Ingham County Biographical Sketches

Rueben R. Bullen

This venerable pioneer was born in the town of Charlton, Worchestor Co., Mass., Sept. 14, 1806. His father, also named Reuben, was a native of Pomfret, Conn. He married Tamison Leavens and reared a family of four children, Reuben being the eldest son. In 1824 the elder Bullen removed with his family to Wayne Co., N. Y., where he resided until his death, which occured in 1845, in the sixty-eighth year of his age. He was a successful farmer and a valuable citizen, and identified himself prominently with Wayne County. Reuben remained at home until he attained his twentieth year. He received such an education as was afforded by the district schools of that day, and in1828 went to Wilkesbarre, Pa. At this time the Pennsylvania Canal was being built, and he obtained a situation as foreman. In 1835 he married Miss Elizabeth Vandenburg, of Pittston, Pa., and the following year (1836) started for Michigan. He arrived in Detroit in October. From Detroit he went to Ann Arbor, where he left his family, and from thence to Aurelius, where he located eighty-three acres of government land on section 4. He returend to Ann Arbor, and in the following year (1837) made a permanent settlement upon his land. The town at this time was a wilderness; two families only had preceeded him, and in what is now Mason, then called Ingham Centre, there were two log houses. The pioneer life of Mr. Bullen was one of hardship and many privations, but a robust constitution and a resolute will overcame all obstacles. Those living at this day have but a faint conception of what the pioneers had to contend with, without roads, mills, or bridges, and for supplies were frequently obliged to go to Ann Arbor, a portion of the distance through an almost unbroken forest, with roads tha twould now be considered impassable. The following incident is relate to show the difference between going to mill in 1836 and 1880. The first grist taken to mill by Mr. Bullen was thrashed over a barrel, the bundles being bound small for the purpose, and, as there were no conveniences for winnowing the wheat, it was taken in the chaff by a bark canoe to Eaton Rapids, where there was a fanning-mill. It was then ground, placed in the boat, which was poled up the river to Columbia, from which place Mr. Bullen carried it on his back to his home, a distance of some five miles, through the woods. In the organization of the town in 1838, Mr. Bullen took a prominent part. He was a member of the first town board, and has since occupied many positions of trust and responsibility. He has represented Aurelius upon the board of supervisors for a number of terms, and for many years was justice of the peace. To Mr. and Mrs. Bullen were born eight children, -- George, Richard J., James, T., Phebe A., Susan, Joseph, John E., and Samuel. Of the above, five are now living. Richard J. and James T. reside in Aurelius, the latter upon the old homestead. Both are prominently identified with the best interests of the town, and are successful, enterprising farmers. Richard J. is the most extensive farmer in the town, and for six successive terms had filled the office of supervisor, -- a feat which in itself is evidence of integrity and ability. He marries Miss Sarah Markham, of Delhi, a lady of much culture and refinement. The elder Bullen is now in his seventy-fourth year, and still retains much of his former vigor and energy. He can look back upon his life with satisfaction, feeling he has been rewarded for the hardships of early days.

Taken from:
"History of Ingham and Eaton Counties Michigan, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Their Prominent Men and Pioneers", by Samuel W. Durant.
Published by D. W. Ensign & Co., 1880.
Page 224


Michigan Biographies Project

Sondra Higbee