Tag Archives: Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull

1889: A full disability pension for Arthur Bull

Sepia Saturday 423: Second in a series on my Union Army great-great grandfather Arthur Bull’s final years as a U.S. Civil War pensioner.

In February 1889 my great-grandfather Arthur Bull filed an additional declaration asking for a Civil War pension increase due to a war-related shoulder injury that rendered him unable to work — then waited to hear from the Pension Board.

Living History 2015: A U.S. Civil War veteran and his wife at the Violet Festival in Dolgeville, Herkimer Co., N.Y. Union veterans like my ancestor Arthur Bull worked and raised families after the war, but relied on military pensions for war-related infirmities as they aged. Above, a Civil War veteran (c.) speaks to factory owner Alfred Dolge (r.) during a portrayal of the town’s history. Photo by Molly Charboneau

Four months later, on 26 June 1889, Arthur was examined by a panel of U.S. Pension Board physicians in Jamestown, Chautauqua Co., N.Y. — about 33 miles west of his Salamanca home in western New York’s Cattaraugus County.

Sympathetic pension physicians

Although sworn to be impartial, the pension board physicians may have been sympathetic to my ancestor — a 57-year-old veteran struggling to support his family on an approved partial-disability pension of $17 a month.

According to the 1892 New York Sate census1 Dr. Thomas D. Strong, president, would have been 67 at the time — a mature physician with some awareness of the toll age can take.

Calculating from the same census2,Dr. William M. Bemus, secretary, would have been 33 . And based on a search of military pension records, he appears to have filed for his own invalid pension in January 1899 — having served as a Surgeon and Major in the 3rd N.Y. Infantry.

Together with the treasurer, whose name is hard to decipher, these physicians examined Arthur’s claim that he was suffering from “disease of the heart, rheumatism, of right shoulder and arm.”

The medical exam

1889: Surgeon’s Certificate in the case of Arthur Bull’s pension increase application. The examining physicians ruled in my great-grandfather’s favor and found him eligible for a full disability pension due to war-related injury and illness from his service in the 6th NY Heavy Artillery during the U.S. Civil War. Scan by Molly Charboneau

The surgeon’s certificate states that Arthur was 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighed 150 pounds and had a normal temperature of 98.5 degrees. The report continues:

He makes the following statement upon which he bases his claim for Inc. He had rheumatism and disease of the heart followed. Was sent [to] hospitals. Pt. of Rocks & Mt. Pleasant. Was discharged 1865 on gen. order.

Upon examination, we find the following objective conditions: Fairly nourished. Rheumatic creak in the right shoulder, and right knee. No deformity of joints, or contraction of tendons. Motion of right shoulder some what impaired. Heart, size is normal, and sounds clear. Has marked ascites [fluid retention] and anasarca [edema or swelling] of feet and legs. Heart feeble, and irritable.

Full-disability pension approved

Fortunately for Arthur, this team of pension physicians found in his favor. They concluded their report with the statement below, in which I have underlined the handwritten portions:

From the existing condition and the history of this claimant, as stated by himself, it is probable that the disability was incurred in the service as he claimed, and that it has not been prolonged or aggrevatedby vicious habits.

He is, in our opinion, entitled to a 18/18 [100%] rating for the disability caused by Disease of the heart & rheumatism.

This must have been bittersweet news to Arthur — a finding that brought increased income to his household, but at the price of his total disability due to war-related injury and illness.

Yet with his wife Mary Elizabeth and two minor children dependent on him, this was the best outcome that could be hoped for Arthur and the Bull family under difficult circumstances.

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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  1. Free login required by FamilySearch to view the document image.
  2. Ibid.

1889: Arthur Bull requests another pension increase

Sepia Saturday 422: First in a series on my Union Army great-great grandfather Arthur Bull’s final years as a U.S. Civil War pensioner.

