Sepia Saturday 426: First in a series about my great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull, a U.S. Civil War widow. She was the mother of my paternal great-grandmother Eva (Bull) Charboneau.
In January 1890, my great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull, 50, became a Civil War widow following the death of her husband — Union Army pensioner Arthur T. Bull, 57, a veteran of the 6th New York Heavy Artillery.
Mary’s new persona was thrust upon her after two years of ups and downs in her Salamanca, Cattaragus Co., N.Y. household. Among the major events in her life during that time were:
- The death of her mother Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee on 8 Jan. 1888 while she was residing with Mary and Arthur.
- The marriage of her daughter Jessie Ann Bull on 10 May 1888 to Sidney Banton, which left just two minor children — Alice and Waples — still living with Mary and Arthur.
- Arthur’s inability to work and his application on 23 Feb. 1889 for a full-disability military pension.
- Approval of a full-disability pension for Arthur in June 1889.
A new round of paperwork
When Arthur died in early 1890, Mary was faced with a double loss. Not only was her beloved husband, and father of her nine children, gone from her life — but with him went the financial support of her household.
So with barely time to mourn, Mary began the difficult process of seeking an income by applying for a widow’s pension — with its own set of proofs and paperwork to be sent in to the U.S. Pension Board.
Application for accrued pension
On 1 March 1890, Mary appeared with her attorney William H. Peck before Cattaraugus County Judge O. S. Vreeland and filed form 3-560 — Application for Accrued Pension. (Widows.).
The opening passage of her application is excerpted below, with handwritten portions underlined.
On this First day of March, 1890, personally appeared Mary E. Bull, who, being duly sworn, declares that she is the lawful widow of Arthur T. Bull, deceased; that he died on the 30th day of January, 1890; that he had been granted a pension by Certificate No. 315 208…; that he had been paid the pension by the Pension Agent at Buffalo, NY up to the 4th day of Dec–, 1889; after that date he had not been employed or paid in the Army, Navy, or Marine service of the United States…
A poignant bequest
Once she had established that her late husband had been granted a pension and there was likely an accrued, unpaid pension amount, Mary went on to provide other details required of Civil War widows.
And in so doing, my great-great grandmother Mary unknowingly created a rich source of family history and relationships — a poignant genealogical bequest to her descendants, which will unfold in this series.
More on Mary’s widow application in the next post. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.
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