Category Archives: U.S. Civil War

1890: A GAR member helps with Arthur T. Bull’s probate

Sepia Saturday 436: Fourth in a series on the settlement of my great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull’s estate. A Union Army veteran of the U.S. Civil War, he was the father of my paternal great grandmother Eva (Bull) Charboneau.

When Union Civil War veteran William H. Crandall co-signed my great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull’s estate administration bond, I wondered how he knew her and my late great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull.

In the last post, I detailed what I learned about William Crandall’s U.S. Civil War service — which in 1864 partially overlapped Arthur’s time in the Union Army. I wondered if they knew each other while serving — a possibility that hinges on one month: September 1864.
Private William Liming of Co. B, 21st U.S. Veteran Reserve Corps Infantry Regiment, and unidentified soldier in same uniform (1865). As a VRC soldier William H. Crandall would have worn one of these distinctive sky-blue uniforms — but he did not directly serve with my gg grandfather Arthur T. Bull. They appear to have met after the war through the Union veterans fraternal group — the Grand Army of the Republic. Image: Library of Congress

A scheduling near miss

In September 1864, Arthur went back on active duty with the 6th New York Heavy Artillery after two months in hospital for war-related illness.

While he was away, Arthur’s unit was stationed at Ft. Stevens and helped repulse a July 1864 attack on Washington, D.C. by Confederate forces from the Shenandoah Valley. The capital’s defenses were strengthened after the attack — and  Arthur’s artillery unit was held there until September 24.

Meanwhile, William Crandall was stationed at Giesboro cavalry depot outside Washington, D.C. doing light-duty work with the Union Veteran Reserve Corp — which was made up of injured and infirm service members.

VRC troops played a valiant, emergency role at Ft. Stevens by beefing up Union lines until reinforcements could arrive. Yet while they may have rubbed shoulders with my great-great grandfather’s fellow artillerists, Arthur wasn’t in D.C. at the time —  and it’s unclear whether VRC soldiers remained on combat duty through September, when he returned.

Enter the GAR

So a new question arose: If William and Arthur didn’t directly serve together, how else might they have met? Then I remembered the Grand Army of the Republic — the fraternal organization of Union Army veterans that my ancestor belonged to.

And that’s where I discovered their connection — as shown in the GAR Descriptive Book excerpt below. [1. New York, Grand Army of the Republic Records, 1866-1931, N. Crosby Post 550 Descriptive Book, entry no. 29 W.H. Crandall and 30, A.T. Bull, digital images, ( : accessed 12 Sept. 2018)]

William H. Crandall and Arthur T. Bull listings in the Descriptive Book of Nathan Crosby Post 550 NYS GAR – Salamanca, N.Y. – Source: – New York, Grand Army of the Republic Records, 1866-1931 [2. Ibid.]
No. Name Age Birthplace Residence Occupation
29 W. H. Crandall 45 Oswego, NY Salamanca Merchant
30 A.T. Bull 52 Greene Co., NY Salamanca Tanner
Entry into the Service
Date Rank Co. Regiment
Sep. 25th, 1861 Private B 9 NY C
Jan. 4th, 1864 Private F H. A. NY
Final Discharge
Date Rank Co. Regiment Length of Service Cause of Discharge
Oct. 8th, 1864 Private B 9 NY C 3 years 7 days Ex. of Service
Aug. 24th, 1865 Private F H. A. NY 1 year 2 m. General Order
Date of Muster into the GAR: Arthur – July 21st, 1886; W.H. Crandall – blank (Note: Date of Muster for member above him was Oct. 7th, 1885)

William and Arthur joined their Salamanca, N.Y., GAR post within months of one another. Both men were transplants from elsewhere in New York State and had served overlapping tours in or near Washington, D.C. during the U.S. Civil War — which meant they had some things in common.

They had also been fellow lodge members for more than three years when my great-great grandfather Arthur died in 1890.  So it seems natural that William would help his widow — my great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull — by co-signing her administration bond so she could settle Arthur’s estate.

And William Crandall certainly had the collateral to do it.

More on this in the next post. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1890: Mary E. (Blakeslee) Bull gets probate help from a veteran

Sepia Saturday 435: Third in a series on the settlement of my great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull’s estate. A Union Army veteran of the U.S. Civil War, he was the father of my paternal great grandmother Eva (Bull) Charboneau.