Recent retirement from my job got me thinking once again about my Union Army great-great grandfather Arthur Bull — and how vital his military pension was to sustaining his family at the end of his work life.

May 2018: Artillery detail on the facade of the U.S. Pension Office building (now the National Building Museum). My great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull received a U.S. Civil War pension for his 1864-65 service in the Union Army’s 6th NY Heavy Artillery. Photo by Molly Charboneau

When I last wrote about Arthur, he was living in Salamanca in Western New York’s Cattaraugus County and, in February 1889, had just been approved for a pension for war-related heart disease.

This brought a much-needed bump in household income from a retroactive pension payment, and regular monthly income going forward.

Yet this was still not enough for Arthur to support himself, his wife Mary Elizabeth and their two minor children Alice 13, and Waples, 11, once he could no longer work in the tannery trade.

So on 23 Feb. 1889, Arthur applied for a second pension increase based on a separate, war-related injury to his shoulder that was causing disability as he aged.

Arthur’s court appearance

With his attorney Willam H. Peck, Arthur appeared before a Cattaraugus County judge, as required by the pension law, and signed an additional declaration about his shoulder.  The declaration from his pension file states:

He contracted rheumatism of right shoulder and arm from exposure and hard marching, having to carry his knapsack and other accouterments, bearing more especially from straps placed over right shoulder.

Said rheumatism has continue to the present, at times more or less aggrevated. Whenever he attempts to labor with his right arm, the pain in right shoulder and arm is so intense that he has to stop labor. This claimant is now drawing a pension Cert. No. 315.208 on account of “heart disease.”

The declaration concludes,”That he is now Entirely disabled from obtaining his subsistence by manual labor by reason of his injuries above described.”

Killer knapsack

With backpacks so prevalent in everyday use today, it is hard to imagine how a military knapsack could cause severe shoulder injury to Arthur or any soldier.

Recommended placement of knapsacks, gear and weapons by Union soldiers to avoid injury and illness. Source: MSHWR

However, their potential to cause injury and illness is documented in the Medical and Surgical History of the War of Rebellion (1861-65), a multi-volume compendium of cases and observations reported by the U.S. medical corps to the Surgeon General — which includes illustrations (above) of ergonomic knapsack protocols.

The packs and gear — which could weigh 40-50 pounds — were especially taxing on the double-quick marches often required of Arthur and other Army of the Potomac troops during the grueling Overland Campaign of 1864.

A lasting injury

As described in Killer knapsack, veteran Union soldiers on the march had learned to jettison their heavy knapsacks and accoutrements — traveling light with just a rifle and ammo, weighing about 10 pounds, and some undergarments rolled into a blanket slung over the shoulder.

But Arthur, when new to the army, may not have known to do this — and appears to have sustained a lasting shoulder injury as a result.

Decades later, this injury required him to submit an additional pension declaration since he could no longer work — then wait for another ruling from the U.S. Pension Board.

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: Jessie Bull marries Sidney Banton

Sepia Saturday 405: Fifth in a series on my Union Army great-great grandfather Arthur Bull and his final years in Salamanca, Cattaraugus County, N.Y.

As the spring of 1888 approached, my paternal great-great grandparents Arthur and Mary (Blakeslee) Bull prepared to celebrate a happy occasion — the marriage of their daughter Jessie Bull to Sidney Banton of Salamanca in Cattaraugus Co., N.Y.

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2016812957/
Woman in wedding dress holding flowers (circa 1900-1910).  My great grandaunt Jessie Bull, who married in 1888, may have worn a similar dress — or possibly something simpler, since her wedding was described as “quiet” in the newspaper. Photo: Library of Congress

Although the Bull family was still in mourning after the recent passing of Mary’s mother, my ggg grandmother Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee, the impending wedding likely lifted everyone’s spirits and set their eyes on the future.

