RAGU Challenge

Compiled by Bruce W. Cortis,   2014

All rights reserved



Who were Benjamin B. Hull, Civil War casualty and his minor sister Sylvia who received his pay distribution ?

The investigation begins with discovering an original, notarized Treasury Document 1 authorizing pay of $339.13 to one Charles C. Kirby, guardian of Sylvia Hull, who was the minor sister of Benjamin B. Hull.  Benjamin B. Hull served in Company E, of the New York 2nd Mounted Rifles Regiment. The bottom half of the document is notarized, documenting Mr. Kirby as having received the payment.  The raised notarized seal also indicates Buffalo, Erie, N.Y. as the location with Samuel Lake and F.L. Kinsky as witnesses.   The next document to hone in on the residence of Benjamin B. Hull comes from a record from the New York Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts2.   The muster record notes his age as 18 years, enlisted at Lockport, N.Y.; mustered 29 Jan 1864 in Co. E of the 2nd Mounted Rifles Regiment; killed 30 July 1864 in front of Petersburg, Va.  The information on the two documents are documents are consistent for his dates of service and the company and regiment he enlisted in.

The final document confirming the place of residence for Benjamin and his sister Silvia is the United States Federal Census, specifically the 1860 Census for Somerset, Niagara County, New York.3     Several items on the census link Benjamin and Silvia to the previous 2 documents.   Lockport, N.Y.,  Benjamin’s place of enlistment is less than 30 miles from Somerset which establishes the proper geographical area.  In 1860, Benjamin is 14 which aligns with the first two documents.  Sylvia is 11 years of age also consistent with the fact that she would have still been a minor when he perished in 1864.   This Census for Somerset shows Benj B Hull, (14) and what appears to be his father, also Benj (63) living in the household of Hibbard and Phebe Fuller.  Six families away in terms of family visitation are Sylvia (11) and Edward Hull (10/12) living in the home of Alman [Almond] and Jennie Frost.   There is no indication of who might have been Benjamin, Sylvia and Edward’s mother.  Nor has any record been found to date.  The fact Edward is only 10/12 years strongly suggests Mrs. Hull may have died during or after childbirth.  Also, U.S. census records both prior to and subsequent from 1860 strongly imply a tight connection between the Hull, Fuller and Frost families.  While not pertinent to establishing the residence of Benjamin and Sylvia, those census’s and other records may hold the keys to establishing the full structure of the Hull family and the identification of Mrs. Hull.

Source Documents:

  1. US Treasury Department Appropriation N0. 197880, an original notarized document in the personal possession of Bruce W. Cortis, Feeding Hills, Ma.
This document was acquired at a Flea Market/Tag Sale in Western Massachusetts in 2012.   Ongoing research with the objective of re-uniting it with a family descendant is ongoing.  

  1. Ancestry.com, New York, Civil War Muster Abstracts, 1861-1900,   [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc 2011

Original data: Civil War Muster Rolls Abstracts of the New York Volunteers, United States Sharpshooters and United States Colored Troops [ca.1861-1900] (microfilm 1185 rolls), Albany New York: New York State Archives.

  1. United States Federal Census Collection

 Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

Original data: Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. (NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Supporting images of documents referenced

US Treasury Appropriation No. 197880 for disbursement of monies to the Guardian of Sylvia Hull from Benjamin B. Hull’s service time.

Muster Roll Abstract for Benjamin B. Hull, Co E, 2nd Mounted Rifle Regiment, N.Y.

Abstract from United States Federal Census - 1860   Somerset, Niagra, New York (pages 33 & 34)