Henry W. Booth

Henry W. Booth was born October 7, 1839, in Marion, Wayne County, New York, the son of William and Anna or Ann (Brown, b. 1804).

Sometime before 1854 Henry’s parents moved the family from New York, and headed west, eventually settling in western Michigan.

On October 6, 1854, when he was 14 years old, Henry arrived in Lowell, Kent County, Michigan, along with his brother, E. J. Booth (possibly John Booth), having traveled from Chicago, first across Lake Michigan. As Henry described it many years later, once they arrived in Michigan they then went “by rail to Kalamazoo, by stage to Grand Rapids, and from the latter place to Lowell by team with his brother, . . . who with Loren Chapin was running a general store in the west L of the Hooker house where the Ford hardware is now located.”

Henry further recalled “that 14 old fashioned thorough-brace stage coaches loaded inside and out left Kalamazoo for Grand Rapids that day, with 4 horses to each coach. The plank road between was half built and the balance of the road was mostly bad, in one section of 4 miles everybody walked.”

When asked about the businesses of Lowell at that time Henry replied there was

Toussaint Campau, familiarly known as ‘Two-Cent’ Campau who sold dry goods, groceries and notions in the “Checkered Front” located at about east end of the present auto body factory. William Cobmoosa, an Indian, had a little store just west of the Checkered Front, trading mostly with the Indians. About the place where Hoffman's boat landing is now, Orson Peck had a general store at the steamboat landing on Grand River. Where Geo. M. Winegar's residence stands was a small 1-story shoe shop run by Isaac White and father, father and grandfather of our Frank N. White. Where the Lowell State Bank is, Stephen Denny had a blacksmith shop. Moses Coates had another blacksmith shop a block east and a block north. Charles Smith had a wagon shop a block north of Main Street. Loren Chapin was running a grist mill in the upright portion of the present East side mill, afterwards conducted by Chapin, Booth and Talford. A sawmill stood where the Lowell Cutter factory is, run by water power and a Mr. Jackson, father of Albert, made a record cut of 250 feet of oak lumber in 1 day. A Mr. Wilcox had a hotel on the corner now occupied by the City Hall, but soon sold to Cook & McNair. Azra King had another hotel where the Reed block now stands. These were known as the American house and the Lowell hotel. On the west side were the Snell schoolhouse, a barn and the log school house. On the east side of the Flat River, near the present Oakwood cemetery, was the Ottawa Indian village of about 300 souls.

By 1860 Henry was still living in Lowell and working as a common laborer and/or living with his mother Ann (she was listed head of the household) in Lowell.

Henry stood 5’9” with gray eyes, black hair and dark complexion and was 21 years old and was working as a farmer and probably living in Lowell when he enlisted as a Drummer in Company D on May 13, 1861. (Company D was composed in large part of men who came from western Ionia County, and a few from the far eastern side of Kent County, and Eaton County.) It is quite possible that Henry, who had contracted measles and suffered from chronic diarrhea while the regiment was forming at Cantonment Anderson in Grand Rapids, and before the regiment left Grand Rapids on June 13, 1861, was left behind along with three dozen or so other troopers. He apparently recovered sufficiently and if he was left behind, soon rejoined the regiment at its first camp, near Chain Bridge along the Potomac at Georgetown Heights. Henry was treated at the regimental hospital at Chain Bridge for dysentery and the effects of measles.

But sometime in spring or early summer of 1862, while the regiment was on the march to Richmond, Henry contracted rheumatism reportedly from exposure. Shortly afterwards he was reported as a hospital attendant in July of 1862, but according to Henry he “was with the regimental hospital a large portion of the time.”

Henry reenlisted as a Musician on December 23, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Lowell. He was absent on veterans’ furlough in January of 1864 and probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February. he was subsequently reported on detached service as a nurse in the Division hospital.

Henry was still on detached service as a nurse when he was transferred to Company A, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and he remained detached to the Division hospital through July of 1864. He was promoted to Hospital Steward on July 13, 1864, and on September 13 was transferred to the non-commissioned staff, and on furlough in January of 1865. He was mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.

After the war Henry returned to Lowell.

He married New York native Mary A. Grindell (1847-1904) on March 29, 1866, and they had at least eight children: William (b. 1867), Catherine (Underhill, 1868-1900), Capstrotia (b. 1869), Mrs. Worthy Willard, a boy who died in infancy, another son who died of diphtheria at the age of 5, and another son Charles W. (b. 1873-1905), Ada B. (b. 1879).

In 1870 Henry was living with his wife and two children and working as a farmer in Lowell, and for a time operated a planning mill. According to one report, he had been injured slightly three times during the war “only to get a crippled hand on a saw while running a planning mill for a few months after the war.” Henry also worked as a collecting agent.

He also continued to suffer from the effects of the chronic diarrhea he had contracted while in the army. he stated some years after the war that for several weeks in the summer of 1866 he was confined to his bed as a result of severe stomach problems, and the had been under the regular care of Drs Peck and McDaniel, apparently Lowell physicians. By 1880 Henry was working as a collecting agent and living with his wife and children Kittie L., Charles and Ada, in Lowell. By 1898 he was living in Fallassburg, Kent County, near Lowell.

Except for two years that he lived in Vergennes, Kent County, and his service in the military, Henry lived virtually all his life in Lowell.

Shortly after his wife died in 1904 Henry went to live with his daughter Worthy and her family who also lived in Lowell; he was still living in Lowell in 1914.

In 1889 Henry applied for and received a pension (no. 495218), drawing $30 per month by 1916; he was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, and Grand Army of the Republic Post No. 87 in Lowell.

One observer reported in October of 1916 that although he had recently turned 75 years old, Henry “is still quite active for a man of his years and is a familiar figure about town, cordially greeting his old friends daily. He has richly earned the peace and comfort of his journey to the setting sun. May his cup of joy be full and overflowing to the end.”

Henry was a widower when he died of “natural causes” at his home in Lowell on Sunday, December 3, 1916, and the funeral was held at the residence on December 6, under the auspices of the Masonic fraternity. The Lowell Ledger wrote that “Mr. Booth was a man of good mental attainments and business judgment and his advice was frequently sought by many of his friends and as freely given. While Mr. Booth had his faults, he was a faithful friend and a pleasant acquaintance; and all of those who have known him, except those who themselves are perfect, will remember him kindly.”

Henry was buried in Oakwood cemetery, Lowell.