John (2) Woodhurst

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Brief biography

John (2) Woodhurst was born in 1842 in Buckland, a few miles north-west of Dover, to parents William (3) Woodhurst and his first wife Mary [Birth Index: Dover 5 102, 1842 (Sept)]. A descendant reports that he was born (or christened) on September 12th 1842.

The 1861 Census finds him boarding at the Plantation in Faversham in a household headed by an oyster dredger named Frederick Arnold. He was aged "18" and occupied as a cooper (barrel-maker), possibly in the local gunpowder mills. He had begun this trade as an apprentice when he was aged about 14, as evidenced by this record [Faversham Apprentices' Register (Fa / RA14), Centre for Kentish Studies, Maidstone]:

John Woodhurst, son of William Woodhurst, Faversham, Contractor,
[apprenticed] to Mr. Henry Ambrose Page, Faversham, Cooper, for 7 years. Indenture dated 12 Aug 1856.

The person to whom he was apprenticed was probably the "Henry Page" living in Preston Street, Faversham at the time of the 1841 Census, aged about 25 and occupied as a cooper.

Later in 1861 he evidently followed his brothers William (4) and Stephen to America. He enlisted at New York for the Civil War as a private in the Union Army on November 27th 1861. The record in the Civil War Enlistments cites his age then as 20, but one of his record cards in the American National Archives gives his age at that time accurately as 18 and states that he had enrolled for three years and was assigned to 'C' Company of the 99th New York Infantry. He was just over 5 feet 4 inches in height with light brown hair, hazel eyes and light complexion; his occupation on enlistment was recorded as cooper. By December 1st 1861 he was at Camp Hamilton. The records go on to state that he deserted on June 11th 1862 at Camp Grebel, Lamberts Point in Virginia.

Anecdotal evidence from descendants in America of his brother Daniel suggest that he may have been taken prisoner during the Civil War and have died at the notorious Libby Prison in Virginia. Curiously, there exists a record of a John A. Woodhurst who enlisted as a private with 'K' Company in the 138th Pennsylvania Infantry on September 29th 1862, and who was mustered out - still as a private - on June 23rd 1865. It is possible that this was John (2) with an informally-adopted middle name, and that he had re-enlisted with this regiment. In any event, he has not been found in any of the US Censuses and nothing more is currently known of him.