William A. Wood

William A. Wood, former clerk of Hancock county, a well-know retired farmer of Brandywine township, who for many years was one of the most popular and successful school teachers in this county and who now, in the genial "sunset time" of his life, still comforted by the constant companionship of his good wife, ever a competent and valuable helpmeet in all his undertakings, enjoying th ample rewards of a life well spent in earnest endeavor, is a Virginian by birth, but a most loyal Hoosier by adoption and has been a resident of this county since the days of his young manhood. He was born in Cabell county, Virginia, a section of the Old Dominion now comprised in West Virginia, September 3, 1841, son of the Rev. Wythael L. and Elizabeth (Moore) Wood, both natives of that state, the former born of Scotch-Irish descent in Fluvanma county, April 7, 1802, and the latter of English parentage, March 10, 1814, who later became prominent and influential residents of Hancock county, where their last days were spent.

Of the many who have figured in the common life of Brandywine and Sugar Creek townships and contributed to the general good of that section of the county during the past thirty years, there probably is not another whose name is more closely linked with the moral and educational progress of that community than is that of William W. Wood. The fortunes and the misfortunes of the Civil War period were largely responsible for the transplanting of the Wood family from the from the hills which their ancestors loved back in Virginia, to a free and loyal state, where the crack of the slave-driver's whip was unheard. The Rev. Wythael A. Wood loved justice, freedom and liberty and was foresighted enough to foresee his loved state overrun and made desolate by the victorious armies of the North. In the early sixties, when he and his brother, Milton, were conscripted to serve in the Confederate army, he recognized that the time for action had arrived, and sacrificing what was left of home and belongings in the seceding state, hastened with his family to Ohio, and then in the autumn of 1862, to Indiana and established a permanent home in this county. Though a man of limited schooling, the Rev. Wythael A. Wood was a great student and a man of recognized ability, an able logician, of marked likes and dislikes, true to convictions and strong in argument upholding the same. A preacher in the Missionary Baptist church until his declining health compelled a cessation of his activities in that direction, he exerted a marked influence upon the life of his community. His wife was a quiet and unassuming woman, though possessed of a strong and comprehensive mind, and was a home lover in all that that phrase can imply. The were the parents of seven children, those besides the subject of this biographical review being as follow: Mary F., who maried Samuel Tully and died at her home in Marion, this state, several years ago; Jane E., who married William Barnett and died in West Virginia; Mariah, the youngest daughter, a girl of extraordinary mind, a successful teacher at the age of sixteen, who married Noble Warrum, but gave up a life of usefulness at the age of forty-two years, leaving three sons-Noble, Jr., who is now the postmaster of Salt lake City, Utah; Henry, a well-known attorney-at-law, of Indianapolis, and Mark, the present sheriff of Hancock county- Milton C.., a prosperous retired farmer of this county, now living at Greenfield; John H., a fruit and grain grower, of California, and Mahlon, who departed this life at the age of twelve years.

William A. Wood's youth was spent in the hills of native Virginia and there, in a primitive log school house, he received the rudiments of the broad learning that later was to make him a distinct figure in the educational life of this county. An instinctive student, encouraged from earliest youth by his broad-minded parents, he pursued his studies, practically unaided by any organized system, and in the autumn of 1863, in Indiana, he began teaching school, a calling which he pursued until the spring of 1898, many years after taking up his residence in Hancock county, when he "went into politics" and for thirteen years remained retired from the teaching profession; to be called back to his favorite occupation or profession, which he served, at an increased salary, for two years, at the end of which time he permanently retired from his long service as a teacher, which to him ever was a labor of love, for his heart was in the work. It is believed that Mr. Wood enjoys the honor of being able to greet more persons in the county who at one time or another were pupils in his school than any other teacher who ever worked in the schools of Hancock county. It was in the fall of 1868 that he was given charge of the schools at New Palestine, and he taught in that town, with review terms, select school and the like, twenty-three terms. He also worked one year in a normal school at Southport, in the neighboring county of Marion, and for one year conducted a normal school, in association with Professor Sims, in the West building at Greenfield. Mr. Wood declares that he has loved teaching above any of his other occupations and admits that one of the most flattering experiences of his life was when, after spending one year on the farm, he was called back to his old school at New Palestine at an increased salary.

During his long service as a teacher, Mr. Wood was not unmindful of the substantial things of life and was meantime pursuing his agricultural labors very successfully. He also was giving much attention to the political affairs of the county and in addition to his long service as clerk of the Hancock circuit court, served three successive terms as assessor of Sugar Creek township. Mr. Wood's public life, while clerk of the court, was, like his private life, above criticism, and there are many who still declare that the people of Hancock county were fortunate in their selection of him to that responsible office at that time. In 1910 Mr. Wood built a nice cottage on his estate in Brandywine township and there, surrounded by nature and in the full enjoyment of all the comforts of a happy home, he and his good wife are spending their declining years in perfect contentment. No family in that township has ever stood more firmly committed to all measures looking to the general welfare of the community than theirs and they have often been called in council in matters affecting the welfare of school and church, the private affairs of the people and the affairs of the community at large.

It was back in the early seventies that William A. Wood, to use his own phrase, "made the hit of his life," when he chose the hand and won the heart of Mary Anderson, a most estimable young woman, then living in New Palestine, Indiana, who has ever since shared his fortunes and who has proved a most competent and valuable helpmeet in all his undertakings. Mary E. Anderson was born in the city of Cincinnati, December 28, 1852, daughter of H. P. and Sarah A. Anderson, who moved to this county in the sixties; consequently her youthful schooling was an admixture of the 'Buckeye" and the "Hoosier" methods. She became a school teacher in this county and was teaching the primary school at New Palestine when her acquaintance with Mr. Wood began. To Mr. and Mrs. Wood five children have been born, namely: Charles H., traveling salesman, who has a nice and commodious home and one son, who is in commercial school; Harry, who is successfully cultivating his fine farm of one hundred and twenty acres; Moses C., who spent more than sixteen years in the county clerk's office, twelve years as deputy in that office and four years as clerk, to which office he was elected, and who now is profitably engaged in farming, in which undertaking he is ably assisted by his wife, who was Effie Jeffries and to whom one son has been born; Nellie, who married John A. Cottey, a farmer, and has two children, Harold and Geneva, who are now in high school; and Mabel, a graduate of the Greenfield high school, formerly deputy county clerk, who married A. F. Moulden and has four children, Joseph, Wallace, Mary Alice and Sue. Mr. and Mrs. Wood are adherents of the Missionary Baptist church and Mr. Wood is a member of the Masonic fraternity.

Transcribed from History of Hancock County, Indiana, Its People, Industries and Institutions by George J. Richman, B. L., Federal Publishing Co., Indianapolis, Indiana, 1916. Pages 1114-1117.

Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI November 20, 2001.

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Tom & Carolyn Ward / Columbus, Kansas / tcward@columbus-ks.com

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