William J. Sperry was born in the small, historic and quaint community of Cavendish, Windsor County, Vermont on 28 December 1840, the son of John G. & Roxanna (Pratt) Sperry. He was a first generation Vermonter on the Sperryside, his father having come to Cavendish from New Haven, Connecticut around 1820. William m. 1st, in Cavendish 9 June, 1863, Percy E. Bridges of Chester (b. 1840, dau. of Perry & Louisa (Roberts) Bridges). She died in Cavendish, 26 March, 1877 (age 34). He married 2nd at Cavendish 1 August 1888 Lucy M. Perry (born Rockingham, VT, 1851, daughter of Ralph & Lucretia Eleanor Perry).
William J. Sperry was a Vermont Civil War soldier. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honorfor gallantry in the assault on Petersburg, Va. He served as Sergeant of Co. "E " Sixth Regiment and was promoted 2nd Lt of that Company 21 Aug. 1862. He was commissioned 1st Lieutenant of Co. "E " 3 March, 1863. He was commissioned Captain of Co. "C " on 8 August 1864. He was commissioned Major of the Sixth Regiment 7 Jan. 1865; Brevet Lt. Colonel 2 April 1865 and Lt. Colonel 4 June, 1865. He mustered out as Major 25 June, 1865.
After the war, Colonel Sperry settled, spending the greater part of his life, in his beloved home-town community of Cavendish. The local newspaper reported, at the time of this 2nd marriage, "Ah there! Did you know that on Wednesday evening of this week and at about 9 o' lock thereon, the Rev. Mr. Wight called at the residence of Henry C. Perry of this place [Cavendish] and there found Colonel William J. Sperry evidently spending the evening with Miss Lucy M. Perry. Everything being in order and readiness and the pair being in a condescending mood, they at once stood up and by a few words spoken and a few promises made, the Colonel and Lucy were made one. The congratulations and best wishes of the community are expressed to the newly married couple. "
We learn from the Vt. Tribune newspaper, some personal tidbits about the post Civil War life of Colonel Sperry, as a citizen of Cavendish:
18 Oct. 1895: Col. William J. Sperry of Cavendish has been granted an increase of pension through the C.C. Johnson agency from $12 to $30 per month, in the remarkably quick time of twenty-five days. The case was made special on account of the Colonel's feeble condition. "
29 Jan., 1897: "The Lewiston Maine Daily Sun reports: Lt. Col. W. J. Sperry of Cavendish, Vt., a life-long friend of Samuel Hibbert, Esq., is a guest of that gentleman at his home on Lisbon, Street. Col. Sperry is a veteran of the 6th Vt. Regiment, and is making a host of friends among local G.A.R. men to which Mr. Hibbert has introduced him. He will attend a meeting of Custer Post this evening. He is one of the nine men who were honored by General Grant for a medal for bravery on the field of battle. "
30 April, 1897: "Mrs. William Sperry is sick with measles and Mrs. Ned Sawyer of Felchville is caring for her. "
12 Jan., 1900, Cavendish: "Mrs. L. C. Perry, in her 84th year, was visited by all her children on New Year's Day, they all not having been together before for twenty years. They were Mr. W. M. Knowlton of Brookline, Mass., J. M. Perry of Brattleboro; and M. C. Perry, Mrs. Mary L. Bigelow, and Mrs. W. J. Sperry of this place. "
We learn also from the Tribune of 9 March, 1900: "William Sperry circulated a paper among the friends and neighbors of C. E. Warfield and obtained sufficient funds to saw and split seven cords of wood for Mr. Warfield which he was unable to do because of his own poor health. "
The Vermont Tribune, 1 June, 1900: "Memorial exercises were observed at Cavendish primary school, Mrs. Fannie Raymenton, teacher. The schoolhouse was tastefully decorated inside and out. William Sperry, a war veteran, exhibited a canteen that he had carried in the Rebellion and made appropriate remarks. Remarks were also made by Rev. D. W. Lyman. "
25 June, 1901: "Colonel W. J. Sperry has been appointed a member of the legislative committee of the Fort Stevens Lincoln National Park Association of Washington, DC. "
1 Nov., 1901: "William Sperry was taken sick about three weeks ago with an army trouble, of which he has been sick a great deal heretofore. It has resulted in disease of the brain, and has been in a critical condition for the past two weeks, having been unconscious since last Friday. "
On 8 Nov., 1901: "Dr. Knowlton of New Jersey sanitarium came to William Sperry's Friday and returned Saturday. "
On 13 Dec., 1901: "William J. Sperry, who has been very ill, is able to sit up a short time."
On 16 May 1902: "Mr. & Mrs. William J. Sperry and son Fred spent Sunday in Londonderry."
On 20 June 1902: "W. J. Sperry is in Montpelier attending state convention this week."
On 4 July 1902: "Mr. & Mrs. James Perry and sons of Brattleboro are visiting his sister, Mrs. William Sperry."
7 Aug. 1903: "Colonel William J. Sperry and wife of Cavendish visited at Arthur Spaulding's on Saturday, August 1st, it being their wedding anniversary and also their custom to celebrate it together."
15 April, 1904, "J. M. Perry of Brattleboro, for 22 years a piano and organ tuner, visited his sister, Mrs. William Sperry, over Sunday."
9 March 1906: "James Perry of Brattleboro has been visiting his sister, Mrs. William Sperry, while on his journey on the road tuning pianos." same date: "William Sperry, when returning from town meeting Tuesday and opposite his residence, fell in a swoon from some unknown cause. He was carried into the house by two men who happened to be passing by. Mr. Sperry did not rally for two or three hours sufficiently to know what had happened. The next morning he was up and around the house and is in a fair way to recover."
Colonel William Sperry finally succumbed to the recurrent fever he had experienced intermittently since coming home from the great war. He died at Claremont, NH 3 March, 1914
1. Fred Child Sperry, b. 1 May, 1889. Tribune, 20 Jan., 1905, Cavendish; Fred Sperry is laying off from his studies on account of defective eyesight caused from over-study. It is not of a permanent character as he was advised by specialists at Hanover, NH to refrain from mental exertion for a few weeks." Fred m. 29 May, 1918 Edith Fannie Kibbey (b. 11 March, 1890). He d. at Cavendish., 4 July, 1942. Edith d. 27 Nov., 1970.
2. William Joseph Sperry, b. & d. 2 Jan., 1922
Contributed by Linda M. Welch, Dartmouth College