30 Jan. 1890: Arthur T. Bull RIP

Sepia Saturday 425: Fourth and last in this series on my Union Army great-great grandfather Arthur Bull’s final years as a U.S. Civil War pensioner.

Every family historian has that one ancestor whose story takes hold of them like no other — and the story of my great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull was the one that spoke to me. So it is understandably hard for me to bid him farewell after writing about his final days in the last post.

Arthur T. Bull Obituary (Cattaraugus Republican 31 Jan. 1890) — A.T. Bull died yesterday morning from the effects of pneumonia resulting from the grip. The funeral will occur to-morrow at 2 p.m. at the M.E. church.

From discovering his Union Army service on a road trip with my late dad and traveling to Washington, D.C., to obtain his pension file, to attending reenactments of the battles he fought in that prompted me to launch Molly’s Canopy — my ancestor Arthur T. Bull has been a game changer for me.

I’m proud to have brought Arthur’s story to light on Molly’s Canopy — something my great-great grandfather would never have imagined while taking life as it came more than a century ago.  But I did not do it alone.

It takes a village

Every genealogist knows that it takes a village of helping hands to find an ancestor and tease out the details of a forbear’s life — and so it was with Arthur.

Tombstone of Arthur T. Bull in Wildwood Cemetery, Salamanca, N.Y. (2005). Every family historian has that one ancestor whose story takes hold of them like no other — and the story of my great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull was the one that spoke to me. Photo courtesy of Wildwood Cemetery staff.

His pension file provided information about his military life, and the U.S. and New York State censuses helped me track his many moves around the state.

But it took the personal touch of city, library and cemetery workers to flesh out vital information about Arthur’s end of life, and I owe them my thanks. Among them:

  • The Salamanca City Clerk who sent me Arthur’s death certificate, indicating he was buried in Wildwood Cemetery in Salamanca, Cattaraugus County, New York.
  • The Salamanca Public Library librarian who located and mailed me Arthur’s newspaper obituary, which is quoted above.
  • The Wildwood Cemetery worker who graciously took the above photo of Arthur’s tombstone, which has been framed on my desk for years.

Arthur revisited

For those of you who have grown to love Arthur as I have, take heart. There is still much of his backstory to uncover — including the details of his birth and early years — so he will reappear on Molly’s Canopy at some point in the future.

Meanwhile, the end of Arthur’s life brought a new set of circumstances for his immediate family — his widow Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull, their two minor children Alice and Waples — as well as the extended Bull family who rallied to assist them.

And a new struggle unfolded as my great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth applied for a Civil War widow’s pension — a process requiring its own set of forms, proofs and affidavits. In the next post, I will begin the story of the Bull family’s challenges in a post-Arthur world.

Up next: Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull files for a widow’s pension. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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7 thoughts on “30 Jan. 1890: Arthur T. Bull RIP”

  1. Thanks everyone for your insightful comments. We all depend so much on the genealogical helping hands that provide us with the records we need, so I felt it only fitting to render praise where it is due. And the same gratitude goes out to those who digitize and index local newspapers — and to previous generations of our own families who preserved and passed down diaries and other mementos to us. Where would we be without them?

  2. It is true that it takes a village to flesh out the stories and fragment we get from some preserved records. And librarians! Aren’t they wonderful? I never thought about contacting a librarian to help with my research until a librarian friend told me to.

  3. You have done an excellent job tracing your great great grandfather, Arthur’s military life. I had an easier job of it since my great grandfather, who was in the Union Navy in the Civil War, kept a journal of different parts of his life which I now have and truly treasure!

  4. I’ve enjoyed your wonderful series on Arthur very much. (I caught up on your posts from earlier this month.) This kind of research does indeed take a village. I live in a historic neighborhood, and lately I’ve started to help my neighbors discover more about the families that once lived in their homes by searching for report of the addresses in the newspaper archives of our local paper. Sometimes pictures were included with the articles – weddings, anniversaries, etc. that add a personal touch to the history.

  5. I liked the different approach you used to tell us about your research into Arthur’s life, especially you singling out the great customer service you received from various agencies.

  6. Great to see you give credit to those who helped you in your researches. When working with Ancestry, I’m often looking for sources of materials that are copied but not credited. I’m afraid our digital age has meant many documents will be published without the strings of sources remembered, which makes many of them questionable as to authenticity. I am looking forward to your well-written stories of your ancestors!

  7. I look forward to reading about what happened next. Reading that your great great grandfather was was 56 when he died, made me go back and look to see how old my great grandmother’s brother Thomas Allen was when he died. He was 60.

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