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Pinney, William Washburn


Age: 0, credited to Middlebury, VT
Unit(s): 39th WI INF
Service: enl 5/17/64, m/i, Pvt, Co. C, 39th WI INF, 5/17/64, m/o 9/22/64, Milwaukee, WI

See Legend for expansion of abbreviations


Birth: About 1819, Middlebury, VT
Death: 05/13/1899

Burial: Munger Street Cemetery, New Haven, VT
Marker/Plot: Not recorded
Gravestone researcher/photographer: Alan Lathrop
Findagrave Memorial #: 22034397


Alias?: None Noted
Pension?: Unknown
Portrait?: Unknown
College?: Not Found
Veterans Home?: Not Found
(If there are state digraphs above, this soldier spent some time in a state or national soldiers' home in that state after the war)

Remarks: Unknown


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Munger Street Cemetery, New Haven, VT

Check the cemetery for location/directions and other veterans who may be buried there.


William, and at least several of his male relatives, were the poster boys for Horace Greeley's famous advice to young men "to go west". Actually, William's migration was more likely due to the social phenomenon spurred by the 1849 California Gold Rush and the adjacent discovery of silver in the west, plus the incentive to evacuate the big cities of the East as the huge influx of immigrants into the eastern seaport communities during the mid-1800s caused unbearable overcrowding. Regardless of the personal reasons for the abandonment of the long established, traditional eastern hamlets, there was an undeniable surge of mostly young people towards the setting sun in the mid-nineteenth century. And, for a while, William was in the thick of it. The draw of adventure, instant wealth, freedom to roam the open spaces and the lure of new, fresh, untapped lands ripe for the taking, enticed many second and third generation males to pull up their Vermont roots, pack their belongings (and the kids), and turn their backs to the well developed Green Mountains and head west for new opportunities. A fresh start and a new beginning were not for the faint of heart nor for the timid. Those who were willing to leave all that was familiar and comfortable to them were risk takers who had restless spirits. Some were running from some unpleasant phase of their lives while others were running towards the promise of a better future. Some were motivated by both. Since William and family had just recently suffered a serious setback in their lives before deciding to leave Vermont, it would be safe to say their reasons included both running from and running to simultaneously.

William Washburn Pinney was born April 25, 1849 in Cornwall, Vermont.[1] Sometimes his place of birth was given as Middlebury, Vermont which is where his family lived the greater part of their lives. William was the third son of Almon Pinney (1790-1842) and Almira Woodward (1797-1882) who was also known as Alvira. Almon (sometimes spelled Almos) and Almira were born in Randolph, Vermont but lived mostly in Middlebury where he farmed.[2] William came from a large farming family. He had six brothers and two sisters. Two brothers were older than William: Almon Woodward (1814-1869) and Horace Alden (1816-1895). Four other brothers of the six total he had were younger: Edwin Rathbun (1822-1897); Henry Hubbard (1814-1908); Oliver Lewis (1832-1902); and George Washington (1836-1919). His two sisters were Susan Almedia (1826-1919) and Sarah Violetta (1833-1907).[3] The farm William's father owned and operated was somewhere on the bottom lands near Otter Creek, south of the village of Middlebury near where the present day Seeley District Cemetery was located.[4] Almon, William's father, died October 17, 1842 on that farm when he was still a relative young fifty-two years old. His oldest sons took over the operation of the business for their mother. Around 1843, Almira remarried and was still living on the farm in Middlebury when the 1850 Federal Census was taken. By the time she died in 1882, she had moved to Glencoe, Illinois.[5]

Following in his mother's footsteps, William also got married within two years of his mother's second wedding. He found a soul mate in a young woman named Charlotte Mills Cady (1826-1866) from New Haven, Connecticut. She was the daughter of Clark Carlton Cady (1799-1876) and Naomi Mills (1798-1870). Charlotte had two older siblings: Henry Carlton (1821-1903) and Sarah Hammond (1822-1895). She had two younger brothers at one time. Francis W. (1831-1833) lived to only his second year of life. Francis C. (1841-1842) survived only for a year.[6] William and Charlotte were united in marriage on January 1, 1845 in Middlebury, Vermont.[7] She was eighteen and he was twenty-five. This was the first marriage for both. Soon, within a year, the newly weds received the arrival of their first child. A daughter, named Elizabeth, was born to them in 1846. By the eleventh of September, 1847, William and Charlotte lost their little girl. She was buried in the Munger Street Cemetery in New Haven. On her headstone, her parents had inscribed "Elizabeth, daughter of William W. Charlotte M. Pinney, aged 1 year & 11 days".[8] In a local newspaper, the grieving parents had the following verse printed:

Sweet Elizabeth thou art gone;
Thou hearest not thy mother's moan,
Thy mother's tears, thy Father's sighs,
Thou heed'st them not in Paradise.

