William Clark was born on December 29, 1839, in South Lyon, Oakland County, Michigan, the son of New York natives John B. Clark (b. 1808) and Lucinda Hickox (1814-1892).
His parents settled in Michigan by 1832 (possibly Wayne County), and had settled in Michigan (probably Wayne County). John B. may have been living in Vernon, Shiawassee County in 1840. By 1850 William was living with his family in Dewitt, Clinton County (so was his older brother Edgar who would also join the Old Third).
William was probably living in Clinton County and stood 5’11” with hazel eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, and was a 22-year-old farmer when he enlisted in Company G on May 10, 1861. (Edgar would enlist in Company G in 1862; and they may have been related to Charles Clark who like Edgar was from Lansing and who also enlisted in Company G. Moreover, Company G, formerly the “Williams’ Rifles,” was made up predominantly of men from the Lansing area.)
William was wounded slightly in the shoulder on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia, and by late June he was at home in DeWitt, Clinton County, recovering from his wound. He soon recovered his health and on August 11 William arrived in Detroit Barracks, the transit depot for soldiers returning to and from their Regiments, and on Friday, August 15, left Michigan to rejoin the 3rd Michigan. He was promoted to Corporal on September 1, 1862, and according to Edgar Clark of Company G, William “honestly” deserved the post. “His pay is no more than it was before but it relieves him of a great many little duties which a private is subject to, such as standing guard.” For much of his time in service William and Edgar shared not only the same tent but the same bed as well, a common use of limited sleeping space in the nineteenth century,. Apparently William and Edgar got their pictures taken on April 22, 1863.
On Sunday October 11, noted Edgar Clark, William “was splitting some kindling wood off a rail, when the hatchet made a glance and cut his big toe bad. So they sent him to Washington to a hospital.” On October 24 Edgar reported home that William was in Stanton hospital in Washington and his foot was not doing well. William eventually recovered, rejoined the regiment and reenlisted on December 23, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia.
William returned home to Michigan on veteran’s furlough during January of 1864 and rejoined the regiment on or about the first of February. It is quite possible that while he was home on furlough William married Michigan or Pennsylvania native Mary Francis Reynolds (1843-1883) they had at least one child, a daughter Gertrude Estelle (b. 1876).
Shortly after William returned to the regiment, on March 5, 1864, Edgar wrote to his own wife, Catharine, “William got a letter from his dear wife last night. She feels quite bad for she says Alice Collins has reported a story that he slept with three girls one night and she does not like it much. I would not either if I was in her place. I think myself there must be some mistake for I do not think he would cut up such a caper as that so near home, much less to tell Alice of it. I do not know what is the matter with him nor do I care much. He knows that I do not like his Mary nor never did see how he can but you know love will go where it is sent, and you know somebody must like her and he may as well be the victim.”
William was transferred as a Sergeant to Company F, 5th Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the 3rd and 5th Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864. During the movement through the North Anna area by the Army of the Potomac in late May of 1864, William reportedly shot and killed a rebel, possible his first kill. On May 26, Edgar Clark wrote home to his wife that “William wanted I should tell you he killed a rebel yesterday. He has got a sharp [Sharp’s?] target rifle which will kill a man as far as you can see. He went out on a skirmish line and got a good aim at one and after he shot he saw four men carrying a man off.” William was promoted to First Sergeant on November 2, 1864, and mustered out of service on July 5, 1865 at Jeffersonville, Indiana.
It is unknown if William returned to Michigan, although he have been living in Lansing in 1876 when his daughter was born. It’s possible that William and Mary separated sometime after Gertrude was born. By 1880 Mary and their daughter Gertrude were living with Mary’s family in Dewitt, Clinton County; the family included Mary’s brothers Nelson and Foster, her sister Hannah and their mother Tizah. Gertrude eventually went to live with her father in California after her mother died.
William eventually moved to California where he married his second wife, California native Ida Alice Maloon (1855-1932) in 1883; and they adopted a baby girl named Irma Viola (1892-1920).
By 1900 William was working as a contractor and living with his family in Oakland’s 3rd Ward, Alameda County, California; also living with them was his daughter Gertrude and 57-year-old Benjamin Maloon, Mary’s father. William was still in Oakland’s 3rd Ward, in 1910, working as a railroad employee, and living on Linden Street with his wife Ida, daughter Irma and father-in-law Benjamin was also still residing with them.
In 1871 William applied for and received a pension (no. 118522).
William died on June 16, 1918, in Oakland, California, and was buried on June 19 in Mountain View cemetery in Oakland: sec. 45, grave 136.
In July of 1918 Ida applied for and received a pension (no. 864551). By 1920 Ida was listed as the head of the household and living on Linden Street in Oakland; also living with her was her daughter Irma and her husband C. B. Stevens. Living in the same house was Gertrude Rirth (b. 1876 in Michigan) and her son Rennolds as well as another woman named Gertrude (b. c. 1877), possibly William’s daughter and her 11-year-old son Rennold (b. 1909) By 1930 Ida was living alone on Berkley Way in Berkeley, California..