Octave Bruso Diary: Notes About Octave Bruso of the 50th New York Engineers

   

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BTC Editor’s Note: Octave Bruso’s diary is now posted in its entirety here at The Siege of Petersburg Online: Beyond the Crater.  Bruso’s Great-Great Grandson Tom Bauerle transcribed this entire diary, and I’d like to thank him again for his generosity in allowing the diary to be posted here.  Bauerle’s transcription was followed by the notes on Bruso compiled below.

Notes for Octave Bruso:1
Octave Brosseau was born within the St. Luc Parish of Montreal on October 18, 1837. His parents, Francois Brosseau and Marie Salomee Duquette moved to Kankakee County, Illinois between 1848-1852. It is unknown whether Octave came with his parents to Illinois, but Octave did arrive in Buffalo during the 1850’s. His obituary (1897) stated that he had been in Buffalo, NY for 43 years, and put his arrival in Buffalo in 1854, when he would have been around 17.

 

The name Brosseau morphed into Bruso.

Why Buffalo? The answer: opportunity! Buffalo was thriving and growing in the 1850’s. In 1835, the population of Buffalo was 15,661. By 1850 this number had swelled to 42,261, and almost doubled again by 1860 to 81,129. This exciting time is captured by Dr. Hermann Sass in his book about pioneer developer Jesse Ketchum, “The Bountiful Baron of Buffalo” (1984, second edition, page 23):

“The years from the mid-1840’s to the 1850’s were the most active Buffalo had ever seen, and trade and manufacturing, navigation and railroad building flourished. Elevators, factories, mills, mercantile blocks, residences, churches and school-houses went up, and the city became an intra-continental and international metropolis. Fleets of steamers and sailing craft brought to her doors the products of the West, which were transferred at Buffalo from lake boats to canal boats or railways…Buffalo was the main artery of trade between the East and West.”

City Directories show a Peter Bruso in Buffalo in 1853, working as a sawyer at Townsend’s Steam Saw Mill on Tonawanda Street. By 1859 Peter, Antoine, Frederick and Louis Bruso were listed in these directories, and these men were all noted in the Federal Census of 1860, but Octave is not listed as being in Buffalo. Rather, Octave was listed as living in Adrian, Michigan.

 

On November 11, 1861, he joined the 5th Missouri Infantry, Company G. the following comes from his file at the National Archives in D.C.:

Headquarters 5th Regt. Inftry. Mo. Vol. Camp Merrill nea Sulphur Springs. Sept. 25, 1862. Brig. Genl. Davidson, USA, Comdg. St. Louis Division. General: I received a communication this morning from your A.A. Genl. to the effect, that Sergt. Bruso of my Regt. was arrested as a deserter under Genl. Orders 65 War Dept. and that also I myself will be tried for disobedience of same orders. At any time ready to obey orders, I would most respectfully request your information, whether I have to consider myself under arrest or not in consequence of said communication; if not I am induced to consider the above only as a warning to be carefull (sic) in regard to the issue of passes. Coincident with said case of Sergt. Bruso I have to make the following preamble: I did never receive Genl. Orders 65, War Department, neither did I ever notice said order in the newspapers. Nevertheless I am posted enough to know, how I have to act in regard to the issue of passes for absentees; and in the case of Sergt. Bruso I have to remind you of that general order, in accordance of which every soldier of the Volunteers has the right to be transferred to the gunboat-service. Sergt. Bruso received the appointment in the gunboat service and on account of his written certificates my Adjut. wrote him a leave of absence to arrange this matter satisfactorily in consequence of said Genl. Order. Now I leave it to you to decide, whether I have done my duty or not; in all events you would oblige me, to accept my signature as, Your most obediant servant, Aug. H. Paten, Col. Comdg. 5th Regt. Mo. Vols. Inf.”

