The education of William D. McElheney was received in a log school house and in April 1861, he enlisted in Company K, Second Regiment. Michigan Volunteer Infantry, for service during the Civil war. He was wounded at the battle of Fair Oaks and discharged in the fall of 1862. In January, 1863. he re-enlisted in the Eighth Michigan Cavalry, and was promoted to rank of first lieutenant, participating in many battles, and in September 1864, was captured and spent several months in a Confederate prison. He was wounded three times and had several horses shot under him. After seeing much hard service and enduring many hardships and privations he was discharged in 1865, with the rank of captain.
In 1868 Mr. McElheney began working for The Michigan Central Railroad Company, as fireman, and in 1872 went to Freeport and entered the employ of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad Company, then the Western Union Road. After working four years an fireman for the road he was promoted to engineer of engineer. He has been engineer on passenger trains for the past twenty-seven years and during that time has never had a wreck, either of his engine or of a car. On account of poor health he has had a leave of absence recently.
In July 1874, Mr. McElheney married Sophia Spangler, born August 24, 1800 whose parents died in Germany. She came to America with a brother when she was eighteen years of age. Children were born of this union as follows: Alice, who was born October 8, 1877. married J. A. Hall, four children—Lorine J-. Gladys and Lavern; Edwin E. who was born September 10, 1871, is a railroad employee; Paul, who was born November 3, 1881, is also a railroad employee; Bessie, who was born December 25, 1883 married Oscar Poorman, two children— Wanda and William Henry; Ruby, who was born October 4. 1891; Sophia Bell, who was born March 4, 1897; William, who was born January 10, 1875, died November 2, 1900; Henry and Frank, who died in Infancy. There are eight grandchildren in the family. Mr. McElheney purchased I his house he now occupies on Bowen street, when he came to Savanna. In 1884. and is now well known in railroad circle, having a number of warm personal friends. He is much interested in the public welfare and progress and in politics is a Republican. Fraternally, he is a member of the Knights of Pythias and Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. Although injured by being accidentally struck in the head April, 1909, near Lanesvllle IA, causing impairment of eyesight, he is otherwise in good health.
Transcribed by Christine Walters