As usual, I wish I knew more about this man, but I think it's important to share what I know at this point, always hoping that I will learn more about him "tomorrow". Most of what I know about William comes from his obituary, which was published in an unnoted Whitley County newspaper. We know that he died on Saturday, October 5, 1912, and the obituary was published shortly after that, possibly Monday. This is what it says.
"WILLIAM A. WITHERS PASSED AWAY SATURDAY MORNING AT THE HOME OF HIS DAUGHTER, MRS. HENRY KEISER, ON THE SOUTH SIDE."
William A Withers civil war veteran and for many years one of the well known residents of west Columbia township, died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Henry Keiser, on Chicago street at 10:15, Saturday morning, after an illness of less than a week's duration. He had been enjoying good health and last Monday started to Ft. Wayne with a load of potatoes, but before reaching his destination was taken sick, and he was unable to return to this city that night. Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Keiser went to Wayne and brought him to his home on the south side as it was felt that better care could be given him here than at his home, 3 miles west of town, and every effort was made to restore his health but without success.
The deceased was born in Illinois April 2, 1840, and at the time of his death was 72 years, 6 months, and three days old. When the war broke out, he enlisted in Co. C, 15th Ohio regiment. After the close of the war he came to this country and June 16, 1867, was united in marride [sic} to Miss Barbara Cook, [note: she was the daughter of Henry and Catherine Whetstone Cook) and to this union four childfren were born two of whom survive. They are Mrs. Henry Keiser, of this city, and William H Withers, of Goshen, who is now employed in Illinois on a dredge.
Mr. Withers was a member of the Church of God in former years but later became a Seven Day Adventist. He was a member of the G..A.R. and was prompt and regular in attendance of the meetings of that order.
The funeral will occur Monday afternoon at 2 o'clock at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Henry Keiser, on East Chicago Street, Rev. L. A. Luckenbill officiating; interment in the South Park cemetery. The G.A.R. post will have charge of the funeral."
There are so many mysteries here that need further research. The only William Withers I have found in the 1850 census was a William Withers, son of Joseph and Mary Withers, who is indicated as having been born in Ohio. I haven't yet found him in an 1860 census. In 1870, he says he was born in Ohio, and in 1880, that line is blank (he is William Whithers in that census). In 1900, his birthplace is listed as United States. In 1910, he is shown as being born in Ohio. I think he was probably born in Ohio, and that the obituary is incorrect. But I'll keep looking!
As I'm writing this, I realize I don't have his death certificate, which may mention his parents. I will make it a point to get that during the next week.
We do know that his four children were Wilson, born 1869, Willie, born 1871, William H, born 1875, and Della.
If William was the son of Joseph and Mary, who were in the 1850 census in Marion, Iowa, we don't know how it happened that William enlisted in the 15th Ohio Infantry. We do know that he enlisted August 30, 1861 and was mustered out on September 20, 1864. The 15th Ohio Infantry was first organized as a three months regiment, but mustered out August 27-31, 1861. It was reorganized at Mansfield, Ohio in September, 1861. Wikipedia has a good listing of the battles this unit was involved in, and they involved very heavy fighting. No wonder William left at the end of his three year enlistment. I think it's safe to say the memory of William A Withers should be honored in our family.
Here is the line of descent:
William A Withers-Barbara Cook
William H Withers-Della Kemery
Goldie Withers-Grover Harshbarger
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks
I've used census records found on Ancestry.com, the Wikipedia article about the 15th Ohio regiment, and the US Civil War Soldiers Records and Profiles found on Ancestry.Com, along with the obituary, for this posting. I'd love to hear from someone who knows more about William!