William (4) Woodhurst

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Brief biography

William (4) Woodhurst was christened on November 28th 1824 at Strood (near Rochester) to parents William (3) Woodhurst and his first wife Mary [IGI: Batch C131322]. A descendant reports that he was born on October 23rd 1824. Strood is very close to Chatham where his parents were married. It is also barely a mile from Frindsbury where his second cousin Richard William (1) Woodhurst was born in 1816.

His future wife was Ann Page. She was born in Faversham and was probably the child christened there on February 21st 1828 to parents John Page and Jane [IGI: Batch I007851]. It is probable that Jane died during Ann's childhood and that John then took a new wife or partner Elizabeth about ten years older than him. The 1841 Census finds Ann at age "14" living with John and Elizabeth in Tanner Street, Faversham. John may have been related to Henry Ambrose Page, the cooper in Faversham to whom William (4)'s brother John (2) became apprenticed in 1856.

William (4) married Ann at Faversham Parish Church on May 23rd 1847. The marriage certificate [Marriage Index: Faversham 5 258, 1847 (June)] describes him as a bachelor of full age and occupied as a brick-maker, like his father, and her as a spinster and minor whose father John was a bricklayer. Both gave their address as Ospringe Road, where William (3) was living at the time of the 1851 Census. The witnesses were William (4)'s sister Frances (1) and his cousin William "Lawrence", the son of William (3)'s married sister Mary Ann (5).

In late 1847 William (4) and Ann were living in Faversham when their first child William (5) was born.

In 1849 they were living in Tanner Street, Faversham when their daughter Emma Jane was born. William (4) was still occupied as a brick-maker.

In January 1851 they produced a son George (2) who died before April.

The 1851 Census finds the family living at East End in Sittingbourne, where William (4) was again occupied as a brick-maker. Meanwhile Ann's father John - still a bricklayer - and partner Elizabeth were living in Tanner Street, Faversham.

In 1852 their third son John James was born in Milton near Sittingbourne.

By 1855 William (4) had emigrated to America. He probably went first to Ohio, since his first American-born son George William (3) was born there at about that time [US Census 1860]. Ohio would have been a logical place for him to go first, as his uncle John (6) Woodhurst had been living there since the 1840s. His siblings Stephen and Mercy (1) probably voyaged out with him. Mercy (1) married in Ohio in February 1857. It appears that their brother John (2) did not follow them to America until a few years later.

Whenever William (4) did emigrate, it was not with his wife and children. They journeyed separately aboard the Ocean Queen, arriving at New York on November 14th 1855. The ship's manifest lists them as Ann aged "26", William aged "6", Emma aged "4" and John aged "2".

The US 1860 Census finds William (4) living at South Fork township in Jackson Co., Iowa, occupied as a farmer. With him were his wife Ann, their surviving children from England and their child George William (3). His brother Stephen, still single, was also living with them and was likewise occupied as a farmer.

By 1862 both William (4) and Stephen had joined the Union Army to take part in the Civil War. The Civil War Enlistments database records William (4)'s enlistment on behalf of Iowa, giving the date as August 11th 1862 and his age as 35 - though he was actually then nearer 37. His muster-roll records held in the American National Archives [NA] confirm these details and state that he was recruited at Davenport, Iowa for three years' service into the "L" Company of the 2nd Iowa Cavalry. He was ranked as a private. He is described as having had blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion, being of height 5 feet 6 inches. Prior to recruitment he had been occupied as a farmer.

By mid-November 1862 his Company was camped near Grand Junction in Tennessee, and by early February 1863 was at La Grange in that State. It was at this time that he was injured while riding his horse to water - the horse stumbled and fell dead, falling upon him as it went down. He incurred a rupture (inguinal hernia) on his right side. This accident effectively marked the end of his active military service, just a few months after his enlistment. He was admitted first to the No. 1 General Hospital at La Grange, and later to the No. 2 Hospital in May 1863 where he remained until early February 1864, at which time he was moved to the Washington General Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. There he was employed intermittently as a nurse during those periods when he was not himself being treated as a sick patient. Various records state that he was mustered out at Memphis on June 6th 1865, and that he claimed his residence to be La Motte (whose location is unknown, but probably in Iowa).

