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Manuscript Group 525
JOHN BLEY PAPERS
1856-1871
(0.5 cu. ft.)


This collection of Civil War era bounty fund related papers was created by John Bley, Treasurer of the Nineteenth Ward Bounty Fund of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Bley's main occupation was as a retail dealer at Frankford Road and York Street in Philadelphia, during the war. Unlike the better known city-wide Citizen's Bounty Fund of Philadelphia, the Bley papers document a ward-based bounty fund. The collection demonstrates how municipalities, eager to avoid the draft, organized, raised and administered funds on a local level in order to encourage enrollments into the military that would be credited to their area.  By encouraging enlistments, and meeting their quota of enlistees, municipalities were able to be spared from the draft.

The collection contains approximately 395 individual documents including two of Bley's ledger books that list many items, besides the actual bounty payments, for which a Civil War bounty officer spent money, including newspaper advertising, posters, music, food, and the setting up of stages. Other items include certificates of muster, bounty fund records, requests for payment, receipts for advertising in newspapers and for music, receipts for payments for procuring recruits and enlistments including those made to recruiting agents, and substitute association records. In late 1865 the Nineteenth Ward Bounty Fund began engaging in relief committee work. Many of the items in the collection list names of male residents from Philadelphia.



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