William H. Holden was the 3rd Corporal of Company K of the 125th. He enlisted at age 20. He was born in Virginia, and had blue eyes and light hair and was 5’4” tall. He gave his occupation as “cradle maker” – referring to grain cradles. He had been living in Schaghticoke since at least 1850, when he was listed in the census, age 6, with his mother Maria, age 30, and sister Annette, age 4. By the 1855 N.Y.S. census, the three of them were living with his mother’s father, Harold W. Johnson. He was a 60- year- old widowed merchant. He had been living alone in the 1850 census, and listed his occupation as grocer.
By the 1860 US Census, our future soldier William was on his own. He was a 17- year- old apprentice machinist living in the boarding house of George Clark. On the same census page were the families of Isaac Grant and Daniel Viall, proprietors of Grant and Viall, makers of grain cradles in Grant’s Hollow; so it is reasonable to assume that William was their apprentice and lived nearby. He enlisted along with Isaac’s nephew Job Grant in the summer of 1862. (see previous post)By March 15, 1863, he was promoted to Corporal. He was captured in action on June 22, 1864 near Petersburg, Virginia, but unlike Job, he was paroled. He was evidently either wounded or ill later, as he was mustered out of the service on May 23, 1865 at Jarvis Hospital in Baltimore.
N.Y.S. Muster Card for William H. Holden
William returned to Grant and Viall, and is listed in the 1870 US Census as a grain cradle maker, aged 26. His wife was Dorcas A. Eddy. They had a daughter, Ella, age 1. Dorcas died in 1872 and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery. With her are two other children who died as infants: Albert, who died aged 1 month in July 1865 and Cora, who died in July 1868 aged 9 months. Albert’s birth date gives us evidence that William came home on leave in 1864, and that William and Dorcas had been married at least since then.
William continued to work at Grant’s. In the 1880 US Census, he had a new wife, Jennie. The records of the 125th Veterans Association state that he lived in Melrose. The 1890 Veterans Schedule states that he had scurvy of the mouth. Scurvy is caused by lack of vitamin C. Apparently soldiers on both sides of the Civil War suffered from it, though not to a huge extent. One of the results of scurvy is softening of the gums and loss of teeth. Was William saying that he suffered from the loss of teeth? I can’t see the scurvy continuing throughout his life, though the loss of teeth certainly would!
On April 11, 1887, William applied for an invalid pension. That same August he participated in the reunion of the 125th Regiment in Troy. By the 1900 US Census, William, now 59, was widowed again and rented a place on 10th Street in Troy with his daughter Ella Overocker, also widowed. Although his occupation was listed as carpenter, he had not worked at all in the previous year. Ella was a dressmaker.
William was a patient at the Soldiers and Sailors Home in Bath, Steuben County, New York from June to September in 1903. He was recorded as age 63, 5’5” tall with dark hair and blue eyes. He was a Protestant, and a laborer, suffering from cardiac issues and hemorrhoids. He gave his closest relative as Mrs. Jennie Wilson of Ballston Spa. I’m not sure who she was. Very sadly, I find a William H. Holden in the 1910 census as a patient at the Utica State Hospital for the Insane. He was the correct age to be the same person, 69, and listed as born in Virginia, though his father was recorded has having been born in Massachusetts and his mother as in New York. William Holden did live until 1914, and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery with his first wife, Dorcas.
Tombstone of William Holden and Dorcas Eddy at Elmwood Cemetery