George S. Woodruff was born in 1841 in Michigan, the son of Joseph P. (b. 1815) and Harriet (Robinson, b. 1821 in New York).
Joseph and his wife eventually settled in Michigan sometime before 1839 (when their daughter Elizabeth was born) and by 1850 George was living with his family and his father was working as a a laborer in Ada, Kent County. By 1860 George was working as a farm laborer for the William Robinson family in Vergennes, Kent County. (Next door lived William Corlis who would also enlist in Company A, Third Michigan, in February of 1862.)
George stood 5’10” with gray eyes, black hair and a light complexion and was a 24-year-old farm laborer possibly living in Vergennes when he enlisted in Company A on February 12, 1862, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, and was mustered on February 24. He was wounded by a gunshot to the left chest and lung on July 2, 1863, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and subsequently hospitalized in Turner’s Lane hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from late July of 1863 through April of 1864. George may have returned to duty by the time he was transferred to Company A, Fifth Michigan infantry, upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864. In any case he was probably present for duty when he was discharged on February 24, 1865, at the expiration of his term of service, near Petersburg, Virginia.
After his discharge from the army George returned to Kent County. He was living in Detroit in 1890 and in Detroit’s Fourth ward in 1894.
He was admitted to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 4200) as a widower on January 5, 1904, and was “dishonorably” discharged on March 16. Sometime in mid-1904 moved into the Hermitage Hotel annex, on South Division Street in Grand Rapids.
In 1875 he applied for and received pension no. 137,269, drawing $12.00 in 1904.
George apparently remarried to a woman named Julia.
Early in the morning of December 23, 1904, George, who was “one of the well-known characters of the local downtown streets,” reportedly suffered an acute attack of delirium tremens in his room at the Hermitage and, according to the Press, “was removed to the County jail for safe keeping, did not rally under the treatment at the jail, and last night at 10 o’clock was found dead in his cell.” He “was given,” wrote the paper, “every attention during his ravings, but later in the evening he became quieter. Deputy Sheriff Pettis went to the cell at 10 o’clock before returning and found the old fellow dead.”
Officially George was reported as having died of “organic heart disease,” and his funeral services were held at Metcalf & Gibson’s chapel. Although not a member of the Home, he was nevertheless buried in the Home cemetery: section 4 row 17 grave no. 17.
His widow was living in Brooklyn, New York in 1905 when she applied for and received a pension (no. 605319).