Category Archives: U.S. Civil War

NYS Archives discoveries: Arthur T. Bull and the GAR collection

Sepia Saturday 501: Launching a new round of posts based on recent research discoveries, starting with my U.S. Civil War ancestor Arthur T. Bull of the 6th New York Heavy Artillery.

In Nov. 2019, I went on a group research trip to the New York State Archives and Library in Albany, N.Y. — two repositories I had long wanted to visit.

While I didn’t have any major genealogy “brick walls” that I was hoping to resolve on the trip, I looked forward to researching in the NYSA’s Grand Army of the Republic New York Department collection.

Researching at the NYS Archives & Library. I was gratified to discover new information about my paternal and maternal ancestors, which will inform future blogs on Molly’s Canopy.

In his later years, my great-great grandfather Arthur T. Bull — a U.S. Civil War veteran of the 6th New York Heavy Artillery — was a member of the GAR’s Nathan Crosby Post 550 in Salamanca, Cattaraugus Co., N.Y.

I have seen a digital image of his post’s Descriptive Book showing his enrollment — but I wanted to see the actual book in the state archives. I also hoped to get a better feel for the GAR through the other records, photos and artifacts in the collection.

Finding aids point the way

The trip organizer from the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society recommended reviewing the NYSA’s online finding aids before the trip — always a good idea when visiting a new repository.

GAR Records at the NYS Archives. These are the  boxes I reviewed from the extensive collection of Grand Army of the Republic New York Department records, photos and artifacts that are housed in the New York State Archives. Photo: Molly Charboneau

Using the extensive GAR finding aid, I made a list of which of the 99 boxes in 14 sub-series I wanted to look at while in Albany.

My list included records of my ancestor’s GAR post, history interviews with 6th New York Heavy Artillery veterans, attendance rolls from GAR artillery encampments, unidentified veteran photos, GAR medals and even circulars and war songs.

Advance preparation was worthwhile, because the staff was able to quickly pull the items I requested — and soon I was delving into boxes of GAR materials piled high on a rolling cart (shown above).

Documents and interviews tell a tale

Of particular interest were written interviews with veterans of the 6th New York Heavy Artillery — my ancestor Arthur T. Bull’s unit — about their wartime experience and the battles they fought in. The GAR undertook these interviews in 1895 to contribute to a history of the U.S. Civil War while its veterans were still alive.

Example of a GAR member interview. To help compile a history of the U.S. Civil War, in 1895 the GAR conducted written interviews of its Union Army veteran members. In this archival document a veteran lists the battles of the 6th NY Heavy Artillery — the unit my ancestor Arthur T. Bull served in from 1864-65. Photo: Molly Charboneau

Alas, my great-great grandfather died in 1890 after suffering from lung and heart disease stemming from his military service. However, returns from surviving 6th NYHA veterans listing officers, battles fought in, and more were fascinating to read — and added to the wartime details I had already learned from my ancestor’s pension record.

Also impressive were the attendance records from GAR Artillery Encampments that took place in the decades following the end of the U.S. Civil War. I did not find my ancestor among these rosters — but I was moved by how consistently some of his fellow 6th NYHA veterans attended these national gatherings until their deaths sadly dwindled their numbers.

My ancestor’s GAR roster and more

Most moving of all was finally holding in my hands the Nathan Crosby Post 550 Descriptive Book listing my ancestor Arthur T. Bull’s enrollment in the GAR.

After researching for more than 25 years, I don’t often get emotional about new discoveries. Yet seeing my ancestor’s name in the roster of fellow Union Army veterans brought tears to my eyes — along with a feeling of deep satisfaction to have pursued my great-great grandfather’s history this far.

In the next post: Photos of the Descriptive Book and other GAR finds. Please stop back! Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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, ( : 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: – 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.

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

1890: Mary E. (Blakeslee) Bull gets probate help from a veteran

Sepia Saturday 435: Third 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.

On 13 Aug. 1890, two days before my paternal great-great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull received her Letters of Administration to oversee disposition of her late husband Arthur’s estate, she signed a financial bond for $150 — a sum she would forfeit if she failed to fulfill her duties.

In the last post, I wrote about one of the co-signers for her bond –lawyer Carey D. Davie, who may have been her attorney. Yet from a family history perspective, the second co-signer William H. Crandall seems to be the more interesting of the two.
Panoramic view of the Giesboro cavalry depot near Washington, D.C. (1865). William H. Crandall, who co-signed my widowed gg grandmother Mary Bull’s administration bond, served here during the U.S. Civil War. Did he and my gg grandfather Arthur know each other from Union Army service? Image: Library of Congress

A Civil War veteran

Because friends, associates and neighbors (FANs) can help flesh out a person’s day-to-day life, I always want to know more about those whose names crop up in ancestor-related documents.

So I got to work seeing what I could find out about William H. Crandall and his possible relationship to Arthur and Mary Bull and their family.

My first discovery was his listing in the 1890 U.S. Census of Veterans and Widows of the Civil War as excerpted below.

1890 Special Schedule – Surviving Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines, and Widows, Etc. Salamanca, N.Y.Source: FamilySearch
Name Rank Co. Rgt. Enlisted Discharged Served
William H. Crandall Private B 9 NY Cavalry 26 Sep. 1861 8 Oct. 1864 3 years 16 days
Post Office Disability Incurred Remarks
Salamanca, Catt. Co., N.Y. 1862 Fever and Asthma

I have not found my great-great grandmother Mary in this census — the census-taker may have missed her since Arthur’s 1890 death was so recent. But finding that William Crandall was a veteran like Arthur was my first clue to how he might know my Bull ancestors.

Friends from the Army?

That got me wondering whether William and Arthur’s service time overlapped. Had they known each other before my ancestors moved to Salamanca — maybe from the army?

My great-great grandfather Arthur began service in the 6th New York Heavy Artillery in January 1864 — partially overlapping William Crandall’s service during 1864. So I looked up William’s 9th NY Cavalry regiment to see what I could find — and there he was on the muster roll.

William’s Company B was recruited in Little Valley, in Cattaraugus County, N.Y. — which is where he signed up. Below is his listing in the 9th NY Cavalry unit roster, printed in 1895.

CRANDALL, WILLIAM.—Age, 21 years. Enlisted, September 23, 1861, at Little Valley; mustered in as private, Co. B, October 8, 1861, to serve three years; transferred, December 10, 1863, to One Hundred and Sixteenth Company, Second Battalion, Veteran Reserve Corps.

The Veteran Reserve Corps (VRC) allowed ill or injured service members — such as William, who developed asthma — to do light duty tasks, freeing up well/uninjured soldiers to remain in the field.

A Washington, D.C. connection?

Below is a summary of William’s VRC unit from the U.S. Civil War Archive site. (Depot Camp was probably Giesboro cavalry depot near the capital city.)

Organized at Depot Camp, Washington, D.C., December 9, 1863. Consolidated with 100th Company, 2nd Battalion, July 29, 1865.

After my ancestor Arthur Bull fell ill in the spring of 1864, I have found no evidence that he was assigned to the VRC. However, he served briefly in Washington, D.C. in September 1864 after returning from hospital — when some VRC units were also deployed on capital defenses. Did his service coincide with Crandall’s?

More on this in the next post. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2018 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin