Sepia Saturday 401: First in a new series on my Union Army great-great grandfather Arthur Bull and his final years in Salamanca, Cattaraugus County, N.Y.
When I last wrote about my great-great grandfather Arthur Bull, a Union Army veteran, he had finally received a military pension in 1885 for partial disability from his Civil War service. He was 51 years old.
A tanner by profession, Arthur had also relocated from the Adirondack foothills to Salamanca in Western New York’s Cattaraugus County — which is where his story now resumes.
An ideal tannery environment
The Historical gazetteer and biographical memorial of Cattaraugus County, N.Y., edited by William Adams and published in 1893, describes an area that was ideal for the leather tanning industry — with tree bark for tannin and an ample water supply. Shipping finished leather was also easy since Salamanca was a railroad hub.
Before departing the Adirondacks, Arthur worked as a tannery foreman — his stated occupation in the 1880 U.S. Census of Lyonsdale, Lewis Co., N.Y. He probably had to continue working, at least part time, since his Civil War pension was for one-half disability. So he appears to have moved to Western New York in search of tannery work.
Salamanca’s unique history
When Arthur and his wife Mary (Blakeslee) Bull relocated to Salamanca they were among an influx of people moving there (see Table 1).
Table 1. Population of Salamanca, Cattaraugus Co., N.Y. (1855-1890) Source: Historical gazetteer and biographical memorial of Cattaraugus County, N.Y. (Adams: 1893)
According to Adams’ gazetteer, Salamanca, N.Y., was well equipped to handle residential newcomers.
The principal streets have sufficient sewers to afford good drainage, an adequate water system is in operation, and electricity is employed for lighting.
The city was also unique in one other respect. Salamanca was, and still is, located entirely within the Allegheny Reservation of the sovereign Seneca Nation and the land is leased from the Seneca people.
Moving as a family
My paternal great-great grandparents Arthur and Mary Bull moved to Cattaraugus County during the hard-to-document period after the 1880 U.S. Census. Nevertheless, there is some evidence — from his Civil War pension file, later censuses and other sources — that they did not relocate alone.
When the Bulls set out for Western New York in 1885, their younger children Jessie (16), Fred (13), William (11), Alice (8) and Waples (2) were still young enough to be living with their parents and likely moved with them. Some of them show up there as adults in later censuses.
Two older, married daughters — Carrie and Emma — appear to have relocated to Western New York as well, since they were also enumerated there in later censuses.
In addition, I have found evidence that Mary (Blakeslee) Bull’s mother — Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee — lived in Arthur and Mary’s Salamanca household at the end of her life.
Thus, as with previous moves, the Bulls appear to have relocated with family to Cattaraugus County — maintaining an extended support system in their new Salamanca, N.Y., home that would sustain them as they aged.
More on this in the next post. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.
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