Ezra M. Guernsey was born around 1818 in Pawlet, Bennington County, Vermont, the son of Lewis F. (b. 1777) and Sarah (b. 1788).
Beginning in about 1805, Ezra’s family lived between Pawlet, Vermont, and Cambridge, Washington County, New York, until about 1825 when they moved to Jefferson County (probably Ellisburg), New York. By 1830 the family was living in Ira, Cayuga County, New York but back in Ellisburg in 1840, 1850 and 1855.
Ezra eventually moved westward, settling in western Michigan.
He was married to Polly Walker (1824-1857) probably in New York and they had at least four children: Charlotte (b. 1842 in New York), Elizabeth or Harriet (b. 1850 in Indiana), Georgiana (b. 1853), and George (b. 1855).
Ezra and his family left New York sometime after 1842 and had settled in Fairfield, DeKalb County, Indiana by 1850 where they lived until at least 1855. Ezra eventually moved north to Michigan and was living in Ionia, Ionia County in 1857 when his wife Polly died (she was buried in Highland Park Cemetery).
He was probably living in Ionia, Ionia County when he married his second wife Ohio native Philena Tuttle (1831-1911) on March 11, 1860, in Lyons, Ionia County. That same year Ezra (listed as “Edward was working as a farmer and living with Philena and his children in Ionia, Ionia County.
He stood 5’8” with blue eyes, gray hair and a dark complexion, and was a 41-year-old farmer probably living in Ionia County when he enlisted in Company E on May 13, 1861, along with Dennis Guernsey -- his nephew. (Company E was composed in large part by men from Clinton and Ingham counties, as well as parts of Ionia County.)
According to his nephew Dennis, in the summer of 1862 Ezra suffered from some
Very severe spells of cramping in his right side and during one of these paroxysms of pain complained that he felt something break in his right side and after this complained of a scrotal pain in his right side just below the ribs. Shortly after this at the retreat of our army after the Seven Day’s fight [Ezra] was still unable to travel with the company and was left on the field without any shelter during a heavy rain and took a severe cold as he got thoroughly wet in spite of all we could do. From this place he was sent in an ambulance to a hospital.
By June of 1862 Ezra was in fact sick in a hospital in Bottom’s Bridge, Virginia, suffering from “debility.” According to his nephew Dennis, “the next time I saw him he was in the West Philadelphia hospital some time in august or September and at this time he complained of a spinal difficulty and of the difficulty in his right side which troubled him when we was in front of Richmond.”
He remained absent sick in the hospital until he was discharged for hypertrophy of the heart on January 27, 1863, at West Philadelphia general hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
He listed Ionia, Ionia County as his mailing address on his discharge paper.
Ezra returned to Ionia County where he probably lived the rest of his life. In 1870 he was working as a farmer (he owned some $2500 worth of real estate) and living with his wife and two children in Ionia, Ionia County. He was working as a farmer and still living in Ionia with his wife in 1880, just several farms away from Dennis Guernsey and his family. In 1883 Ezra’s nephew, Marvin Guernsey (brother to Dennis, see above), was reported as guardian for Philena who was listed as “incompetent.” Marvin was married to the daughter of Ezra’s first wife. Ezra was still in Ionia, Ionia County in 1888, 1890 and 1894.
In 1880 Ezra was probably living in Ionia when he applied for and received a pension (no. 336911).
Ezra died of Bright’s Disease on September 27, 1899, at the home of his son near Lansing, Ingham County, and his remains were brought back to Ionia and interred in Highland Park cemetery.
In 1899 Philena applied for admission to the Women’s building of the Michigan Soldiers’ Home in Grand Rapids (no. 143) and according to subsequent reports in 1903 she was judged incompetent.
In December of 1899 there was a pension application approved on behalf of approved for at least one minor child (no. 487968).
Philena died in 1911, and was buried in lot 4-91, Highland Park cemetery, in Ionia. One “M. Guernsey later joined her” on June 20, 1913. “M” may in fact have been Marvin Guernsey, who had served in the 21st Michigan infantry and who was residing in Ionia’s 4th ward in 1890.