Thy weary spirit's now at rest,
Thou'rt sheltered in thy Savior's breast,
Thy face on earth no more we'll see,
But may we dwell in Heaven with thee.

Our Father gave this bitter cup,
And we must drink its portions up;
Then when our life on earth shall end,
A blest eternity with thee we'll spend. [9]

Sometime between laying their first born to rest in 1847 and the birth of the couple's next child, a son named William Clark (1851-1915), William and Charlotte left Vermont and headed west as part of the great mid-1800s migration. They landed in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. This is the place where, on May 17, 1851, William's namesake was born.[10] About a year later, also in Wisconsin around 1852, William and Charlotte had a second daughter born to them. They named her Elizabeth "Lizzie" Pinney.[11] By 1860, William and family were residing in Kenosha, Wisconsin.[12]

April, 1861 brought the decades old tensions between the northern states and those in the south of the Union to an explosive flash point. Pressure created by strong differences in philosophy, economics and cultural life styles that had been building for years finally erupted in a full fledge, shooting rebellion. In Charleston Harbor, South Carolina the costliest war ever fought on American soil had begun. Three bloody years later, it was still raging. Hundreds of thousands of lives had been sacrificed in the fight to preserve a political concept. War weary citizens begged for an end to the killing and maiming of America's youth. Northern generals were hungry for a forced surrender of the rebel forces. President Lincoln and Congress were desperate for a peaceful conclusion to the conflict of wills. It was increasingly difficult by 1864 to raise troops in both the North and the South to continue the insurrection. In the North, an unpopular draft and substitute system had been initiated to induce volunteers to enlist. Substantial bounties of $400 to as high as $1,500 were being offered in order to fill quotas. In the spring of 1864, the Governor of Ohio, John Brough, proposed enlisting the state militia into the federal service for a period of 100 days to be used as guards, laborers and rear echelon soldiers to free the veteran troops for combat - hopefully allowing huge surge of offensive action by the Yankee armies to overwhelm and crush any and all Confederate resistance. These massive victories in the field would certainly put an end to civil war. Brough expanded his idea beyond Ohio's borders by contacting the governors of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and New Jersey to do likewise. The idea was placed before the Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton and President Lincoln, both of whom immediately approved the plan. These militia men recruited under this plan were known as the Hundred Days Men. Unfortunately for the North, the plan failed to accomplish their objective of defeating the South within one hundred days.[13]

William enlisted as a private in this program and became a Hundred Days man when he joined the 39th Wisconsin, Company C on May 17, 1864.[14] This regiment was organized at Camp Washburn, Milwaukee in May and June, 1864. It left the state on June 13 arriving at Memphis, Tennessee on the 17th. There, the regiment had a brush with Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry who entered the city after easily breaking through the Union defensive lines. Afterwards, the 39th was used as guards and pickets until its 100 day term of service expired and the members of the regiment were discharged on September 22, 1864. Its original strength was 780 men. It suffered five deaths while in active duty.[15]

Within two years of his discharge from the service, William was back in Vermont and living in New Haven. Apparently, the grass wasn't as green in Wisconsin as it was on the hills and in the valleys of Vermont. Unfortunately, it was not a happy homecoming for William and his family. On September 2, 1866, William's wife, Charlotte, died. Her early death at forty left William with two teenage children to care for by himself. However, he was quick to alleviate his distress at losing his first wife when, in 1867, he married for the second time. He was a forty-eight year old farmer and the new bride, Julia, was a twenty-five year old daughter of a professional gardener from Burlington, Vermont. Her father was William Brompton (abt. 1790-?) and her mother was Anna M. Brompton. She had been born in England before her family immigrated to the United States prior to 1850. Julia and William were wed in Middlebury on April 5, 1867.[16] The union would produce no new children. Apparently having two step-children was sufficient challenge for Julia. Perhaps the twenty-three year age difference between husband and wife also factored into the decision about not adding more children to the family tree.