A note in the file reads:

“Sulphur Springs, Sept. 25th, 1862. Paten, A.H. Col. 5th Inftry. Mo. Vols. Has rec’d com. from Capt. Griffing A.A.G. in relation to the arrest of Sgt. Brusso (sic) of his Regt. as deserter, under Gen’l Ord. 65, War Dept., asks if he is to consider himself as under arrest in consequence of said com. States that he has never rec’d Gen’l Orders No. 65 War Dept. nor has he ever seen ‘it’ in print. States circumstances wh’ led to the issuing of Seg’t Brusso’s pass-Serg’t Brusso, it appears, not being to blame in this matter will be released from arrest, and ordered to join his company. Col. Paten is not considered on arrest. J.W. Davidson (Brigade?) Gen’l

“Headquarters 5th Regt. Infantry, Mo. Volunteers. Camp Curtis near Pilot Knob, Mo., Oct. 7, (18)62. Brig. Genl. Davidson. Comdg. St. Louis District. Genl: Orderly Sergeant Octave Bruso of Comp. G of this Regt. deserted the Regt. about 2 weeks ago and he likewise defrauded the government for about 59 pounds of coffee. I caused him to be arrested and he is now confined in Adrian, Michigan in the jail by F.J. Hough, County Sheriff. Therefore I would most respectfully request you, to cause Octave Bruso to be brought in irons to this post. I am, General, your most obedient servant, E. Strodtman, Lieut. Col. Comng. 5th Regt. Mo. Vols. Inf.”

A note: “Pilot Knob-Oct. 7, 1862. Strodtman, E. Lt. Col. 5th Mo. Vols. Requests that Seg’t Octave Bruso, a deserter from comp. G, who has been arrested and is now confined in jail at Adrian, Michigan, be brought to the post in irons.”

 

There is no further information available regarding Octave’s experience in the Missouri regiment, though Octave’s 1864 diary does refer to “papers from St. Louis.”
In July of 1862, during the American Civil War, Colonel John B. Stuart left the Virginia camp of the 50th NY Engineers to recruit fresh troops (“Bridge Building In Wartime: Colonel Wesley Brainerd’s Memoir of the 50th New York Volunteer Engineers,” Edited by Ed Malles, University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, 1997).

Recruiting advertisements appeared in the Buffalo newspapers four months later, in November and December 1862. The ad in the Daily Courier of December 8, 1862 reads:

 

“The Stuart Cavalry: The late order of the War Department, defining the organization of Regiments and Companies of Volunteer Engineers. War Department, Adjutant General’s Office, Washington, October 31st, 1862. The Regiments and Companies of Volunteer Engineers recognized by the 30th section of the Act of July 17th, 1862, will have the following organizations: ….64 privates for a company of engineers. The above order includes the 50th Regiment New York Volunteer Engineers, Charles B. Stuart commanding, which now has more than eleven hundred men in the ranks. This order increases its number to eighteen hundred enlisted men, making, when filled to the maximum strength including its officers, eighteen hundred and sixty eight men. Col. Stuart has during the past two months recruited and sent forward to his regiment more than four hundred men, chiefly mechanics, many of them from his county. This new order authorizes him to enlist seven hundred more, which he hopes to accomplish before the draft is made in the districts where the quota is not filled, the extra pay and rank of Engineer Corps commend this opportunity specially to mechanics and boatmen. For further information, apply to Sgt. Herman Dean, 295 Main St.”

On Monday, December 8, 1862 (Report of the Adjutant General), at the age of 25 Octave enlisted at Buffalo as a private in Company E of the 50th Regiment of NY Engineers, to serve three years. Two days later, well before Octave could have been involved, this regiment suffered 9 combat deaths and 40 injuries in the Battle of Fredericksburg, but E Company was stationed at Washington and Belle Plain during this engagement. Two weeks after Octave’s enlistment, Col. Brainerd, who had been wounded at Fredericksburg, met with Col. Stuart during Christmas 1862, and Brainerd commented that Stuart “was recruiting for the Regiment and was very successful in raising men.” (Brainerd, p. 124) Octave was one of those new recruits.

Less than two months after enlisting, on February 1, 1863 Octave was promoted to the rank of corporal.

Brainerd writes: “Colonel Stuart returned to the headquarters of the Regiment at Acquia Creek about the first of March, having been absent since the July previous, a period of about seven months. He had recruited quite a large number of men for the Regiment, including a band.” (Brainerd, p.131) Is this when Octave’s company arrived in Virginia?

Company muster roll records state that Octave was detached with a pontoon train on April 27, 1863 for service at Belle Plain. A May 16, 1863 letter from H.W. Benham, Lieutenant Colonel of Engineers and Brigadier General to General Joseph G. Totten, Chief of Engineers (War of the Rebellion series) describes the building of 14 bridges across the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg between April 28 and May 5, 1863 under violent rains and Confederate shelling.

On May 4, 1863 Octave returned from the pontoon train assignment, and was present with his company from May to November of 1863. He was granted a 10 day furlough from Rappahannock Station, Virginia beginning December 24, 1863 for the Christmas holiday, by order of General Meade. This was apparently reduced to a six day furlough, as he returned to his company on New Year’s Day, 1864.
Within a month, by order of the Governor of New York, Octave was absent on furlough for thirty days, beginning on January 26, 1864. This is the point where Octave’s diary begins.

During this break from military service, on February 16, 1864, the 26 year old corporal married 19 year old Charlotte Henry Pierce in Buffalo. Charlotte’s adoptive father was Clark Pierce, a ship carpenter and teamster in his sixties.

Muster records confirm the newlywed was back with Company E for March and April, 1864. In March, a photographer visited the 50th NY Engineers at Rappahannock Station, and took pictures of the camp, its stockade entrance, officers, and pontoon wagons. These photographs are held by the US Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks, PA.

 

During May and June, 1864, Octave was temporarily absent with entrenching tools. Records do not indicate his assignment, but a photograph exists of the 50th NY Engineers cutting a road on the south side of the North Anna River in Virginia in May 1864. In his application for a veteran’s pension 25 years later, Octave would claim that in June 1864 he contracted “rheumatism from exposure and (?) laying in the wet and mud” in front of Petersburg. Was this a result of the road cutting assignment, where overnight accommodations would have been of a more temporary nature?

Octave returned to his company for July, when he was in charge of entrenching tools for the 6 Corps. A photograph was made of Officers of the 50th NY Engineers in July, 1864, in front of Petersburg, VA. There is a man in the photo who bears a resemblance to Octave. Randy Hackenburg at the USAMHI writes in January 1999 that “the rank of corporal was that of an enlisted man, not a commissioned officer. Corporals and sergeants were considered non-commissioned officers. The man you circled is wearing an enlisted man’s uniform, but no rank can be seen on it.” Octave was present with his company through October, 1864. In November, 1864, a photographer made views of the Poplar Grove Church in front of Petersburg, built by the 50th, the headquarters, and Commissary Department. Octave was made sergeant the following month, on December 27, 1864.

A photographer was with the 50th in March, 1865, and photographed the officer’s quarters and Poplar Grove Church, headquarters and surgeon’s quarters in front of Petersburg. As the Civil War drew to a close, Octave served as Acting Quartermaster Sergeant during March through May 1865. He was mustered out of service with the rest of Company E on June 13, 1865 at Fort Barry, Va. During the course of the war, the 50th New York Engineers suffered regimental casualties of 20 killed in action, and 207 deaths due to disease.

Octave’s discharge paper reads: “To All Whom It May Concern, Know ye, that Octave Bruso, a Sergeant of Captain George L. Kenyon, Company E, 50th Regiment of New York Engineer Volunteers, who was enrolled on the eighth day of December one thousand eight hundred and sixty two to serve three years or during the war, is hereby discharged from the service of the United States this thirteenth day of June, 1865, at Fort Barry, VA, by reason of Special Order No. 192. (3 words not readable). No objections to his being re-enlisted is known to exist. Said Octave Bruso was born at Montreal, in the state of Canada, is twenty five years of age, five feet five inches high, fair complexion, grey eyes, brown hair, and by occupation when enrolled, a merchant. Given at Fort Barry, Va., this thirteenth day of June 1865. (Signed) Stephen Chester, Lt. Col. 15th NYV Engineers (Note: Chester was a former POW who had been promoted to this rank on May 30, 1865), Com. Musters. (Signed) G. Kenyon (George L. Kenyon), Capt. 50th NYV Engineers.”

Upon his return to Buffalo, 28 year old Octave found work as a clerk at the S.O. Barnum Variety Store on Main Street. Eleven months after his discharge from the Army his first child, Clark Frank (apparently named for the child’s grandfathers, Clark Pierce and Francois Brosseau) was born. Octave, Charlotte, and little Clark Frank lived on North Washington ST (now West Avenue), apparently with Charlotte’s adoptive parents. In the Federal Census of 1870, the elderly Clark and Ruth Pierce are shown living with Octave, Charlotte, four year old Frank, and eight month old Mary. City directories show the families living at 362 North Washington. On December 27, 1871, Octave bought property at 150 Delavan AVE, near N. Washington (West AVE) from Clark Pierce for $500 (Liber 316, p. 188). The record of this sale was filed January 3, 1872. Less than a week later, on January 9, 1872, Clark Pierce died at 78. Two and a half years later, Ruth died. Octave and Charlotte were sued by the Erie Co. Saving Bank in Superior Court on July, 7 1878 (Liber 244, Page 138, Series to 1895, Notice of Respondency to Action). They were represented by Sprague, Gorham, and Bacon. On September 23, 1878, Octave’s mother Marie Salomee died in Illinois. On October 16, 1878 (Liber 285, P. 303) there was further action in Superior Court. Octave continued his work at Barnum’s until 1880, when at 42 he gained an appointment as a Sealer of Weights and Measures for the City of Buffalo.

During the Common Council meeting of Monday, January 5, 1880 (Proceedings of the Council, City of Buffalo, 1880, p. 14), Octave was chosen to be one of three Sealers of Weights and Measures. The three evidently found that department in a state of disorganization, missing the basic tools with which it was supposed to function. A communication of Monday, January 12, 1880 (Proceedings of the Council, p. 37) reads:

“Gentlemen: Upon examination of the weights and measures belonging to the City of Buffalo, we find that there is short one (1) ten pound brass weight and one (1) half-pint measure. Also that the weights from four (4) pounds down are composed of part brass and part iron, and a number lost. The brass portion of them are in such a dilapidated condition that we consider them unfit for the use of the city, and therefore pray that we be authorized to purchase a new set at an expense not to exceed fifteen dollars. Very respectfully submitted, Octave Bruso, Edward M. Smith, William H. Higham, Sealers of Weights and Measures.” Council approved the replacement of the defective devices. The three appointees so advised the council on February 16, 1880 (Proceedings of the Council, City of Buffalo, 1880, p. 116):

“In compliance with a resolution of your Honorable Body, passed January 12, authorizing us to procure a new set of weights for use of city sealers. We respectfully report that we have procured the same from Weeks and Ray, and would recommend that an order for $12.90 be drawn in their favor for the amount.” This request was approved by council.

During the July 19, 1880 meeting (Proceedings,1880, p. 580) the Sealers of Weights and Measures informed the council that they had been ordered to move from their office:

“To the Honorable Common Council: Gentlemen, we would respectfully inform your Honorable Body that we have received notice to vacate our room in the police building, as the Commissioners want to use the same. And we respectfully ask your Honorable Body to designate some place to put the city property.” This communication was received and referred to the Committee on public buildings.

During this period, Octave would have come into contact with 12th Ward Alderman John Conrad Hanbach. Hanbach’s daughter Kate would marry Octave’s son Frank in the years to come.

During the Monday, January 3, 1881 meeting (Proceedings, 1881, p. 15), Octave was re-elected as a Sealer of weight and measures.

In 1882, during the mayoralty of Grover Cleveland, Octave was paid for rendering a variety of services to the City of Buffalo. On Monday July 3, 1882 (Proceedings, 1882, p. 697) he earned $6.75 in Constable fees. That same day, July 3, 1882, his one and a half year old daughter Ethel Elizabeth died. On October 9, 1882 (Proceedings, 1882, p. 965), Octave was paid $2.00 for posting election notices. On October 23, 1882 (Proceedings, 1882, p. 1003) “Constable fees for Attorney’s Department” netted Octave $10.95. He also earned $18.40 on December 11, 1882 (Proceedings, 1882, p. 1127) for repairing stoves at School 19.

1883 saw Octave assume the role of 11th Ward Constable, following a resignation. The former Constable wrote on January 15, 1883: “I herewith tender my resignation as Constable of the 11th Ward of the City of Buffalo from this date, and recommend appointment of Octave Bruso in my place.” (Proceedings, 1883, p. 32). Octave received all 26 votes. On January 29, 1883 (Proceedings, 1883, p. 79) he was paid $4.00 as poll clerk for District 3, Ward 11. On April 16, 1883 (Proceedings, 1883, p. 294) he received $6.45 for “services for City Attorney’s Department.”

From 1882-1887 Octave was listed in City Directories as a Civil Constable for the 11th Ward. The job apparently had its tense moments. The May 5, 1883 edition of the Daily Courier reported: “A genuine case of eviction occurred on Illinois Street yesterday. William Riding and family had occupied the frame house, number 57, for over twenty five years. The land on which this house stands was deeded to the city of Buffalo many years ago by General Wadsworth. The city failed to improve or occupy the land, and the Ridings and another family named Wilcox squatted on it. By virtue of their long occupation they claim the right to take possession of it. It lies adjacent to the SS Jewett and Co. foundry and the latter firm about a year ago received permission from the city to close the street and remove the houses. The firm sent a number of notices to the Ridings to vacate, to which no attention was paid. Yesterday morning Constable Bruso, accompanied by a posse of men, went to the house with a warrant for ejectment issued by the municipal court. After serving it he proceeded to put the household goods into the street and barricade the doors and windows. Mrs. Riding and her son William were in the house, the latter being at breakfast. They resisted but were hustled out and placed under arrest. Mrs. Riding was taken before Justice O’Brian, who discharged her. The boy appeared before Justice King in the police court in the afternoon and was sent to jail to await trial for assault in he third degree. Mr. Riding stated that he paid $40 per year as taxes while he occupied the place.”

“For Assaulting a Constable: William Riding and Thomas Harringer, charged with assault on Constable Bruso when he was trying to evict Mrs. Riding from the house on Illinois street yesterday afternoon, were before Judge (Thomas) King this morning. Harringer was discharged and Riding fined $5.” (Buffalo Evening News, Saturday May 5, 1883, 4th Edition)

A month and a half later, on June 22, 1883, Octave’s father Francois died in Illinois. Just over two months later, The Buffalo Evening News mentioned Octave in September 11, 1883’s Fourth Edition:

“Squatter Sovereignty (note: ‘Squatter Sovereignty’ was the title of a play then in Buffalo. An Irish comedy by Harrigan and Hart): Almost a Riot on the Island this Morning-An Agreement Brought About. Constable Bruso of the Municipal Court went down to the sea wall about half past eight this morning to tear down the house of John Botken, who was occupying the land of the B.N.Y. & P. railroad on the Island. Mr. Bruso had Captain Murphy and three men, and 9 carpenters furnished by the B., N.Y. & P., who had the necessary tools to tear the house down. The men had been on the scene but a few minutes when there was a crowd of 200 or more Island people who looked for business. The carpenters, who composed the largest part of Mr. Bruso’s force, refused to undertake the job, as it looked too bold for a successful result. Mr. Spencer, the house-builder and mover, bought a strip of land back of the lot occupied by the B., N.Y. & P., and convinced Mr. Botken that it was better to move on to the strip for which he had paid and would give them without cost. They agreed and the Constable’s posse withdrew.”

The September 13, 1883 edition of the Daily Courier: “Not So Bad After All: Yesterday morning between 8 and 9 o’clock Constable Bruso of the municipal court, accompanied by some eight or nine carpenters furnished by the Buffalo, New York and Philadelphia Railroad company, three special officers, Josiah S. Spencer, contractor and house mover, and the captain of No. 9 precinct, proceeded to the island, near what is known as the sea wall, for the purpose of moving the house of a man named John Bodkin from some property recently purchased by the railroad company. On arriving at the scene of action they were met by some 200 or 300 of the islanders who for years have held undisputed possession of the property and settled thereon and who believing ‘possession to be nine points of the law,’ now refuse to resign quietly what they have held so long.. They appeared so determined and presented so bold a front that the carpenters furnished by the railroad company refused to begin the work of tearing down the house, which was to be the last resort provided the tenants declined to permit its being removed quietly. From the look of things it seemed at one time as if the officers of the law would have to retire to augment their forces, when a happy thought occurred to Mr. Spencer. After a short parley peace was proclaimed, the terms being the purchase by the contractor of a lot in the rear of the one on which the house stood, to which it would be moved by the railroad company. This concession settled the difficulty in this one instance, but it remains to be seen whether a like agreement will serve in the several cases still to be disposed of.”

On September 24, 1883 (Proceedings, 1883, p. 815) fees earned by Octave for his work for the Attorney’s Department amounted to $8.35. 1884 saw him continuing as Constable for the 11th Ward, as the newly elected Constable resigned before taking office. On December 8, 1883 (Proceedings, 1883, page. 1014), Philip Stutzman, Jr. wrote: “I hereby tender my resignation as Constable-elect of the 11th Ward of this city, and respectfully ask that the same be accepted. I would respectfully recommend that Octave Bruso be appointed to same. Respectfully, Philip Stutzman, Jr.”. Octave received 15 of 23 votes.

On January 7, 1884, at Buffalo’s City and County Hall, under the mayoralty of Jonathan Scoville, (Proceedings, 1884, p. 30) Octave was named as one of many Commissioners of Deeds for the year 1884. The Buffalo Express of Tuesday, January 8, 1884 reported on the meeting where Octave also gained appointment as Sgt. at Arms for the 1884 Council:

“The New Council: A Very Quiet Beginning of the Session of 1884. The first meeting of the common council for 1884 was held yesterday morning in the Council Chamber. It was as tame and mild as a circus lion with his teeth pulled, his claws trimmed, and his roar out of working order. There was no struggle in the organization, no oratory from the floor. Whereat the crowd of leisurely gentlemen who filled the room outside the rail appeared greatly disgusted; and the posse of six able-bodied policemen who were detailed for duty on the occasion had nothing to do but lean against the railing and watch the proceedings…” Later in 1884, (Proceedings, p. 1441) this appointment was amended to a two year term beginning January 1, 1885.

1884 was the year that Octave’s 18 year old son Clark Frank began his study of medicine at the University of Buffalo Medical School at Main and Virginia Streets. Another son, Octave Augustine, was then entering his teen years. The younger Octave would serve as President of the Council in 1911.

On January 5, 1885 (Proceedings, 1885, p. 24) Octave was named Sergeant at Arms for the Common Council. March 16, 1885 (Proceedings, p. 294) saw Octave paid for “serving subpoenas, etc., for Attorney’s Department” the amount of $13.65. On July 13, 1885 (Proceedings, 1885, p. 791) he received $32 for “services Attorney’s Department.”

In 1886, he was awarded another $29.15 on July 2 (Proceedings, 1886, p. 829) for Constable’s fees for the Attorney’s Department. On Dec. 6, 1886: (Proceedings, 1886, p. 1386) his constable’s fees for the law department totalled $16.20. On December 27, 1886 (Proceedings, 1886, p. 1472) Octave was re-appointed as a Commissioner of Deeds for two years beginning January 1, 1887, and ending December 31, 1889.

Around 1887, Octave moved from his longtime home at 1176 West Avenue to 545 Seventh, and the following year to Amherst Street, down the block from the Hanbachs.

February 28, 1887 (Proceedings, 1887, p. 227) saw him paid $7.40 for services to the Law Department. The following month, Clark Frank graduated with highest honors from Medical School. On April 18, 1887 (Proceedings, 1887, p. 439) Octave earned another $2.60 for services to the Law Department, and on May 16, 1887 (Proceedings, 1887, p. 582), Constable’s fees earned him another $29.65.

On December 24, 1888 (Proceedings, 1888, p. 1381) Octave gained another 2 year term as a Commissioner of Deeds for January 1,1889 through December 31, 1891.

Octave apparently had a taste for politics and extra income, as he was Sergeant at Arms for the Buffalo Common Council, earning two dollars per session in 1884 and 1885.

On February 11, 1889 (Proceedings, 1889, p. 114) Street’s Commissioner Henry Quinn nominated Octave and others “in accordance with the laws governing the civil service of this city, I have this day appointed the following persons to be street and health inspectors (several men, including Octave).” This was referred to Committee on Streets, and rejected on February 18, 1889 (Proceedings, 1889, p. 162).

