covered it with earth for a roof. This was, as we have said, the first house in the county. It was soon after enlarged with the assistance of Frank Pixley and Charles Storms, two other genuine pioneers who had then got into the county. They then built a corral of heavy logs around the house to serve as an enclosure for stock and a protection against Indians.
“This ranch of the Bullock boys was a very popular place during the first season of settlement in Osborne County. Everybody far and near knew about Bullocks and from Concordia, Clyde, and the lower part of the Solomon valley they could tell immigrants how far it was to Bullocks ranch. The boys knew something about surveying and rendered great assistance to immigrants in finding claims. They had sonic surveyor’s instruments for this purpose. The Bullocks were very hospitable in entertaining travelers and these acts of continual generosity on their part should ever serve to hold them in grateful remembrance. They seldom made any charge for the entertainment of immigrants. Many a newcomer with his family has gone to Bullocks ranch, shared their protection and hospitality for several days without any charge and has been enabled by them to find a home. Probably the first breaking that was done in the county was done at Bullocks by Dave Willis and Tom Weston. They broke about three acres on the low bottom and it produced quite a good crop of sod corn. There was also some breaking done on high ground near their house which did not produce much that year.
“As Bullocks was a place of rendezvous for all the hunters and immigrants there were at times quite a number of armed men congregated there. Such was fortunately the condition of affairs on the second of July 1870 when the first serious Indian raid was made on Bullocks ranch.”
The following was written by Hugo Weston in a letter to a friend and dated January 8, 1939:
“I consider it a privilege to write what I know of the Indian attack on the Bullock stockade in 1870. As I was too young to remember anything about it, being only about 2½ years old at that time, all that I know is from hearing it talked over by my father and mother and America in after years. The account as I remember it is as follows:
“For several days prior to the attack Dave Willis and the Bullock boys found signs on the prairie and along the river which convinced them that the Indians had design on the stockade, and they evidently knew there were only five men in the stockade at the time, viz: James and Tom Weston, Charley and Will Bullock, and Dave Willis. But the evening before the attack there was a party of ten buffalo hunters pulled into the stockade after dark. The Indians did not see them come and so were surprised the next morning to see 15 men instead of 5 at the stockade, hence they did not stay long. The Indians made their attack about sunrise. America (Mr. Weston’s sister) had gone to the corral to milk the cows, and I had started to follow her to get a cup of milk. Mother saw the Indians coming and gave the alarm. America heard her scream ‘Indians!’ and started back to the stockade. By this time the Indians were almost upon us. On her way to the stockade America picked me up and carried me in. As she went around the corner of the stockade a bullet struck a post a few inches from her head. The men in the stockade immediately swarmed out into the open and gave the Indians a warm reception. One of the hunters by the name of White had picketed his horses near the stockade the night before. He coolly walked out, got his horses, and led them into the stockade with the Indians sometimes within thirty feet of him, trying to kill him, but he never got a scratch, and saved his horses.
“Will Bullock was in bed yet when the fight started. His bed was just inside the stockade near a porthole. He raised up in his blankets, stuck his gun through the porthole and kept blazing away as long as there was a Redskin in sight, One Indian bullet found its way into the stockade and struck the opposite wall, where it fell into the bed where my father had been sleeping. When the men rushed out to repel the attack Dave Willis picked up the first gun he came to, which happened to be an old Spencer carbine, the only repeating rifle that had been invented at the time. After firing a couple of shots with it the gun jammed (as they nearly always did) and Dave had to go back into the stockade and get another gun. Charley Bullock thought that was a good joke, as both Charley and Dave were trying to make a good impression on America, and it got to rather a sore spot with Dave. My father said after the fight Charley and Dave came into the stockade laughing as though it had all been a good joke. There were two Indians knocked off their horses during the fight, but with the help of their friends they got back on their horses and got away. They left a bloody blanket and a revolver. The body of one of them was found afterwards tucked away in a pile of driftwood on the Solomon.”
The two Bullocks made a living aiding and locating settlers and hunting parties as they arrived in the area, including the Pennsylvania Colony, which built on an extra room to the Ranche during its brief stay there before moving further downstream to found the town of Osborne City. Charles Bullock was the first notary public appointed for Osborne County; his commission, signed by James M. Harvey, was dated May 16, 1871. Both brothers were prominent leaders when the county was formally organized in June 1871. Soon after another brother, Lyman, arrived and settled on a homestead next to the Ranche.