A muster-out roll for the Company at Selma, Alabama dated September 19th 1865 and headed "William Woodhurst" states that he had been mustered out on June 13th 1865 "by reason of expiration of service". But this is clearly a clerical error - this record actually pertains to Stephen, so at some point someone in the Company had confused the two brothers.

After leaving the service he returned to Iowa and took up residence in Maquoketa, working as a baker.

The next known record relating to him is dated September 23rd 1868, being the first of many held by the NA pertaining to his pension claims. On that date he appeared before a Judge of the Jackson County Court in Iowa to institute his claim for an invalid pension for his disability arising from the hernia. The image at the foot of this page shows the index card of the Civil War Pension application filed on his behalf on December 7th 1868. The various proceedings relating to his claim seem to have continued for many months, but by July 19th 1869 he was in receipt of a pension of $6 per month, apparently backdated to June 7th 1865, under Certificate No. 99066. He had been deemed three-quarters disabled as the result of pain, nausea and fainting caused by the hernia having descended into his scrotum and pressing on the testis.

The US 1870 Census, recorded in August of that year, appears to finds William (4) living with Stephen at Silver Creek and Trinity township in Lewis and Clark Co., Montana, both occupied as gulch miners. There is a little uncertainty here, because the names cited are "Wm. Stevens" and "Woodhurst Stevens". The records state that both were born in England and that their parents were of foreign birth. Their ages were cited as 45 and 36, respectively. William (4) was indeed 45 at that time, and Stephen was actually 37. It seems probable that they or the enumerator somehow confused the rendition of their names.

By late 1873 William (4) appears, from his pension records, to have moved to Helena in Lewis and Clark Co.

His monthly pension remained at $6 until May 1874, when it was reduced to $4. By now his hernia was described as reducible and uncomplicated, requiring only the use of a simple truss. However, in November 1877 he applied for an increase on the grounds that his disability had by then worsened, and appointed an attorney William Conrad to prosecute the claim. Soon afterwards, however, his life came to an end. On the morning of January 22nd 1878 his body was found on the ice near a bridge over the Sun River at Fort Shaw, Montana. It was surmised that during the night, on the way back to his lodgings, he had fallen from the bridge in the darkness. Fort Shaw still exists today in Cascade Co., Montana, about 20 miles west of Great Falls. From this village, a road called "Old Fort Shaw Road" leads west to a point lying about half a mile from the present-day course of the Sun River. The above account of his death is consistent with a record found in a listing of Woodhurst graves in Cascade Co., Montana, which states that he was buried in an unmarked grave near the Sun River. His death was reported on January 25th in the Daily Herald which stated that his skull had been fractured.

The bureaucracy relating to his pension increase claim and the verification of his death continued until October 1878, at which date the claim was formally rejected.

It is not known what happened to his wife Ann, nor whether they had produced any more children. A memorandum dated January 1878 in the Pension Office mentions that the attorney had been informed of the reported death and that the claim was to be retained "subject to the call of the widow, children or legal representatives of late pensioner", but this may have been only a standard provision bearing no implication that there was indeed a surviving widow.

His children by Ann Page

  1. William (5) Woodhurst
  2. Emma Jane Woodhurst
  3. George (2) Woodhurst
  4. John James Woodhurst
  5. male (2) Woodhurst - [Birth Index: Milton 2a 549, 1854 (March)]
  6. George William (3) Woodhurst
  7. and possibly others ...

The unnamed child male (2) Woodhurst died in infancy [Death Index: Milton 2a 359, 1854 (March)].

Pension Application Card