William Zilky or Zuhlke, was born January 20, 1847 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Johann Daniel Zühlke (1803-1882) and Anna Regina Otterstein (b. 1807).
Johann and Anna immigrated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin from Gollnow, Pommern, Prussia, in August of 1843. By 1850 William was living with his family in Milwaukee’s 2nd Ward.
William left Wisconsin and moved to Michigan.
He stood 5’3” with blue eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion and was a 17-year-old laborer possibly living in Spring Lake, Ottawa County when he enlisted in Company C on December 30, 1863, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, crediting Spring Lake, and was mustered the same day.
William joined the Regiment on February 18, 1864, at Camp Bullock, Virginia, and was treated for a headache from March 9 to 11.
He returned to duty and was transferred to Company I, 5th Michigan Infantry upon consolidation of the 3rd and 5th Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864. William was sick with fever on June 29, 1864, and from July 2 to August 18, and was reported in a hospital in Washington, DC, in late July suffering from diarrhea. He may have been returned to duty but was hospitalized for dysentery on November 6. William was mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.
After the war William returned to Michigan, probably settling in Muskegon, Muskegon County, where he worked as a farmer for many years. He was living in Muskegon in 1887 and 1890, and 1896.
William reportedly married French-born Cordelia Chaltant (b. 1866) on January 31, 1890, in Laketown Township, Muskegon County.
Cordelia was apparently residing in Cahoon, New York, when he was admitted to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 3308) on December 27, 1899, in Grand Rapids. He was listed both at the Home in 1900 and living in North Muskegon with Cordelia; he was also living in the Home in 1910, listed as a widower. William was discharged at his own request on May 4, 1912, and by November was living in North Muskegon.
In 1896 William applied for and received pension no. 935,101, drawing $8.00 in 1899, increased to $12.00 per month in 1902, $16.50 in 1912, $21.50 in 1917 and to $27 by 1922. He was a member of the Old 3rd Michigan Infantry Association and a Protestant.
William was residing in North Muskegon when he died of heart disease at Hackley Hospital in Muskegon, on February 9, 1920. He was reportedly buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Muskegon although this cannot be confirmed.