Samuel Dinsmore Ripley was born August 21, 1831, in Chesterville, Maine, the fourth child of Simeon Ripley and Abigail Pease. By 1860, he had married a woman named Mary and they resided in Dayton, Richland County, Wisconsin, with their two children, May (b. ca. 1856) and Methusula (b. ca. 1860). Ripley enlisted as a private on February 26, 1864, in Company H, 36th Wisconsin Infantry. He was wounded on June 22, 1864, at the Siege of Petersburg, captured at Ream's Station, and held in Salisbury Prison until his death there on December 3, 1864.