In November 1889, Octave appeared at the County Clerk’s Office in Buffalo to make his veteran’s claim for an invalid pension. He is described as 52 years old, 5 feet 5 inches tall, with a fair complexion, and dark hair and grey eyes. He claimed partial disability from “laying in the wet and mud of Petersburg” during June, 1864, and as a result of typhoid fever. He stated that he was in no hospital for rheumatism, and “was later sick and went to hospital at Washington, DC for one night only.” He listed his address as 203 Amherst Street in Buffalo, NY, the address of his oldest son.

According to US Census Bureau statistics released in 1999, some 35% of Buffalo’s residents were foreign-born in 1890 (Buffalo News, March 12, 1999, p. 1). During 1890’s, Octave seems to have changed jobs and addresses frequently. There is no City Directory listing for him in 1891, 1892, or 1893. He may have been living with one of his sons, perhaps Frank. In 1894 he worked at the Buffalo Laundry Company, and lived at 64 Pooley Place with son Octave A. On January 29, 1894 (Proceedings, 1894, p. 201) Octave presented a claim for services as constable, which was referred to the Committee on Claims. On July 16, 1894 (Proceedings, 1894, p. 1245) his claim was rejected. Octave is not listed in City Directory in 1895. On December 24, 1894 Dr. C. Frank Bruso was appointed as a Commissioner of Deeds (Proceedings, 1894, p. 2084) and resigned soon thereafter, on January 21,1895 (Proceedings, 1895, p. 109).

In 1896 Octave was paid $10.00 for election expenses, and lived with his son Roscoe Grant Bruso, a fireman for the NYC and Hudson Railroad, at 280 DeWitt. In 1897 father and son moved to 315 Grant. Octave must have been proud when my grandfather John Clark Bruso was born to C. Frank Bruso and Katherine Hanbach about a year and a half before Octave’s death.

On Christmas Eve 1897, Octave died at 15 Greenwood Place in Buffalo of exhaustion, and atheroma of the respiratory tubes and blood vessels near heart; result of rheumatism, two tumors, one pressing on trachea, other on left bronchi. His physician son C. Frank Bruso was his medical attendant.

Octave’s obituary in the Buffalo Enquirer of December 24, 1897 reads: “Octave Bruso, who had been a resident of Buffalo for forty three years, died this morning at his late home, No. 15 Greenwood Place. Mr. Bruso was born October 18, 1837, and came to this city in 1854. At the breaking out of the Civil War he enlisted in the 1st Missouri Infantry (sic: 5th MO), with which he served for one year, afterwards being attached to the 50th New York Engineer Brigade. After his discharge from the army in 1865, Mr. Bruso was employed by S.O. Barnum and remained with the firm until 1880, when he was appointed Sealer of Weights and Measures, in which office he served until 1882. Mr. Bruso was a member of Washington Lodge, No. 240, F. & A.M. (Free and Accepted Masons)(see Buffalo News article 11/3/76, page. 36), and Union Veteran Legion, No. 97. He had always been a Republican in politics. His widow and five children, C. Frank, Mary H., Octave A., Roscoe G. and Ruth R. Bruso, survive him. The time of the funeral will be announced later.”

The Buffalo Times of December 24, 1897: “Octave Bruso is dead. He was a well known soldier and faithful public official. Octave Bruso, born October 18, 1837, died at his home, No. 15 Greenwood Place, at 1:50 o’clock this morning. Mr. Bruso came to Buffalo in 1854 and served through the entire Civil War. He was in the 1st Missouri Infantry and later occupied a place on the staff of officers in the 50th N.Y. Engineers. From 1865 to 1880 Mr. Bruso was employed by S.O. Barnum. He was sealer of weights and measures from 1880 to 1882. At one time he was Sergeant-at-Arms for the Board of Aldermen. Mr. Bruso was well known as a constable. He leaves a widow and five children: Dr. C. Frank, Mary H., Oscar A., Roscoe G., and Ruth R. Bruso.” The Morning Express of December 25, 1897 repeated this information.

He was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, originally in #3, section 13. According to cemetery records, his remains were moved January 20, 1919 to the multi-grave Bruso Family plot purchased by Frank.

Source:

  1. “1864 Diary of Private Octave Bruso, 50th NY Engineers, Company E” edited by Tom Bauerle, Buffalo, NY, 2010.

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