Sepia Saturday 466. Ninth and last in a series on the early life of my paternal great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull, a Union Civil War widow.
Sometime circa 1852-55 my great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth Blakeslee met and got engaged to my great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull.
Soon wedding bells rang in Brookdale, Susquehanna Co., Penna., as they said their vows and pledged a life together on 11 Aug. 1856. Mary was 18 and Arthur was 22 when they wed.
News of their marriage reached me more than a century later — prompting a 1995 genealogy road trip with my dad to Binghamton, N.Y., to learn more about these ancestors.
In The Tiny Road Map I describe how that journey led to the astonishing discovery that Arthur was a U.S. Civil War veteran.
So I hold a special fondness for the Blakeslee-Bull wedding because it provided my first research clue about these family lines.
A wedding announcement
An announcement of Mary and Arthur’s wedding appeared in 14 Aug. 1856 issue of The Montrose Democrat — a newspaper serving Susquehanna County, Penna.
Although Arthur is listed as “Mr. T. Ball, of Corbettsville, N.Y.” there is no doubt that this is my great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull.
The Susquehanna County Historical Society listed him as Arthur T. Bull when adding this item to their card catalog — which is what led me to the news clip.
Even better, I have direct testimony supporting the newspaper’s details from two wedding witnesses — Mary’s sister Rhoda Ann (Blakeslee) Whitney and her husband William.
Witnesses to a wedding
More then three decades after her 1856 marriage, my great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth had to prove to the U.S. Pension Board that she was entitled to Civil War widow’s benefits from her late husband Arthur’s service in the 6th New York Heavy Artillery.
To verify her marriage Mary relied on an affidavit (excerpted below) from Rhoda Ann and William Whitney of Binghamton, N.Y. — her sister and brother-in-law, who attended the wedding.
On this 26th day of February, 1890, before me, a notary public within and for the county and state aforesaid, duly authorized to administer oaths, personally appeared William Whitney, aged 71 years and Rhoda A. Whitney, aged 59 years, who being by me severally and duly sworn, say:
That they reside at No.
17943 South Street, in the city of Binghamton, Broome County, New York; that they were present at the marriage of Arthur T. Bull to Mary E. Blakslee; and that the said Arthur T. Bull and Mary E. Blakslee were united in marriage at Bookdale, in the Town of Liberty and state of Pennsylvania, on the 11th, Day of August, 1856, by the Reverend Willard Richardson, a Presbyterian clergyman.
No marriage record
That there is no public or private record of said marriage as deponents verily believe; that as deponents are informed and believe it was not then customary among people of said county, at the time of said marriage, to record marriages in town or county records nor required by the laws of said county or state; and that the present whereabouts of said Willard Richardson who married said parties is unknown to deponents and whether he is alive or not is to them unknown.
Deponents further swear that they derive the facts of the said marriage and the time when it took place and where it was performed from a distinct remembrance of the same, said Mary E. being a sister of the deponent Rhoda A. Whitney, and deponent William Whitney being the husband of said Rhoda A.
Starting a life together
My great-great grandmother Mary, 18, was younger than the typical bride of that era when she wed my great-great grandfather Arthur, 22. According to theclassroom.com:
Between 1800 and 1900, women generally married for the first time between the ages of 20 and 22. Less is known about the average age of first marriages for men during the 19th century.
Nevertheless, Mary does not appear to have looked back once they wed. Together she and Arthur weathered separation during the U.S. Civil War, raised nine children, moved around New York State for his job, and persevered in later years as Arthur’s health declined and he applied for his Civil War pension.
Perhaps one day I will locate a photo of my great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull — if some generous Bull or Blakeslee cousin comes forward. But until then, I hope I have done justice to the story of her early years along the New York-Pennsylvania border.
Up next: Fifth Blogiversary for Molly’s Canopy! Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.
© 2019 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.