Port William is the birthplace of Gilbert Van Zandt, one of the youngest enlistees in the Union Army during the Civil War.
Born on December 20, 1851, "Little Gib" joined the ranks of Company D, 79th Ohio Volunteer Infantry at the age of ten years, seven months, and sixteen days.
Barely four feet tall, Van Zandt served initially as the company's drummer boy, and later as a courier for the regiment.
Distinguished for his bravery under fire, young Gilbert saw action in the battles for Atlanta, Sherman's March to the Sea, and the Carolina Campaign.
He was discharged from service at the end of the Civil War, already a seasoned veteran at thirteen.
President Andrew Johnson offered the young veteran the choice of attending the United States Military Academy at West Point or of keeping a pony that Van Zandt had used in
the war. Van Zandt chose to keep the horse, which he had named Fannie. Johnson arranged for the horse to be sent by train to Van Zandt's home in Port William.
Van Zandt died in Kansas City, Missouri on October 4, 1944 at the age of ninety-two.