Tuesday, September 02, 2008

William P. H. Ferris

William P. H. Ferris was born in either 1813 or in March of 1822, in Essex County, New York.

William married Connecticut native Maria (Pennell?, 1811-1888), and they had at least four children: George (b. 1832), Mary (b. 1833), Marcia (b. 1844) and Allen Frank (b. 1857).

William may have been living in Franklin, Knox County, Ohio in 1830. In any case, the family was living in Ohio in 1832 and 1833 and moved to Michigan sometime before 1844. By 1850 William was working as a mason and living with his wife and three children in Plymouth, Wayne County. He eventually moved his family to the western side of the state and by 1858 William was living in Grand Rapids when he joined the Valley City Guard, a local militia company which would serve as the nucleus for Company A, Third Michigan infantry in 1861; in fact, he would remain a member of the VCG until the outbreak of war.

By 1859-60 William was working as a mason living on the west side of Ransom Street between Lyon and Fountain Streets in Grand Rapids, and in 1860 he was reportedly working as a mason and living with his wife and one child in Grand Rapids Third Ward.

William stood 5’8” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and was 38 years old and probably living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted as Fifth Sergeant in Company A on May 13, 1861. He was discharged on December 16, 1861, at Fort Lyon, Virginia for a "prolapsed anus produced by the fatigue occasioned by the march to and from Bull Run” between July 18 and 21, 1861, and which “made its appearance immediately after that event.” He promptly applied for and received a pension (no 12320).

After his discharge William returned to Grand Rapids, ran for election as Third Ward constable defeating Josiah Cook for that office in April of 1863.

Soon after becoming ward constable, noted a local newspaper, “One of the soldiers from Camp Lee,” the draft depot in Grand Rapids, “got ‘salubrious’, from the too free use of liquid “overjoyful” yesterday, and thereupon believing himself a skirmishing party -- in fine, opened with his “maulers” on the enemy, whereupon officers Parkman and Ferris put a period to the contest, by arresting and lodging in jail the belligerent or offensive party. The result caused quite a gathering of the ‘peops’ and brass buttoned gentry at the foot of Monroe Street, last evening, to discuss the merits and demerits of the parties personally interested. All passed off quietly, however, and the young man is doubtless all right again today.”

And four days later the Grand Rapids Eagle reported that one “John Hogan, a deserter from the Fourteenth Regiment Michigan infantry, was arrested by officer Ferris, in this city yesterday, and lodged in jail, charged with deserting from the U.S. army.”

William served as constable for the Third Ward from 1865 through 1869, and was also a deputy sheriff from 1868 to 1869, during which time he resided at 46 Ransom Street. He was still living on Ransom Street in 1870, working as a constable, living with his wife; also living with them was 13-year-old Frank Allen.

William was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association.

He died of apoplexy just after noon on June 25, 1873, and the funeral was held at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday at the home of his son-in-law A. H. Kimball, 32 Livingston Street. The location of William’s grave is presently unknown; it does not appear that he was buried in Kent County. The Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War graves database report him as buried in Riverside cemetery in Hastings, Barry County, but that cannot be confirmed either.

By 1880 his widow was apparently living with her daughter, Mrs. Mary Pennell Moon and son-in-law, Frederick Shriver and their family in Grand Rapids (Mary was Fred’s second wife). Shriver had also served in the Old Third during the war.

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