William Buck was born on January 5, 1838, in Onondaga, New York, the son of New York natives Orson (b. 1816) and Philisa Ann (b. 1820).
William’s family left New York sometime between 1842 and 1849, eventually settling in Barry County, Michigan. By 1850 William was attending school with his younger sister Sarah and living with his family on a farm in Maple Grove, Barry County.
He stood 6’2” with blue eyes, light hair and light complexion, and was a 23-year-old sawyer possibly living in the vicinity of Hastings, Barry County when he enlisted in the Hastings Rifle Company in April of 1861. The company was disbanded shortly after it arrived in Grand Rapids and its members dispersed to other companies of the 3rd Michigan infantry then forming at Cantonment Anderson just south of the city, and William eventually enlisted in Company K on May 13, 1861. During the opening phases of McClellan’s “Peninsular” campaign in the spring of 1862 he was left sick in the hospital at Yorktown, Virginia, and he was again reported hospitalized from July of 1862 through September.
According to Captain Almon Borden of Company K, Buck had “been totally unfit for duty” since April “by reason of a swelling on the lower part of the breast and is unable to carry his cartridge box or wear his belt.” Dr. James Grove, 3rd Michigan Regimental Surgeon certified that there was “an inflammatory tumor, probably malignant, of the lower part of the thorax involving the cartilages of the lower ribs -- right side.” Buck was discharged for a malignant tumor on December 4, 1862 at Falmouth, Virginia. The tumor was apparently not malignant, however, and although he recovered he reportedly suffered from an abscess in his side for years after the war.
After his discharge William eventually returned to Michigan.
He married English-born Sarah S. Stokes (1849-1919) in Maple Grove, Barry County, on December 30, 1863; they had at least three children: Edwin (1867-1869), Laura (b. 1871) and Egbert (1878-1955).
By 1870 William was working as a farmer and living with his wife in Maple Grove. However, by 1880 William had moved to Montcalm County where he was working as a farmer and living with his wife and two children in Evergreen. William was residing in Vickeryville, Montcalm County in 1883.
In 1863 William applied for and received a pension (no. 75,091), drawing $4.00 in 1883.
William died of chronic diarrhea or “spinal fever” on February 22, 1883, possibly at his home in Vickeryville. He was buried in Evergreen Township cemetery, Montcalm County (his son Egbert Sr. is also buried there). His son Edwin is buried in Barryville cemetery.)
Shortly after William’s death Sarah applied for and received a pension (no. 214113). She eventually remarried to William Webb.