William was born in Maryland in 1852, the son of James Hungerford and Mary Emma Burbridge. In the 1860 census, William was living with his parents and siblings in Reisterstown. His father James was a lawyer.
Even though he was not yet even a teenager at the time, William served in a cavalry unit during the Civil War. According to his obituary in the Baltimore Sun, "after the war he was given, as a token of appreciation of his services, a medal made from one of the cannon in his company."
By the 1870 census, William is nowhere to be found, though his parents and two of his sisters were now living in Baltimore. On December 20, 1880, William enlisted in the Army. His enlistment record describes him as having a fair complexion, with brown eyes and light brown hair, standing at a height of 5 feet, 7 inches. William's occupation was druggist. He was assigned to company E of the 14th infantry regiment, and stationed at Fort Douglas in the Utah Territory. His service there, as a hospital steward, lasted for just a few months, and he was discharged on August 9, 1881.
William moved next to Missouri, where he married Anna L. Goldberg on February 16, 1882. The couple had one son, James E. Hungerford, born a year later on February 25, 1883. At some unknown point, however, the two divorced.
On May 13, 1898, William again enlisted in the Army, serving as a hospital steward in the 20th regiment of the Kansas volunteer infantry. This time, during the Spanish-American War, his service took him to the Philippine Islands. From his pension application, he claimed that he was wounded in the back near his spine by a rifle ball, and also lost his right eye when a cannon exploded, though documentation of these wounds was missing from military files and could not be substantiated.
There was, however, documentation that he fell ill on several occasions, suffering from pneumonia, bronchitis, and gastritis. His discharge papers state that his illness began prior to enlisting, and that, "he has been on the sick list nearly all the time during the past 4 months. He has no control over his appetite for strong drink." William was honorably discharged on October 8, 1898 at San Francisco, "on account of chronic gastritis due to alcoholism." Yet, somehow, his obituary claims that he "was presented a bronze medal by the people of Kansas for meritorious service."
William returned to Independence, Missouri, where the 1900 census finds him working as a pharmacist and living in a hotel. On June 16, 1903, he married a second time, to Elizabeth "Lizzie" May Yauhzy. A daughter, Gertrude Mary Hungerford, was born on May 25, 1905.
From William's physician's affidavit in the pension file, he continued to suffer from stomach disease and diarrhea, for which he had begun taking opium. The physician, Dr. W. L. Gist, described his use as moderate, but also said that "he had become accustomed to its use while in the service in the Philippine Islands."
William Hungerford passed away at the age of 57 on July 4, 1909 in Kansas City, Missouri from a blood clot, which his wife Elizabeth believed was a result of the injuries he suffered in the war.
While William has a marker at the Reisterstown Community Cemetery near his parents, he is not in fact buried here. A funeral service with military honors, including taps and three volleys fired, was held at Union Cemetery in Kansas City. Officers from his former regiment, the 20th Kansas, served as pall bearers.
In March of 1911, Elizabeth Hungerford filed for a widow's pension, citing the injuries William had suffered during the war. In June, a commissioner from the bureau of pensions requested proof, as they had no records of any such injuries. Elizabeth's pension claim was later abandoned, and on March 29, 1913, she married Percy Osborn. Sadly, Elizabeth, too, passed away just a few months later on December 8, 1913.
Ancestry.com (census records, military post returns)
- Year: 1860: Census Place: District 4, Baltimore, Maryland; Roll: M653_468; Page: 41.
- Year: 1870; Census Place: Ward 16, Baltimore City, Maryland; Roll: M593_P578; Page: 269A.
- Year: 1900: Census Place: Independence Ward 4, Jackson, Missouri; Roll: 860; Page: 21A.
- Year: 1910: Census Place: Kansas City Ward 7, Jackson, Missouri; Roll: T624_786; Page: 6A.
- Year: 1920: Census Place: Ward 13, Baltimore City, Maryland; Roll: T625_658; Page: 3B.
- "William E. Hungerford." Date: 7 July 1909; Page: 7.
- "Served In Spanish War." Date: 8 July 1909; Page: 7.
- "William E. Hungerford." Date: 12 July 1909; Page 7.
Missouri Digital Heritage (death records)
National Archives (pension file)
Cemetery Photos © AgateGS