But before too long the two Bullock brothers needed more “elbow room” and moved on to Colorado Territory, where Charles in particular became very adept at mining. In 1877 the local newspaper in Lake City, Colorado listed Charles Bullock as co-founder and co-owner of the California Copper Mine. In 1880 the Rico Copper Mine was located up the north fork of Horse Gulch near Rico, Colorado and was considered to be one of the two best mines in the region. It was owned by the firm Charles Bullock & Company. In August 1881 the “Dolores News” in Rico, Colorado reported that “the Timberline and and Busy Bee loads on Dolores Mountain, owned by Charles Bullock, Hesse Musgrave and W. S. Robertson, are being developed and showing fine veins.” In April 1882 Charles decided to sell his share in the mine. That sale and its results was trumpeted in newspapers across Colorado and Kansas.
When adjusted for inflation, Charles Bullock’s windfall of $20,000 was the equivalent of $500,000 in today’s dollars.
In 1876 William Bullock made his way west to Washington Territory before joining his brother Charles by 1879 in Dolores County, Colorado. He worked at various jobs, operated a horse ranch, and as an accomplished violinist he was in great demand for the entertainment at functions across southwestern Colorado. For a time William was in the livery business with William H. Dawson until Dawson’s retirement in 1882.
Then came the tragic events of 1883, where William W. Bullock died in Rico, Colorado.
DEATH OF WILLIAM W. BULLOCK
“The small pox contagion at Telluride has resulted fatally to one of Rico’s citizens. William W. Bullock, who died of the disease on last Sunday morning, at 2 o’clock a.m., after an illness of four days. Mr. Bullock has been a resident of Rico since early in 1879, having been among the first to take advantage of the Dolores boom, before Rico was a town. He has been engaged in a variety of enterprise here, and was a member of the livery firm of Dawson and Bullock, which operated here last year. About three weeks ago he left for Telluride, where he was engaged as violinist in one of the balls there. On Tuesday of last week he was seized with the dreadful disease and died, as stated on Sunday. While being taken to the pest house, it was necessary to cross the San Miguel River and, it being high, the wagon box was flooded with water, causing the mattress on which he lay on became thoroughly saturated. This mattress was not changed and such carelessness on the part of the nurses doubtless hastened his death. He was buried on the day he died. His father is a resident of Carrollton, Missouri, and he has one brother in Shootland, Missouri, and another in Kansas. He was a member of the O.B.B. Society and the first of that order to die since its’ organization.” — The Dolores News, Rico, Colorado, Saturday, June 30, 1883.
— Taken from the Dolores News, Rico, Colorado, September 1, 1883.
“Charley came to visit us several times . . . the last time I saw him was in the winter of 1892-1893. We camped several days that winter. He was on his way to look for the lost Mitchell & Myrick silver lode in Northern Arizona. I don’t think he ever came back to the San Juan basin, or I would have heard of him, as he was rather a noted character in the mining towns of San Juan.” — Hugo Weston.
To date the details of Charles Bullock’s later life remain unknown.
In 1937 the Osborne County Commissioners authorized WPA money for monuments at the site of the county’s original five stockades, with the first monument erected at the Bullock Brothers Stockade site. The monument’s pyramid shape was chosen to emulate the shape of the stockade. Today the Bullock Brothers Stockade Monument can be visited along U.S. Highway 24 3.5 miles west of Osborne.
Side View of the Monument to the Bullock Brothers Ranch, located along U.S. Highway 24 in central Osborne County, Kansas.
SOURCES: Von Rothenberger, Lucas, Kansas; Colorado Miner (weekly), Volume XIX, No. 20, October 17, 1885; Dolores News, January 24, 1880; August 7, 1880, April 23, 1881; September 30, 1882, September 1, 1883; Lake City Mining Register, August 26, 1881, Osborne County Farmer, March 3, 1876, July 7, 1876, July 22, 1880, August 12, 1880, April 6, 1882; Osborne County Key, April 6, 1882; History of Monona County, Iowa (Chicago: National Publishing Company, 1890, page 284).