Herbert Stevens Taft was born on July 27, 1840, in Sheffield or Kingsville (?), Ashtabula County, Ohio, the son of Matthew D. (1810-1891) and Susan (Stevens, b. 1813).
New York natives Matthew and Susan were married around 1835, possibly in New York and by 1837 had settled in Ohio where they lived for some years. By 1850 Matthew and his family were living in Sheffield, Ashtabula County, Ohio, where Herbert attended school with his siblings. Sometime between 1848 and 1849 the family moved to Michigan, and by 1860 Herbert was a student living with his family in Lyons, Ionia County, where his father owned a substantial farm.
Herbert stood 5’8” with black eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and was 20 years old and probably still living in Ionia County when he enlisted as Second Corporal in Company E on May 13, 1861. He was absent sick from November of 1862 until he was discharged as a Sergeant for chronic diarrhea on January 21, 1863, at Stewart’s Mansion hospital, Baltimore, Maryland.
After he was discharged from the army Herbert returned to Michigan.
He married New York native Alice E. Hamilton (b. 1845), on April 4, 1864, in Watertown, Jefferson County, New York, and they had at least three children: Harry (b. 1865), Carleton (b. 1868) and Bertha (b. 1879).
By 1870 Herbert was working as “Keeper of the Poor House” (he owned $14,000 worth of real estate and $2,400 worth of personal property) and living with his wife and two sons in Eastmanville, Polkton Township, Ottawa County. (His parents were still living in Lyons, Ionia County in 1870.) Herbert and his family were living in Allendale, Ottawa County in 1879 and he was farming in Allendale in 1880 but sometime in the 1880s Herbert was back in Eastmanville, Ottawa County.
He and his wife eventually moved out west and by by 1890 he was living in Livingston, Park County, Montana. By 1896 they were living in Helena, Montana where for many years Herbert worked as a minister.
In 1875 he applied for and received a pension (no. 178027).
Herbert died on September 1, 1899 at the Soldiers’ Home in Columbia Falls, Montana, and was reportedly buried in the Home cemetery in Columbia Falls.
Shortly after Herbert died Alice, who was still living in Montana, applied for and received a pension (no. 512159).