On 13 Aug. 1890, two days before my paternal great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull received her Letters of Administration to oversee disposition of her late husband Arthur’s estate, she signed a financial bond for $150 — a sum she would forfeit if she failed to fulfill her duties.

In the last post, I wrote about one of the co-signers for her bond –lawyer Carey D. Davie, who may have been her attorney. Yet from a family history perspective, the second co-signer William H. Crandall seems to be the more interesting of the two.
Panoramic view of the Giesboro cavalry depot near Washington, D.C. (1865). William H. Crandall, who co-signed my widowed gg grandmother Mary Bull’s administration bond, served here during the U.S. Civil War. Did he and my gg grandfather Arthur know each other from Union Army service? Image: Library of Congress

A Civil War veteran

Because friends, associates and neighbors (FANs) can help flesh out a person’s day-to-day life, I always want to know more about those whose names crop up in ancestor-related documents.

So I got to work seeing what I could find out about William H. Crandall and his possible relationship to Arthur and Mary Bull and their family.

My first discovery was his listing in the 1890 U.S. Census of Veterans and Widows of the Civil War as excerpted below.

1890 Special Schedule – Surviving Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines, and Widows, Etc. Salamanca, N.Y.Source: FamilySearch
Name Rank Co. Rgt. Enlisted Discharged Served
William H. Crandall Private B 9 NY Cavalry 26 Sep. 1861 8 Oct. 1864 3 years 16 days
Post Office Disability Incurred Remarks
Salamanca, Catt. Co., N.Y. 1862 Fever and Asthma

I have not found my great-great grandmother Mary in this census — the census-taker may have missed her since Arthur’s 1890 death was so recent. But finding that William Crandall was a veteran like Arthur was my first clue to how he might know my Bull ancestors.

Friends from the Army?

That got me wondering whether William and Arthur’s service time overlapped. Had they known each other before my ancestors moved to Salamanca — maybe from the army?

My great-great grandfather Arthur began service in the 6th New York Heavy Artillery in January 1864 — partially overlapping William Crandall’s service during 1864. So I looked up William’s 9th NY Cavalry regiment to see what I could find — and there he was on the muster roll.

William’s Company B was recruited in Little Valley, in Cattaraugus County, N.Y. — which is where he signed up. Below is his listing in the 9th NY Cavalry unit roster, printed in 1895.

CRANDALL, WILLIAM.—Age, 21 years. Enlisted, September 23, 1861, at Little Valley; mustered in as private, Co. B, October 8, 1861, to serve three years; transferred, December 10, 1863, to One Hundred and Sixteenth Company, Second Battalion, Veteran Reserve Corps.

The Veteran Reserve Corps (VRC) allowed ill or injured service members — such as William, who developed asthma — to do light duty tasks, freeing up well/uninjured soldiers to remain in the field.

A Washington, D.C. connection?

Below is a summary of William’s VRC unit from the U.S. Civil War Archive site. (Depot Camp was probably Giesboro cavalry depot near the capital city.)

Organized at Depot Camp, Washington, D.C., December 9, 1863. Consolidated with 100th Company, 2nd Battalion, July 29, 1865.

After my ancestor Arthur Bull fell ill in the spring of 1864, I have found no evidence that he was assigned to the VRC. However, he served briefly in Washington, D.C. in September 1864 after returning from hospital — when some VRC units were also deployed on capital defenses. Did his service coincide with Crandall’s?

More on this in the next post. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1888: Pension Board examines Arthur Bull for a pension increase

Sepia Saturday 407: Seventh in a series on my Union Army great-great grandfather Arthur Bull and his final years in Salamanca, Cattaraugus County, N.Y.

On a wintry 26 Dec. 1888, my great-great grandfather Arthur Bull, 57, was examined by U.S. Pension Board physicians in Olean, Cattaraugus, N.Y., in connection with his request for an increase in his Union Army pension for war-related illness.

Winter in Cattaraugus County, N.Y. During the 1888 holiday season, my great-great grandfather was examined by Pension Board physicians  in Olean, N.Y., in connection with his request for a pension increase. By: Seabamirum

The examination took place at the end of a year of significant changes in the Salamanca household of my ancestors Arthur and Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull. Mary’s mother Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee had passed in January and their daughter Jessie married Sidney Banton in May.

