1890: An administration bond for Mary E.(Blakeslee) Bull

Sepia Saturday 434: Second in a series on the settlement of my great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull’s estate. A Union Army veteran, he was the father of my paternal great grandmother Eva (Bull) Charboneau.

Nine months after great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull, 57, died without a will on 30 January 1890, his widow Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull was appointed administratrix of his estate by the Surrogate Court of Cattaraugus Co., N.Y.

Perhaps not the best time for Mary, who was simultaneously applying for Civil War pension benefits for herself and her two youngest children.

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Law books. Probate documents generate information that can help illuminate an ancestor’s story. That was certainly true of my great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull’s estate settlement.

But with Arthur and Mary’s seven other adult children scattered throughout New York State, she was the logical beneficiary to take on the task. And as the surviving spouse, by law Mary was also the first one the court was obligated to turn to since Arthur left no will naming an executor.

Letter and bond

When the court appointed Mary as administratrix, it required a guarantee that she would responsibly carry out her duties.

So on 13 Aug. 1890, two days before Mary received her Letters of Administration to oversee disposition of her husband’s estate, she signed a financial bond for $150 — a sum she would forfeit if she fell short on the job.

Mary had no income at the time. Where could this money come from? That’s where her two cosigners stepped in — Carey D. Davie and William H. Crandall — each with a different relationship to the Bull family.

Carey D. Davie, an attorney, has appeared on this blog before — as a witness on Mary’s 14 March 1890 application for her late husband’s accured U.S. Civil War pension benefits.

On that application, Mr. Davie testified that he knew Mary was Arthur’s wife “from acquaintance with Mr. Bull and family and from general reputation.”

Family friend, attorney or both?

So was he a friend of the family? Or did he serve as Mary’s lawyer after Arthur’s death? Or possibly both?

Whatever the circumstances, on 13 Aug. 1890 he was willing to step up as a co-signer on Mary’s administration bond and provide the following notarized details of his assets. (Handwritten portions are underlined below.)

Carey D. Davie of Salamanca N.Y, the surety named in the foregoing bond  being…duly sworn,…deposes and says that he owns in his own right real estate in the town of Salamanca consisting of house and lot and the same is of the value not less than eight hundred dollars…exempt by law from levy and sale under an execution.

And…that he owns personal estate in the town aforesaid and that its value is not less than two thousand dollars that it consists of bonds. stock…and that he is worth in good property not less than twenty five hundred dollars over all the debts and liabilities which he owes or has incurred  and exclusive of property exempt from levy and sale under an execution.

In short, Mary had a backer for her $150 bond with sufficient collateral to satisfy the court should she default in her administratrix duties. Nor was he the only one, for William H. Crandall also co-signed the bond and listed his assets.

More on Mr. Crandall and his unique relationship to the Bull family in the next post. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

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2 thoughts on “1890: An administration bond for Mary E.(Blakeslee) Bull”

    1. I have a feeling Carie Davie was confident that Mary would complete her administratrix duties and was thus not worried about having to pay. But you’re right, more than enough to cover the bond if needed.

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