Family history surprises

The Bullen family gathers for the holidays.
The Bullen family gathers for the holidays.

Tenth in a series on the families who helped build Clarkston and the descendants who still live here, carrying on their legacy.

Clarkston News Editor
The Bullen family in Independence Township can trace their Clarkston lineage to Civil War veteran Francis Follett, who is buried in Lakeview Cemetery.
It’s trickier to go earlier than that.
According to family research by Thomas Bullen, whose wife Sally Bullen is descended from Follett, “The daughter of Francis Follett, the informant for his death certificate, put ‘unknown’ for the names of his parents. Did Francis Follett not tell his daughter Gertrude who her grandparents were, was he mad at them for some reason? Did she not remember from when she was 12 and living in New Hampshire that she had grandparents and aunts and uncles there? Or, was it because Gertrude was somewhat cantankerous that she just decided to ignore that small detail?”
Research into the census roll of 1850 for Centre Harbor, New Hampshire, found Francis, who was born in New Hampshire in 1847, listed as the last of seven children of Daniel Smith Follett and Ruth Faxon.
More research led Bullen to conclude it was likely a family dispute.
“For some reason, however, he orphaned himself from his family, many of which had gone to Wisconsin from New Hampshire,” Bullen said. “He lived in both places a while, and then came to Clarkston for reasons unknown. We are glad he did.”
Francis fought for the North in major Civil War battles, serving with the Second Regiment of the New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry. He enlisted on April 24, 1861 at age 19. His occupation at the time was “farmer” and he was living at Center Harbor, also his birth place.
He was wounded severely at the Battle of Second Bull Run, Aug. 29, 1862, but rejoined the Second New Hampshire after a Washington. D.C. hospital stay.
The Second New Hampshire Regiment fought in the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863, and an old photo shows Follett standing in front of the New Hampshire monument at the battlefield.
He mustered out at Concord, New Hampshire, on June 21, 1864.
Francis came to Clarkston with his wife and two daughters about 1880, moving to 67 Buffalo Street, where his daughter Gertrude died.
In Clarkston, he worked at the Yeager Livery Stables at Washington Street and Main. He died in 1930 and is buried in the Yeager plot at Lakeview.
Why he came to Clarkston is lost to history, Bullen said.

Frank Follett, wearing his Civil War pin.
Frank Follett, wearing his Civil War pin.

“After the Civil War, he went to Wisconsin, then back to New Hampshire, then to Clarkston. Why? It’s lost to antiquity,” Tom said. “Great grandma Green probably knew, but no one ever asked her.”
Thomas Bullen came to Robertson Court with his parents shortly after his birth in Lansing in 1935.
His father, Richard, was born in 1907. He was the great-grandson of Rueben Bullen, pioneer settler in Ingham County, Mich., in 1836. The first American Bullen, Samuel, came from England about 1640.
Sally Stageman Bullen returned to Clarkston with her mother at age 8. Her father, Dr. John Stageman, served in World War II as a physician. After the war, he joined his family in Clarkston to practice Ophthalmology in Pontiac and to raise his family.
Sally’s ancestors were cousins of two presidents, John Adams and John Quincy Adams.
“We found some fascinating connections,” Tom said.
Tom and Sally’s have five children, all Clarkston graduates and living in the Clarkston area – Linda Downs, Benjamin Bullen, John Bullen, Julie Maier, and Sandra Bullen.
Linda Downs’ son Grant has four children with his wife, Jamie. The children, Jackson, Lanie, Ian, and Nathanial, are seventh generation Clarkston residents.
“We like it here,” Sally said.
The Clarkston News and Tom Stone, longtime resident and genealogist, are highlighting every month local families who have lived in the area for at least 100 years.

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