William Disney was born in 1832, to David Tiernan Disney and Sarah Carter, outside of Cincinnati. William Disney married Francis Pugh Hart (1842-1903) in 1872; they had seven children: May, Richard Ewing, Agnes Caldwell, Sarah M., Annabelle C., William S, and Samuel Hart. William died in 1899.
Prior to the Civil War, William Disney, a Cincinnati attorney, was Corresponding Secretary of the patriotic militia, the "Guthrie Greys." During the war, from early in 1861 through mid-1864, the Greys served in Cincinnati as the 7th Ohio Militia and then entered the U.S. service as part of the 137th Ohio Infantry. Disney, then 32 years old, received a commission as Captain of Company I. The 137th Regiment did not see much action during its 100-day service. After the war, Disney remained in Cincinnati and resumed his legal practice.