By the time Arthur applied in August for an increased pension — because he cold no longer work even part time — only their daughter Alice, 11, and son Waples, 10, were still at home.

 A credentialed board

Examining Pension Board physicians were sometimes Civil War veterans themselves, and thus familiar with war-related complaints. Such was the case with at least one of Arthur Bull’s examiners, Board President John S. Eddy, M.D.

In the 1890 United States Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War, Dr. Eddy reported that he served as an assistant surgeon with the 12th N.Y Infantry from Oct. 1862 to June 1863.

Surgeon’s Certificate for Arthur Bull’s examination for a pension increase (1888). At least one physician on the examining panel was a Union Army veteran. Arthur was determined to be permanently disabled by war-related disease of the heart.  Photo: Molly Charboneau

A finding of permanent disability

Eddy and a panel of two others took this statement from Arthur, who was described as 5 feet 7 inches tall inches tall, weighing 157 pounds and age 57:

The heart is very irregular, and feels as if something were grasping it. It also pains a great deal. Has shortness of breath. has a pain through the right lung a good deal of the time, coughs at night.

This is followed by sobering notes from Arthur’s physical examination. They indicate that, while his respiration appeared normal, his heartbeat was characterized by a “soft flowing murmur…very intermittent…so much so that it is impossible to count the pulse.”

Stating that Arthur had “Disability in a permanent degree equal to the loss of a hand or foot” due to his war-related irritable heart, the Board made the following recommendation:

From the existing conditions and the history of this claimant, as stated by himself, it is, in our judgement, probable that the disability was incurred in the service as he claims, and that it has not been prolonged or aggravated by vicious habits. He is, in our opinion, entitled to a 3rd Grade rating for disability caused by Disease of the heart.

Arthur finally prevails

Arthur was not alone. According to an 1888 Commission of Pensions Report to Congress, 25,994 Union pensioners were classified as disabled from war-related heart disease between 1862 and mid-1888.

The Olean, N.Y.,  Board signed off on the Surgeon’s Certificate (shown above) on 31 Dec. 1888, and it was received at the U.S. Eastern Pension Office on 11 Jan. 1889.

Fortunately, this time my ancestor did not have to wait long for a decision. On 4 Feb. 1889, the U.S. Pension Board approved an increase in Arthur Bull’s pension to $17 a month commencing on 26 Dec. 1888.

There will be more on Arthur and his family in future posts. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

Up next: Starting on March 1 — St. David’s Day — a new series on my Welsh immigrant great grandfather Francis Hugh “Frank” Owen of Baltimore City, Maryland.  

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1888: Arthur Bull requests a pension increase

Sepia Saturday 406: Sixth in a series on my Union Army great-great grandfather Arthur Bull and his final years in Salamanca, Cattaraugus County, N.Y.

In 1888, Union Army pensioners like my great-great grandfather Arthur Bull were having trouble supporting their families as their ability to work declined.

This widespread need forged the Grand Army of the Republic into a powerful national veterans’ lobby for increased benefits — a burning issue that made it onto the agenda of Republican National Convention held in June 1888 in Chicago.
The U.S. Pension Building in Washington, D.C., was constructed in the 1880s for the agency that administered military pensions. The imposing edifice is  often described as a memorial to Civil War veterans. My ancestor Arthur Bull’s 1888 application for a pension increase eventually found its way here for processing. Source: U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)

According the Donald L. McMurray in “The Political Significance of the Pension Quesion” both veterans and the public — likely including my Bull ancestors — supported the GAR’s pension campaign. [1. McMurray, Donald L., The Political Significance of the Pension Question, 1885-1897.  The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 9 (1) (Jun., 1922), 19-36; Oxford University Press on behalf of Organization of American Historians. JSTOR ( : accessed
accessed 7 February 2018.)]

The development of pension activity by the Grand army was contemporaneous with a rapid growth of membership, from 60,678 in 1880 to 269,689 in 1885, and 427,981 in 1890. At the latter date about one-third of the survivors of the war were members. No doubt this growth was caused in part by interest in the increasing activity of the organization in regard to pensions….Throughout the northern states a large part of the public believed in giving the veterans what they wanted so far as the means of the government enabled it to do so.

Declaration for pension increase

Nevertheless, a document in his Union Army pension file indicates that Arthur, 56, could not wait for the issue of pension increases to be resolved at the national level.