Putting down roots

For Jessie, marrying and putting down roots in Salamanca may also have brought a newfound sense of stability after the Bull family’s many moves throughout her childhood (see table below). Her fiancé Sidney, a store clerk, came from a local family that had lived in the area since the 1860s.

Residences of Jessie Bull in New York State 
Year Source Location Details
 1870  U.S. Census Hancock, Delaware Co., N.Y. (Catskills) Jessie listed as age 1.
 1874 Broome Republican marriage notice Binghamton, Broome Co., N.Y. (Southern Tier) When Jessie was 5, older sister Emma married “at the home of her father in the town of Binghamton.”
 1875 N.Y.S. Census Lyonsdale, Lewis Co., N.Y. (Adirondacks) Jessie, age 6, listed as born in Delaware Co.
 1880  U.S. Census Lyonsdale, Lewis Co., N.Y. (Adirondacks) Jessie A. Bull, 11, born in July 1868, was at school.
 1885 Arthur Bull Pension Record Limestone, Cattaraugus Co., N.Y. (Western N.Y.) Jessie was 17 when a pension doctor examined her father Arthur Bull.
 1888 Cattaraugus wedding anniversary notices Salamanca, Cattaraugus Co., N.Y. (Western N.Y.) Jessie Bull, 19, married Sidney Banton, 22.

That’s quite a few moves for a young woman of 19. And Jessie left friends, schoolmates and older siblings behind with each relocation — including my great-grandmother Eva May (Bull) Charboneau, an older sister who remained in the Adirondacks region after she wed.

Jessie’s marriage to Sidney would anchor her in Western New York for the rest of her life and end the cycle of constant moves.

Announcement of a wedding

Jessie Bull and Sidney Banton were married on 10 May 1888 in a simple wedding at the home of her parents Arthur and Mary (Blakeslee) Bull — according to anniversary newspaper announcements of the happy occasion.

http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn85054110/1928-05-16/ed-1/seq-4/#date1=01%2F01%2F1725&index=0&date2=12%2F31%2F2016&words=Bull+Jessie&to_year2=2016&searchType=advanced&sequence=0&from_year2=1725&proxdistance=5&page=1&county=Cattaraugus&rows=20&ortext=&proxtext=Jessie+Bull&phrasetext=&andtext=&dateFilterType=range&SearchType2=prox5
Fortieth anniversary announcement of Jessie Bull’s 10 May 1888 marriage to Sidney Banton (Cattaraugus Republican, 16 May 1928). Source: NYS Historic Newspapers/NYS Library

 

Their wedding was again celebrated in the Looking Backward column of the local paper sixty years after the event.

http://fultonhistory.com
Sixtieth anniversary announcement of Jessie Bull’s marriage to Sidney Banton (Salamanca Republican-Press 10 May 1948). Source: Old Fulton New York Postcards

 

One hundred thirty years ago in May

Since I don’t know whether the Cattaraugus papers continue these announcements, this blog will serve as the 130th commemoration of Jessie Bull’s marriage to Sidney Banton.

Coming when it did, their wedding surely brought happiness into the lives of my aging great-great grandparents Arthur and Mary (Blakeslee) Bull — along with an extended network of local Banton in-laws.

More in the next post on Arthur Bull’s Salamanca years. 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: Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee R.I.P.

Sepia Saturday 404: Fourth in a series on my Union Army great-great grandfather Arthur Bull and his final years in Salamanca, Cattaraugus County, N.Y.

The year 1888 was significant for my great-great grandparents Arthur and Mary (Blakeslee) Bull, who experienced the ups and downs of family life while living in Salamanca, N.Y.

The first momentous event was the death on 8 Jan. 1888 of Mary’s mother — my widowed great-great-great grandmother Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee — who was living with them at the time.

