Friday, April 16, 2010

George W. Prescott

George W. Prescott was born on September 20, 1836, in Monticello, Otsego County, New York, the son of Price Howard (b. 1804) and Rebecca (Thomas, b. 1804).

Both New York natives, George’s parents were probably married in New York sometime before 1835 and settled in Otsego County, New York. In 1840 Price was living in Exeter, Otsego County. In 1844 his family moved from New York and settled on a farm in section 36 in Grand Rapids. By 1850 George was living with his family on a large farm in Grand Rapids. By 1860 George was a farm laborer living with his family in Grand Rapids Township, where his father owned a substantial farm and his mother was listed in the census for that year as “insane.”

George stood 5’11” with hazel eyes, black hair and a dark complexion and was 24 years old and probably still living in the Grand Rapids area when he enlisted in Company A on May 13, 1861. He was absent sick from October 11, 1862, through March of 1863. According to a Dr. Dorr at Ascension general hospital in Washington, DC, “Prescott was attacked with rheumatism on or about the 3rd day of October 1862, at camp on Upton’s Hill, Va., and has not done duty since that date.” He was discharged for chronic rheumatism on March 11, 1863, at Ascension hospital.

(There was one George W. Prescott who enlisted in Battery L, First Michigan Light Artillery at Fenton, Genessee County, in 1864 and was mustered out on August 22, 1865.)

After his discharge from the army George returned to Grand Rapids and began farming on 80 acres in Paris Township, Kent County, where he specialized in seed growing. “In the culture of the latter,” wrote Chapman in his History of Kent County, “Mr. Prescott exercises the utmost care, and in every case warrants his seeds true to name.”

He was living in Paris, Kent County in 1867 when he married Michigan native Agnes Powley (1846-1884) on November 27, 1867, in Paris (she was the sister to John Powley who had served in Company K), and they had at least four children: Jane (b. 1868), Ada C. (b. 1869), Jennie A. (1872-1883) and Byron J. (1874-1875).

George was working as a farmer and living with his wife and child Jane in Paris Township in 1870, and in 1880 he was still working a farm and living with Agnes and two daughters in Paris. Indeed he lived in Paris for more than thirty years.

In late December of 1881 Agnes “filed a bill of complaint in the circuit court Saturday praying for a divorce from George W. Prescott whom she married in November of 1867. She charges him with extreme and long-continued cruelty, and prays for the custody of the children Ada C. aged 12 and Jennie A. aged 9. The requested preliminary injunction was granted.” However, Jennie died in early March of 1883 and Agnes herself died the following year.

Prescott soon developed something of a reputation for eccentricity.

The year after Agnes died, the Grand Rapids Democrat reported that Prescott had acquired the title of the “Michigan Crank.” Apparently he was “visiting the bog show at New Orleans and is seeing all there is to be seen. He was very much interested in examining old war relics a few days ago and accidentally discharged a mitrailleuse, the ball passing through the post office. He was arrested and on trial pleaded his own case and was set free. He explained that ‘he didn't know the darned thing was loaded’. He has secured the title, ‘The Michigan Crank’.”

George was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association and Grand Army of the Republic Custer post no. 5 in Grand Rapids, until he was suspended November 26, 1908. In 1863 he applied for and received a pension (no. 19338).

He apparently remarried to one Anna.

He died of bronchio-pneumonia in Cascade Township on September 24, 1910, and was buried in Martin cemetery: W6-A.

In 1914 (?) his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 839880).

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