Another factor that might have influenced the couple's decision was the fact that William's biological daughter, Lizzie (Eliza) was living with them. She had come back home after leaving and marrying when she was eighteen. With her, she brought her own daughter, Lillie who was stated as being one month old (being born about April, 1870). "Lillie", also known as Effie, was the daughter of William A. Devin. Eliza had married the New York City laborer on October 4, 1869 in Middlebury.[17] Only Lizzie and Lillie were mentioned as living in William's household in 1870; he was not listed as a member of the household. No amount of searching produced any explanation for his absence. Our William, however, was listed as a "quarry man" that year with personal property amounting to only $600. Willie was also still living at home. He was a seventeen year old "teamster".[18] Two years later, in 1872, William ran a newspaper advertisement in the local paper that said: "For Sale - One good 6 horse wagon, one two horse wagon, two oxcarts, three sleds, a lot of draft chains, a set of blacksmith tools, a lot of quarry tools, such as hammers and drills. Inquire at Middlebury Marble Quarry."[19] Obviously, William was making a career change. In 1877, the number of people living under his roof declined sharply. Lizzie remarried that year. Her new husband was Henry E. Kendall. He and Eliza were bound in holy matrimony on December 11, 1867 in Middlebury. The happy couple then set up residence in their own home in Middlebury and filled it with Henry's three children, one by his new wife, and a step-daughter (Effie who was Lizzie's biological daughter).[20]

So, by 1880, William's house was pretty empty. There was only his sixty-one year old self and his thirty-eight year old second wife left living in the home. William was back to his old occupation of farmer in Middlebury.[21] In the 1890 Special Schedules, William was listed as a resident of Middlebury who had spent four months in Company C of the 39th Wisconsin. One of the side effects of the Government's taking this special survey of veterans was that it motivated many of the Civil War era vets to apply for pensions. William was one of the many who did ask the Government for one in 1890.[22] William managed to stay relatively healthy and active his whole life, right up to eighties. Perhaps having a wife almost half his age helped keep him young at heart. According to his medical attendant, M.H. Eddy of Middlebury, he died on May 13, 1899 of old age and nothing else.[23]

As for Julia, the fifty-eight year old widow continued living in Middlebury on the farm for a while, but eventually sold it and moved into the village. By 1910, she was living at 61 Seminary Street in Middlebury on whatever income she received from her widow's pension and from monies the sale of the farm had generated. She rented the house she lived in on Seminary Street.[24] Julia never remarried after William's death. She was living in Leicester, Vermont at the time of her death at seventy-three on July 15, 1913. The cause of her death was from a cerebral hemorrhage brought on by pneumonia.[25]


1., Cousins By The Dozens Family Tree for William Washburn Pinney.
2. Ibid., Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908, Death for William W. Pinney; Ibid., Cousins By The Dozens Family Tree for Almon Pinney.
3. Ibid., Cousins By The Dozens Family Tree for Almon Pinney; Ibid., Pinne Family Tree for Oliver Lewis Pinney.
4. Ibid., Cousins By The Dozens Family Tree for Almon Pinney.
5. Ibid., Cousins By The Dozens Family Tree for Almira Woodward.
6. Ibid., Family Tree for Charlotte Mills Cady.
7. Ibid., Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908 for William W. Pinney.
8., Memorial #22034394.
9., The Middlebury Galaxy, Tue., Sep. 21, 1847.
10., Cousins By The Dozens Family Tree for William W. Pinney.
11., Vermont, Vital Records, 1760-1954, Death, for Lizzie Pinney Kendall.
12., Cousins By The Dozens Family Tree for William Washburn Pinney.
14. Vermont in the Civil War/Cemeteries/Vermont/New Haven/Munger Street/Pinney, William W./military service.
16., Cousins By The Dozens Family Tree for Julie Brompton; Ibid., 1850 U.S. Federal Census for Julia C. Brompton.
17., Vermont,1870, Town Clerk Records, Addison, Middlebury, Births, marriages, deaths, 1857-1925, vol. 2-10; Ibid., Vermont, Vital Records, 1760-1954 for Devin, William A.;, Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908 for Eliza A. Pinney.
18., 1870 U.S. Federal Census for William Phinney.
19., Middlebury Register, Tue., Jun. 25, 1872.
20., Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908, Marriage for Lizzie D Vene; Ibid., 1880 U.S. Federal Census for Lizzie Kendall.
21. Ibid., 1880 U.S. Federal Census for William Pinney.
22. Ibid., 1890 U.S. Federal Census for William Pinney;, U.S. General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934.
23. Ibid., Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908 for William W. Pinney.
24. Ibid., 1910 U.S. Federal Census for Julia C. Pinney.
25. Ibid., Vermont, Vital Records, 1909-2008 for Julia Brompton Pinney.

Courtesy of Bernie Noble.