My ggg grandmother Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee’s stone in Shawsville Cemetery, Conklin, Broome Co., N.Y. Hannah was living with her daughter Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull and son-in-law Arthur in Salamanca, Cattaraugus Co., N.Y., at the time of her death. Photo: Paul R/Find a Grave 1.
Hannah’s history

Hannah has appeared in only one post on Molly’s Canopy, as I have not yet researched her or my Hance ancestors in detail. However, the recent discovery of her obituary stating that she lived with Arthur and Mary at the end of her life prompted me to review what I know about her.

Excerpted Timeline for Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee
Year Source Age Details
1850 U.S. Census, Conklin, Broome Co., N.Y. 37 She lived in household of farmer Z. Blakeslee, 42, with child Mary E, 12. Farm valued at $2,000.
1860 U.S. Census of Hancock, Delaware Co., N.Y. 48 She was living without Z. Blakeslee in household of William and Rhoda A. Whitney.
1880 U.S. Census of Binghamton, Broome Co., N.Y. 68 Living in Butternut St. household of grandson Albert Whitney, 27, wife Kate, 25, and daughter Zara, 5.
1888 Death Certificate, Salamanca, Cattaraugus Co., N.Y. 73 and 11mos. Hanna Blacksley: Widowed, worked as a nurse, born in Susquehanna, . buried in Conklin, N.Y., her father was Waples Hance.
1888 Cattaraugus Republican Jan. 13 obituary 76 Hannah Blakesley: Mother of Mrs. A.T. Bull, at whose residence she died. Transported to Binghamton, N.Y., for funeral, burial.
Shawsville Cemetery stone, Conklin, Broome Co., N.Y. 75 and 11 mos. Hannah Blakeslee, wife of Zebulon, Died Jan . 8, 1888 aged 75 yrs. & 11 ms.

Hannah is mentioned briefly in an 1887 Centennial History of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania as a daughter of Waples Hance who married Zebulon Blakeslee, a local merchant.

She also appears as a daughter of Waples and Rachel (Chapman) Hance in a family tree of  “John Hance and Some of His Descendants” by Rev. William White in the the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record. 2

Yet questions remain: Where was she living in 1870? What became of her husband Zebulon? What can be learned about her early life? When exactly was she born?

Multi-generational household

In 1888, Hannah was the senior member of the three-generation Bull household in 1888. Arthur was the wage-earner. Mary kept house. And the three youngest Bull children (Jessie,19; Alice, 11; and Waples, 10) probably still lived at home.

Arthur was receiving a one-half disability pension for health effects of his Union Army service and unable to work full-time. So possibly trying economic times — and then came the sad occurrence of Hannah’s passing.

Back home to Broome County

Obituary of my ggg grandmother Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee (Cattaraugus Republican, 13 Jan. 1888). From this obituary I learned that Hannah was living with Arthur T. and Mary (Blakeslee) Bull in Salamanca, N.Y., at the time of her death. Scan by Molly Charboneau

According to her obituary, Hannah was transported from Salamanca to Binghamton in Broome County, N.Y., for her funeral and burial — a location she probably considered home.

Hannah grew up and married in the area, where she also raised her daughters Rhoda and Mary.

Rhoda and husband William Whitney still lived there in 1888 — and cemetery records show that he paid for Hannah’s plot.

Hannah is buried in Shawsville Cemetery in Conklin, N.Y. with her extended Bull and Whitney family — and just down the road from Stillwater Cemetery, the final resting place of her parents Waples and Rachel (Chapman) Hance in Corbettsville, N.Y.

A difficult start to 1888 Arthur and Mary (Blakeslee) Bull with Hannah’s passing. Yet despite this loss, happier times were ahead as their daughter Jessie prepared to marry and set up a household of her own.

More 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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Footnotes

  1.  Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 28 January 2018), memorial page for Hannah Blakeslee (Feb 1812–8 Jan 1888), Find A Grave Memorial no. 91413754, citing Shawsville Cemetery, Conklin, Broome County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Paul R (contributor 47317162)
  2.   White, William (1904). John Hance and Some of His Descendants. New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, 35(2), 130.