John B. Marsh Sr. was born in 1820 in Sullivan, Tioga County, Pennsylvania, the son of New York natives Ephraim Marsh (b. 1788) and Mary Polly Austin (b. 1787).
Ephraim and Mary were married about 1818 in New York. By 1820 Ephraim was living in Sullivan, Tioga County, Pennsylvania and in 1840 in Wayne, Ashtabula County, Ohio. By 1850 Ephraim and Mary (listed as Polly) were living in Wayne, Ashtabula County, Ohio.
John married Ohio-native Elvira K. Evans (1825-1893) sometime before 1847 and probably in Ohio. They had at least ten children: Merrilah or Meribah (b. 1847), David (b. 1850), Jane (b. 1851), Ephraim (1853-1876), Luther (1855-1876), Belinda (1854-1876), Lillian B. (1857-1876), Almus P. (1859-1913), John B. Jr. (b. 1862) and Edgar L. (b. 1864). (Note that neither Belinda nor Lillian are listed in the 1860 census records with the family.)
By 1850 John was working as a farmer and living with his wife and two children in Colebrook, Ashtabula County, Ohio. Between 1851 and 1853 John moved his family to Michigan and by 1860 he was working as a farmer (he owned $1000 worth of real estate) and living with his wife and children in Caledonia, Kent County.
John stood 5’8” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and was a 41-year-old farmer probably living in Georgetown, Ottawa County when he enlisted in Company E on January 22, 1864, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, crediting Oakfield, Kent County, and was mustered the same day. He joined the Regiment on February 20. Company E records lead one to conclude that soon after joining the Regiment he was transferred -- listed as “John K.” -- to Company H on March 10 at Camp Bullock, Virginia. He was admitted to Second Division hospital in Alexandria, Virginia, on March 24, 1864, suffering from ‘debility,” or he was wounded slightly in the left arm.
John was treated at Alexandria, Virginia for about 4 weeks, transferred from Alexandria to New York City on May 7, and then in New Haven, Connecticut for about 8 weeks. He was still absent sick when he was reported as transferred (as “John K.”) to Company E, 5th Michigan Infantry upon consolidation of the 3rd and 5th Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and he remained absent sick through November of 1864. He was mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.
Curiously, one source reports that John died around 1865, when his mother apparently applied for a pension (8473), but the certificate was never granted. In fact, in 1878 John himself applied for and received a pension (no. 350,785).
Ater the war John returned to Michigan and for a time lived in Ottawa County before moving to Mason County. He was living in East Riverton, Eden Township, Mason County in 1878, in 1880 he was working as a farmer and living with his wife and children in Eden, Mason County. He was living in Eden in 1890; nearby lived John Benson who had served in Company D. He was living in Scottville, Mason County in 1892 and in Eden in 1894; in fact, he probably resided in Eden Township for most of his postwar life.
Following the death of his first wife, John remarried on November 5, 1894, to New York native Ann Eliza Mead Wood (1842-1919), in Scottville.
In 1898 John claimed that Ann left him sometime in November of 1894 or 1895 and that he never heard from her again.
However, in 1916, Ann, who was seeking to gain access to his pension, testified that about November of 1895 she “was called to Cleveland, O. by the serious illness of my daughter Mrs. Richardson. I remained with my daughter until sometime in the following spring, when I returned to Michigan to my husband.” She was called to Cleveland several times thereafter and she was there when her husband died in 1900. “There never was any disagreement between my husband and myself,” she added. “Neither the said John B. Marsh or myself ever applied for or obtained a divorce from each other. Such a thing as a divorce never entered his mind or mine. I can’t understand why Mr. Marsh should have ever made the statement that he did in June 1898.”
John died in Eden on January 29, 1900, subsequent to a dislocation of one of his hips, and he was buried in Lakeside cemetery, Eden Township.
In 1916 his widow Ann was living in Ohio when she applied for and received a pension (no. 872528). She died in Cleveland.