Signature of my great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull on his pension increase declaration (22 Aug. 1888). I have inherited no photos or artifacts from my ancestor, so his signature — still fairly strong despite his declining health — is precious to me. Photo by Molly Charboneau

On 22 August 1888, my ancestor personally appeared before a Salamanca, N.Y., justice of the peace and filed a Declaration for the Increase of an Invalid Pension under then existing laws.

Arthur stated he was a pensioner of the U.S. and described the circumstances.

…enrolled at the Syracuse Pension Agency at the rate of $4.00 a month…by reason of disability from disease of heart and lungs incurred in the military service of the United States, while serving as a private in Co. F. 6th Regt. of New York H.A. Vols.

He went on to request a pension increase due to inability to work and appointed a lawyer to act on his behalf.

…on account of increased disability from the disease of heart and lungs, rendering claimant almost entirely incapacitated from the performance of manual labor [and] that he hereby appoints with full power of substitution and revocation Willard H. Peck of West Valley, Cattaraugus So. N.Y. as his true and lawful attorney to prosecute his claim.

A stamp on the document shows that it was received in the U.S. Pension Office in September 1888. Then Arthur waited for the next step — an examination by the local Pension Board — which finally came in December 1888.

More on this in the next post. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Arthur Bull and the GAR in the late 1880s

Sepia Saturday 403: Third in a series on my Union Army great-great grandfather Arthur Bull and his final years in Salamanca, Cattaraugus County, N.Y.

When my great-great grandfather Arthur Bull joined the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) in 1886, the Civil War veterans’ group had recently reorganized — which led to an explosion in recruitment.

114th Regimental Reunion, May 30, 1897, Norwich, N. Y.
The 114th Regimental Reunion in Norwich, Chenango Co., N.Y. (30 May 1897). G.A.R. is penciled on the back of this photo. My ancestor Arthur Bull, a Union Army veteran of the 6th New York Heavy Artillery, might have attended similar gatherings during his time in the GAR. Photo: Library of Congress

The New York State Archives online finding aid to its GAR records describes the group’s founding and metamorphosis.1

The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was a large multi-faceted organization (fraternal lodge, charitable society, special interest lobby, patriotic group, and political club) founded in 1866 by Union Army Surgeon Benjamin Franklin Stephenson. The organization was originally envisioned as a brotherhood of veterans who were dedicated to helping other veterans.

Transformation of the GAR

The GAR initially structured itself along military lines — with sentries at the door, members transferring from post to post, and a local, state and national chain of command.

In 1869, the GAR transitioned to a fraternal group with lodges, similar to the Masons — but an unpopular internal grading system prompted a mass exodus of rank-and-file members.

So in the late 1870s, the GAR transformed itself again — and its new focus on pensions likely prompted my ancestor Arthur Bull to finally join as a pensioner in 1886. 2

As a result of these changes, the GAR’s membership rose sharply in the 1880’s….It was through the GAR, and the pension lobby, that many soldiers and their families received pensions. The Grand Army of the Republic also promoted patriotism through parades, national encampments, placement of war memorials, and the establishment of Memorial Day as a national holiday.

An integrated fraternal order

Unlike other fraternal orders in the 1800s, the Grand Army of the Republic was racially inclusive and integrated — as befitted veterans who had fought together to end slavery — and welcomed all honorably discharged Union vets, including at least two women. 3 According to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War: 4

Membership was limited to honorably discharged veterans of the Union Army, Navy, Marine Corps or the Revenue Cutter Service who had served between April 12, 1861 and April 9, 1865.
African-American GAR veterans parading in a New York City (30 May 1912). Unique among fraternal groups of the era, the GAR was integrated and open to all honorably discharged Union Army veterans of the U.S. Civil War Photo: Library of Congress

The GAR was also quick to embrace Memorial Day — a commemoration begun on 1 May 1865 by African-American freepeople with a march of 10,000 in Charleston, S.C., to honor 257 Union soldiers who died in a Confederate prison camp there. 5

Because the group was indispensable to Union Army veterans and their families, my great-great grandparents Arthur and Mary (Blakeslee) Bull likely found comfort in the milieu of the GAR — and perhaps its affiliated women’s group, too. 6

And they might have turned to the GAR for assistance as Arthur’s war-related health issues reduced his ability to work, requiring him to apply for pension increases.

More on Arthur’s life in Salamanca in the next post. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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