William H. Wood was born in 1844 in Grattan, Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan, the son of Emmons 9b. 1807) and Martha (b. 1809).
New Hampshire native Emmons married New York native Martha and they eventually settled in Ohio where they were living in 1831. By 1840 Emmons was living in Marengo, Calhoun County, Michigan and by 1850 William was attending school and living with his family in Grattan, Kent County where his father worked a farm. By 1860 William was working as a farm laborer and living with his parents in Grattan, Kent County.
William stood 5’8” with hazel eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and was an 18-year-old farmer probably living in Allegan County when he enlisted in Company H on March 22, 1862, crediting Grand Rapids’ Fourth Ward. He was reported absent sick in June of 1863, and as a guard at Brandy Station, Virginia in February of 1864. He reenlisted on March 30, 1864, in the field, and was mustered the same day near Culpeper, Virginia, was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough in April and probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of May.
William was taken prisoner on May 12, 1864, at Spotsylvania, Virginia, and transferred as a prisoner-of-war to Company A, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864.
According to George Bailey of Company F, who had been taken prisoner on May 6 at the Wilderness and subsequently sent to Andersonville, Wood arrived in Andersonville, along with six other members of the Third Michigan infantry on July 9. By the first of October Wood, along with hundreds of other prisoners, had been transferred to the prison at Florence, South Carolina. On October 17 Bailey, is a reliable source and who had also been transferred to Florence, wrote in his diary that Wood took the oath of allegiance to the Confederacy, along with hundreds of other prisoners. “I for one,” wrote Bailey, “cannot blame” those soldiers who did take the oath. George added that he hoped to “stand it until after the [November presidential] election.”
William remained a prisoner until he escaped on March 6, 1865, near Petersburg, Virginia, and was mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.
After the war William eventually returned to Michigan where he worked as a laborer for some years.
Loren Ferdnand of Grand Rapids, first met William, or “Henry” as he called him, at the home of some of Loren’s relatives in the fall of 1865 where William was boarding at the time. Loren also reported that William boarded with some of his own relatives “and stayed with me at my brothers several days at a time” in early 1866. In 1867 Loren say him whenhe came back to Grand Rapids to be married. “He was complaining the same as before.” He reported that he had heard William had “attended school but had done no other work.”
Loren did not see him again until November of 1869.
He was then, and had been for some time engaged in sawing wood for Mr. Sawyer [Loren’s father-in-law]. He, Sawyer, made this remark to me, “That Henry Wood is a poor stick at sawing wood; he saws one hour and stops 2 and grunts all the time.” I have seen the Soldier an average,I should judge, once a month since 1869, and have changed my mind as to his being lazy. During the winter of 1871, he taught out District School and gave entire satisfaction. He boarded with me, and often remarked that if he had health he could make money. . . . In 1872 he begged of me to let him come and do chores for his board through the winter. His complaining was the same, but he did his work thoroughly and faithfully. In 1873 he went to Mason County, Mich., and taught a District School and gave good satisfaction. In 1874 he refused saying that school teaching had been such a strain on his neverse on account of constant work that he dared not try it again.
Since 1874 I have hired him many different times, a few days at a time. He has harvested, mowed, chopped wood, plowed, husked corn, dug potatoes, etc., but he never did anything like a fair days work at anything except husking corn. In 1884 he husked corn for me and did as much as any one else when he worked, but during four weeks that he worked he was laid up with lame back two or three times form one to two days each time. I have nevr cared to hire him to do farm laborer because he only accomplished about half as much as other men, and was able to work only half or two-thirds of the time.
The last work he did for me was in 1896, digging fence post holes. He averaged 15 holes, 2 1/2 feet deep, per day in sandy soil, where from 40 to 60 holes would be a reasonable days’ work. And yet he complained bitterly of hard work, lame back and heumatism, and his movements showed that he was very stiff and lame. He worked 4 days and quit; said the work was too hard. He then got a job to nurse a sick man and gave good satisfaction. And he is now giving good satisfaction at estimating lumber. It is hard for him to get light work because his disability prevents his being steady, and as a laborer he is now and has been since 1865 almost worthless in my opinion, judging from observations taken during all these years.
William was working as a laborer when he married Ohio native Celia Adelaide Wicker (b. 1849) on October 9, 1878, in Grand Rapids, Kent County, and they had at least three children: Edna (b. 1879), Edith (b. 1881) and Arthur (b. 1889).
He moved westward and eventually settled in Portland, Oregon where for many years he was employed as a land broker and estimator, working for many large lumbering concerns in Oregon, traveling throughout most of the western United States from the Gulf of Mexico to Oregon.
In 1902 William became a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association. In 1889 he applied for and received a pension (no.796644).
William died of hemorrhage of the lungs on May 16, 1906, possibly at Scott’s Hotel in Portland and was presumably buried in Portland.
In June of 1906 his widow was residing at 442 Cass Avenue in Grand Rapids, Kent County, when she applied for and received a pension (no. 619027).