Category Archives: Graff

1890: Widow Mary E.(Blakeslee) Bull’s minor children

Sepia Saturday 431: Sixth 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.

As the surviving spouse of U.S. Civil War veteran Arthur T. Bull, Mary E. (Blakeslee) Bull was entitled to a widow’s pension – which she applied for shortly after his January 1890 death.

However, minor children of deceased veterans were entitled to pension benefits as well. Since Mary’s two youngest children — daughter Alice, 13, and son Waples, 11 — were still living at home, her widow’s pension file also includes paperwork on their behalf.
Daguerreotype of a young mother with children (circa1850s). When my great-great grandmother Mary E. (Blakeslee) Bull was widowed in 1890, her two youngest children, daughter Alice and son Waples,, still lived at home. As dependent children of a deceased U.S. Civil War veteran, they were also entitled to pension benefits. Image:

As with Mary’s marriage details, the birth dates of her minor children had to be verified for years when New York State did not require statewide vital records registration. So yet another Bull family member stepped up to help.

Birth details from an older sibling

In June 1891 Carrie A. (Bull) Graff, 31 appeared as a witness before Cattaraugus County Justice of the Peace T. H. Dowd. She stated she was present in the home for the births of her youngest siblings Alice and Waples Bull.

A General Affidavit submitted to the Pension Board sums up Carrie’s testimony about the births of her youngest siblings. (Handwritten portions are underlined below.)

State of New York, County of Cattaraugus, ss: In the matter of Claim for pension No. 427.089. of Mary E. Bull, widow of Arthur T. Bull Co. L. 6” Regt. N.Y.H.A. Vols.

On this 20th Day of June A.D. 1891 personally appeared before me a Justice of the Peace in and for the aforesaid County duly authorized to administer oaths, Carrie A. Graff aged 31 years, a resident of Salamanca in the County of Cattaraugus and State of New York whose Post Office address is Salamanca well known to me to be reputable and entitled to credit, and who, being duly sworn, declared in relation to aforesaid case as follows.

I am a daughter of the above named claimant and was at home with my mother at the time of the birth of her two children Alice I. Bull, who was born at Moose River, Lewis County, N.Y. on the 29th day of September 1876 and at the time of the birth of Waples H. Bull who was born at Moose River, Lewis County, N.Y. on the 12th day of April 1878.

Affiant further says that she was well and personally acquainted with the midwife who attended the claimant at the times and she knows said midwife has since died.

I further declare that I have no interest in said case and that I am not concerned in its prosecution. [Signature of Affiants.] Mrs. Carrie A. Graff

Some Bull family history

Each time I read this affidavit I am amazed at how much I learned from it. Not only did Carrie identify herself as Mary’s daughter, but I learned that Graff was surname of her first husband.

I also learned the exact dates and locations of Alice and Waples’ births — and that they were delivered by a midwife. And Waples’ 1878 birth in Moose River helped me establish that Arthur and Mary Bull remained in Lewis County at least until April of that year.

Carrie also indicated that, like her parents, she lived in Salamanca, Cattaraugus Co., N.Y. — opening up new research questions. Did she move there along with them? Did they decide to relocate to Western New York because daughter Carrie and her husband already lived there? Or did Carrie and her spouse move to Salamanca later, in order to assist her mother after Arthur’s death?

Whatever the sequence, Carrie’s testimony, received at the pension  office on 25 June 1891, surely helped verify her siblings’ claims for dependent pension coverage — while providing valuable Bull family history in the process.

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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