William was the fourth of 12 children born to Dr. Charles West and Adah Messenger. He was the namesake of his mother’s youngest brother. His siblings: Eliza Jane, George Washington, Thomas Lisander, Hugh Blanchard, Luman Jefferson, Charles Ashton, Lewis Almond, Adah Mary, Edwin, Elvira Melissa and Farris Messenger.
In the 1850 census, William is 21 years old and living with his parents in Jefferson, Elkhart Co., Indiana and working as a laborer. In 1860, his parents have moved to Plymouth in Marshall County, Indiana and William is still living with them and his younger sister, Elvira, but his occupation is now listed as ‘physician.'
William enlisted as a Private, Ohio Infantry, Co. D, 52nd Regiment. Though an exact date for enlistment has not been found for this biography, the regiment was formed in the fall of 1861 into the winter of 1861/62, and mustered in February 1862.
Though the date on his gravestone reads 1861, it is incorrect. In “Registers of Deaths of Volunteers, 1861-1865,” William died on 2 Nov 1862. He died at General Hospital #6 at New Albany, Indiana. It is noted in that record that he had chronic diarrhea.*
*Of the 620,000 Civil war soldiers that died, more than two-thirds died of disease, not wounds. Poor hygiene, camp overcrowding, contaminated water supply and improper diet were some of the reasons.
(Many thanks to fellow F.A.G. member 47223271 for this biographical sketch.)