1890: A GAR member helps with Arthur T. Bull’s probate

Sepia Saturday 436: Fourth in a series on the settlement of my great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull’s estate. A Union Army veteran of the U.S. Civil War, he was the father of my paternal great grandmother Eva (Bull) Charboneau.

When Union Civil War veteran William H. Crandall co-signed my great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull’s estate administration bond, I wondered how he knew her and my late great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull.

In the last post, I detailed what I learned about William Crandall’s U.S. Civil War service — which in 1864 partially overlapped Arthur’s time in the Union Army. I wondered if they knew each other while serving — a possibility that hinges on one month: September 1864.

Private William Liming of Co. B, 21st U.S. Veteran Reserve Corps Infantry Regiment, and unidentified soldier in same uniform (1865). As a VRC soldier William H. Crandall would have worn one of these distinctive sky-blue uniforms — but he did not directly serve with my gg grandfather Arthur T. Bull. They appear to have met after the war through the Union veterans fraternal group — the Grand Army of the Republic. Image: Library of Congress

A scheduling near miss

In September 1864, Arthur went back on active duty with the 6th New York Heavy Artillery after two months in hospital for war-related illness.

While he was away, Arthur’s unit was stationed at Ft. Stevens and helped repulse a July 1864 attack on Washington, D.C. by Confederate forces from the Shenandoah Valley. The capital’s defenses were strengthened after the attack — and  Arthur’s artillery unit was held there until September 24.

Meanwhile, William Crandall was stationed at Giesboro cavalry depot outside Washington, D.C. doing light-duty work with the Union Veteran Reserve Corp — which was made up of injured and infirm service members.

VRC troops played a valiant, emergency role at Ft. Stevens by beefing up Union lines until reinforcements could arrive. Yet while they may have rubbed shoulders with my great-great grandfather’s fellow artillerists, Arthur wasn’t in D.C. at the time —  and it’s unclear whether VRC soldiers remained on combat duty through September, when he returned.

Enter the GAR

So a new question arose: If William and Arthur didn’t directly serve together, how else might they have met? Then I remembered the Grand Army of the Republic — the fraternal organization of Union Army veterans that my ancestor belonged to.

And that’s where I discovered their connection — as shown in the GAR Descriptive Book excerpt below. [1. New York, Grand Army of the Republic Records, 1866-1931, N. Crosby Post 550 Descriptive Book, entry no. 29 W.H. Crandall and 30, A.T. Bull, digital images, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 12 Sept. 2018)]

William H. Crandall and Arthur T. Bull listings in the Descriptive Book of Nathan Crosby Post 550 NYS GAR – Salamanca, N.Y. – Source: Ancestry.com – New York, Grand Army of the Republic Records, 1866-1931 [2. Ibid.]
No. Name Age Birthplace Residence Occupation
29 W. H. Crandall 45 Oswego, NY Salamanca Merchant
30 A.T. Bull 52 Greene Co., NY Salamanca Tanner
Entry into the Service
Date Rank Co. Regiment
Sep. 25th, 1861 Private B 9 NY C
Jan. 4th, 1864 Private F H. A. NY
Final Discharge
Date Rank Co. Regiment Length of Service Cause of Discharge
Oct. 8th, 1864 Private B 9 NY C 3 years 7 days Ex. of Service
Aug. 24th, 1865 Private F H. A. NY 1 year 2 m. General Order
Date of Muster into the GAR: Arthur – July 21st, 1886; W.H. Crandall – blank (Note: Date of Muster for member above him was Oct. 7th, 1885)

William and Arthur joined their Salamanca, N.Y., GAR post within months of one another. Both men were transplants from elsewhere in New York State and had served overlapping tours in or near Washington, D.C. during the U.S. Civil War — which meant they had some things in common.

They had also been fellow lodge members for more than three years when my great-great grandfather Arthur died in 1890.  So it seems natural that William would help his widow — my great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull — by co-signing her administration bond so she could settle Arthur’s estate.

And William Crandall certainly had the collateral to do it.

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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12 thoughts on “1890: A GAR member helps with Arthur T. Bull’s probate”

  1. It’s good that the bonds created in uniform continued post-Army.
    The pride shines through…even the title “Grand Army of the Republic” reflects the respect they must have had for one another.

    1. Excellent observation, Tony. I have read numerous accounts of U.S. Civil War veterans being reluctant to discuss their wartime experiences. The GAR was probably the place, much like the VA today, where they could open up to fellow veterans who understood what they had gone through.

  2. I’ve found that many men in small town America of the 1870s – 1900s belonged to several fraternal societies. It was effective networking for both business and social contacts. These groups also were very fond of lots of elaborate rituals and fancy uniforms. The G.A.R. was of course a very powerful political voice in America’s postwar era.

    1. Very true. I have several collateral relatives who belonged to fraternal societies. However, the GAR was unique in being integrated and open to all Union veterans, which was unfortunately not true of the other groups — at least in their early iterations.

    1. Thanks, Alex…nice to see you back here! I also love the photo. Although it doesn’t depict Arthur and William, it does show the camaraderie of Union soldiers and veterans, which lasted long after the Civil War’s end.

    1. Thanks, Barb. So grateful for the digitized photos, records and online repositories that have sped up the discovery of ancestral details!

  3. How fortunate for Mary her husband had such a good lodge member friendship with William that led William to help her in her time of need.

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