Sepia Saturday 427: Second in a series about my great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull, a U.S. Civil War widow. Mary was the mother of my paternal great-grandmother Eva (Bull) Charboneau.
When my great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull, 50, filed an 1890 Application for Accrued Pension after the death of her husband Arthur T. Bull, she had to prove several things.
First, she had to show that Arthur was a bona fide military pensioner from his Union service in the U.S. Civil War and that there was an accrued pension amount due.
Then Mary had to verify that she was Arthur’s wife and therefore entitled to the accrued amount. This entailed providing the specifics of their marriage as excerpted below. (Handwritten entries are underlined; strikethroughs were manually entered.)
…that she was married to the said Arthur T. Bull on the Eleventh day of August, 1856, at Brookdale in the State of Pennsylvania; that her name before said marriage was Mary E. Blakslee (sic); that she
had (or had not) been previously married; that her husband had (or had not) been previously married; that she hereby makes application for the pension which had accrued on aforesaid certificate to the date of death; that her residence is No. 82 W. State Street, City Village of Salamanca, County of Cattaraugus, State of New York, and her post office address is Salamanca, Cattaraugus County, N.Y.
A remarkable legacy
What a remarkable legacy with a few strokes of the pen!
Mary gave her maiden name, the exact date of her 11 Aug. 1856 marriage to Arthur and the location of their ceremony in Brookdale, Pennsylvania — all of which backed up some of my earlier research.
In addition, Mary gave the address where she and Arthur lived in Salamanca, N.Y., pinpointing where he spent his final days — which was new information to me.
And her signature on this document was my first tangible memento of my great-great grandmother, since I have inherited no photos of her.
Alas, the court and the Pension Board were not just going to take Mary’s word. They also required witnesses and whatever documentation could be pulled together — not an easy task for the years before state-wide vital records were kept in Pennsylvania and New York.
Accordingly, Mary did not go alone when she filed her claim with Cattaraugus County Judge O.S. Vreeland. Pension paperwork indicates that two “reputable persons” went along to serve as her witnesses.
Who were these witnesses and what were their statements? 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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