John West was born around 1821 in Bethany, New York.
John was married to New York native Susan E. Robins (b. 1821) on January 11, 1844, in Carlton, Orleans County, New York, and had at least five children: Charles Henry (b. 1845), Eugene Gillman (b. 1846), Harriet Imogen (b. 1849), Daniel Dwight (b. 1851) and Mary Sophia (b. 1854).
By 1850 John was working as a laborer and living with his wife and children in Carlton, Orleans County, New York. Sometime between 1851 and 1855 John moved his family to Michigan, and by 1860 John was working as a farm laborer, unable to read or write and living with is wife and four children (including his oldest son Charles who would also join the 3rd Michigan) in Boston, Ionia County.
John was a 40-year-old farm laborer unable to read or write probably living in Boston, Ionia County when he enlisted in Company D, along with his son Charles, on November 14, 1861, at Grand Rapids for 3 years and was mustered on December 23 at Detroit. (Company D was composed in large part of men who came from western Ionia County and Eaton County.)
John was a regimental pioneer in December of 1862.
He died of disease on March 10, 1863, at Camp Pitcher, Virginia, near Falmouth, Virginia, and was presumably buried there.
In 1863 Susan was living in Boston, Ionia County, when she applied for and received a pension (no. 13117). In 1864 Susan remarried James Sanders (b. 1828) and in 1870 they were living in Boston, Ionia County; also living with them was her son Dwight and daughter Mary.