William Chittenden Way was born on July 31, 1824 in East Avon, Livingston County, New York. Young William worked on the family farm and attended school intermittently. At the age of sixteen, he took a job as a clerk in a general store, a position he held for two years. William then worked for three years in the printing office of the Livingston Republican a paper published at Genesco, in Livingston County. William Way converted to the Methodist church in 1843. He quickly became a class leader and taught Sunday school. He was even given an "exhorter's license" Later, William, his father, and a brother opened a clothing store in Rochester.
William Married Eliza M. Lane on August 30, 1845 at Moscow, New York. The couple would eventually have 3 children, one of whom died in infancy. Their son, Charles C. Way followed his father's footsteps as a Methodist minister.
In the photograph above please note the cross on shoulder
tabs. The inscription Reads: "Believe Mr. Miller Your Friend,
William C. Way"
In 1856, "through the wrong of another", the business
failed. William next worked in a daguerreotype establishment for
the princely some of $1200/ year. William heard the calling, however
and in the fall of 1857, he moved to Detroit, and was licensed
as a local preacher, earning about $450/year. . He was first junior
and then senior preacher at the small community of Wayne from
1858-1859. He was then moved to Plymouth, where the war found
During Rev. Way's service with the 24th Michigan, his wife spent several months in the field with the unit. For several weeks after the battle of Gettysburg, William cared for dying and disabled soldiers, assisted by his wife.
Rev. Potts during his Michigan Day at Gettysburg address at the National Cemetery said this about Chapin Way and his service after the great battle:
For long weeks and days after the bloody carnage Gettysburg was the scene of deaths and burials mournful to witness. Writing under date of July 15, 1863-twelve days after the noise of battle was hushed--Chaplain W. C. Way declared: "It is saddening to stand near the express office and see the coffined remains of scores and hundreds being sent for burial to their former homes. Many are dying, and it is almost impossible to get a coffin, so great is demand."
But our honored chaplain knew that the dead taken home were only as a tithe compared with those laid here to rest. He himself, as loved and useful a minister as ever closed a dying eye or soothed a departing spirit, was compelled by the exigencies of that awful fray to go out with spade in hand and cover with a modicum of friendly dust the unburied heaps of his slain comrades. Dr. T. Tunicliff testifies that one day after the battle, while the chaplain was ministering to the wounded, "he (the chaplain) learned that thirty bodies of his regiment"--the gallant twenty-fourth, whose comparative loss in killed and wounded is almost unparalleled in tile annals of war--"were lying unburied on the battle-field where they fell. He picked out two men who were but slightly wounded, and they went a mile and a half to the field and buried their comrades." [Turning to Mr. Way]: Honor to you, Chaplain Way. From me you need no words of praise. Your deeds are your eulogy.
It is sometimes intimated that chaplains are of no use in the army, and that the services of all preachers might as well be dispensed with. But if all chaplains are as useful as was the gallant chaplain of the Twenty-fourth, the army can ill afford to part with them. On general principles I notice that, in peace as in war, preachers are convenient fellows to have around when people are to be buried. (Trowbridge and Farnsworth, p. 63-64)
He returned to the Regiment on September 13, 1863. During Grant's campaign, Rev. Way was on duty in field hospital of the 4th Division, Fifth Corps from July 4 to September 23, 1864, and again for two weeks beginning on November 15. While in the service, Rev. Way acted as the field correspondent for the Detroit Tribune. He was the only Chaplain of a Michigan Regiment to remain in service from the muster in to the muster out of the regiment.
After the war, Way ministered to congregations in
Farmington, Dexter (1867-69), Sharon (1870-1872), Blissfield (1873-1875),
Holly (1876-1878), Rochester (1879-1881), Fort Gratiot (1882-1884),
Almont (1885-1886), Bancroft (1887-1888), and Chesaning (1889-1891).
While serving at Dexter, he suffered a "severe affliction
of the nervous system", possibly a stroke. In 1892, by his
own request, William C. Was placed on the superannuated list.
He and his wife moved to Leslie where they lived with their daughter
Mrs. Jennie Morse.
Chaplain Way was very active in the Regimental Association. He was involved in the effort to place monuments to the Michigan regiments that fought at Gettysburg. He gave the invocation during the Michigan day at Gettysburg ceremonies.
The State released one of the 24th's Flags into the care of Mark Flanigan and William Way. The missing flag of the 24th is shown above in a photograph taken at Springfield, Illinois, in 1865. The current whereabouts of this flag are unknown. This flag may be seen to the left of the monument in in the Michigan Day at Gettysburg Photograph. Chaplain Way is seated to the immediate right of the monument, facing to the right. Since Flanigan died before Way, it is possible that the missing flag passed down through the Way family. Chaplain Way was also active in the Grand Army of the Republic and Masonic Order.
William Way passed away on September 3, 1896. Both the GAR Post and Masonic Lodge in Leslie participated in his funeral. The inscription on his tombstone proudly indicates that he was the chaplain of the 24th. Michigan, and that he was a member of the Detroit Conference for thirty-nine years.
The men of the 24th regarded Mrs. Way so highly, that when
she passed on in 1901, veterans of the 24th Michigan acted as
pall-bearers at her funeral.
Last Updated: 12/25/00
Webmaster: Rob Richardson
CDV and flag photographs © Copyright 1997 David Finney
Gravesite photograph © Copyright 1997 E. Elden Davis
All other original material © Copyright 1997, 1998, 1999 Rob Richardson