William L. Williams was born in 1832 in New York, the son of Nathan and Abigail (Yeomans).
In 1850 there was one William Williams, age 18, working as a farmer along with his father Nathan (b. 1799 in New York) and mother Sarah (b. 1804 in New York) and living with his siblings on a farm in New Hartford, Oneida County, New York. (In fact Nathan was living in New Hartford in 1830 and in 1840 as well as in 1860.)
William left New York and moved west, eventually settling in western Michigan by mid-1860. In fact, he was probably living in Grand Rapids when he joined the Grand Rapids Artillery, commanded by Captain Baker Borden, on July 16, 1860. (The GRA would serve as the nucleus for Company B, also commanded by Borden, of the Third Michigan infantry.)
William stood 5’8” with gray eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and was a 29-year-old carpenter possibly living in Kent County when he enlisted as Fourth Corporal in Company B on May 13, 1861. (William may have been related to Jessie Williams who also enlisted in Company B.) He was absent sick in the hospital in August of 1862, eventually returned to duty and was wounded in the left shoulder on December 13, 1862, at Fredericksburg, Virginia. He was first sent to a hospital in Washington and was probably in the hospital at Fort Schuyler, New York in January of 1863, and absent wounded from February of 1863 until he went home on furlough in August.
On Saturday, August 29, 1863, the Eagle reported that “The many friends in this city of William L. Williams, a gallant and true soldier who has been with the glorious Third from the date of its entering the service up to within a few days past, will rejoice to welcome him home again after so long a time past in the service of his country -- in the field and in the camp. Mr. W. will pass his short furlough with his family and friends, and then return to his Regiment again.” He remained absent wounded, probably in New York or perhaps in Michigan through February of 1864 when he was transferred to Company G, Tenth Regiment Veterans’ Reserve Corps on February 15, 1864 at Fort Schuyler; he also reportedly served in the Fourth Company, Second Battalion, VRC as well.
William was discharged from the VRC sometime in 1864 and returned to Kent County where he reentered the service as Sergeant in Company E, Thirtieth Michigan infantry on December 10, 1864, at Grand Rapids for 1 years, crediting Algoma, Kent County, and was mustered the same day. The regiment was organized in Detroit for 12 months’ service in the state and was mustered into service on January 9, 1865. It was engaged in frontier duty in Michigan along the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers. William was promoted to First Sergeant on May 10, 1865, and mustered out with the regiment at Detroit on June 30, 1865.
After the war William returned to his home in Kent County.
He married New York native Mrs. Sarah H. Sayers (1824-1903) on October 30, 1867, in Walker, Kent County, and they had at least one child: Hattie A. (b. 1868).
It is possible that he was the same “William L. Williams” who, in mid-January of 1871, “pled guilty to the charge of assault and battery, before Justice Putnam yesterday, and paid a fine of $7.00.”
In any case, William was living in Grand Rapids in 1874 and 1885, but by 1880 he was working as a farmer and living with his wife and daughter in Tallmadge, ottawa County. By 1888 he had moved to Berlin (Marne), Ottawa count, was back in Grand Rapids in 1893, in Berlin in 1895 and Grand Rapids in 1898, in Tallmadge, Ottawa County in 1900 and for many years worked as a carpenter. By 1910 he was possibly residing on RR no. 18, Grand Rapids Township, Kent County, and on RR no. 13 (?) in 1911.
He was admitted to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 3454) on September 18, 1900, was dropped from the Home on June 13, 1913, and reentered the home on January 7, 1915. William was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association and Grand Army of the Republic Champlin Post No. 29 in Grand Rapids, a Protestant.
In 1888 (?) he applied for and received pension no. 374,260.
William died a widower of nephritis at his home in Walker on Saturday, February 20, 1916, while absent from the Home without leave, and the funeral service was held at his residence at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday. He was buried in Greenwood cemetery: section C lot 28.