Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens


JAMES G. WOOD. One of the worthy citizens of Greene county, who has lived to see and take part in its development during the past sixty-two years, is James G. Wood, for a long lapse of years one of our leading agriculturists and stock raisers, now living in retirement enjoying the fruits of his former industry, and although he is past eighty-two years of age, he is in possession of all his faculties and enjoys life to the fullest extent as a result, no doubt, of wholesome living and thinking. He came here from the sunny South in the antebellum days, when this city was an insignificant village and when the county was sparsely settled and practically a wilderness or a wild prairie. His long life of usefulness and honor has won for him the sincere affection of all who have known hint. His early industry has resulted in his possession of a neat competence, and while he still enjoys the glow of the golden rays of the sun of life that must eventually set behind the horizon of the inevitable, he shares that enjoyment with no stint in the companionship of the members of his family and his wide circle of friends, won through his continued residence here of over six decades.

Mr. Wood was born in Huntsville, Alabama, February 24, 1832. He is a son of John and Elizabeth (Morris) Wood. John Wood was born in England in 1805 and there grew to manhood and was educated, and there he married Elizabeth Morris, a daughter of James Morris, and she was born in England in 1804, and died in 1866. To John Wood and wife thirteen children were born, namely: Hannah, who was born in England, married John Williams, of Tennessee, and after his death in 1850, she married a Mr. Farrier, in 1854, he being a hatter; her son, John W. Williams, became a leading hardware merchant in Springfield, Missouri, and with him she spent the latter part of her life. James G. Wood, subject of this sketch, was the next child; John M. Martha E., who married J. M. Powell, also became a resident of Springfield. The other children all died in infancy. After the death of the mother of these children, John Wood married Mrs. M. E. Weaver, widow of Joseph Weaver, and prior to her marriage to this gentleman the widow of a Mr. Shackelford. She spent the latter part of her life in Springfield. John Wood emigrated with his wife and child to the United States when a young man, and was later followed by two brothers and one sister, James, Samuel and Ann. He located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he followed the trade of a cotton spinner, which he had learned in the old country, and eventually became an expert in that line of work. Mr. Wood moved to Huntsville, Alabama, where he erected a power loom for the manufacture of cotton goods, which was the first built in that state. From there he made many trips to Philadelphia for the purpose of purchasing machinery for his looms and at one time made the long journey on horse back. He was a man of exceptional physical endurance, robust and courageous. In 1834 he removed to Rockford, Illinois, being the third settler there, and there endured the many hardships incident to life on the frontier. He made numerous trips to Chicago, then a mere village. He became the owner of a ferry boat at Rockford, which was one of the very first to cross the Rock river at that point, and there he maintained a shop in which he did all kind of engineering work. He removed to Franklin, Tennessee, where he built the first power loom ever used in that state. He then engaged in the manufacture of cotton goods and in his establishment was manufactured the canvas that covered the wagons of many of the early emigrants who left that country to come to Greene county, Missouri, prominent among them being the Rountrees. In 1836 he located in Lawrence county, Tennessee, where he built a cotton mill and engaged in the manufacture of cotton goods for about sixteen years, and during that period also managed a large plantation, and was, most successful in both enterprises. In 1853 he came to Greene county, Missouri, locating on Grand Prairie, northwest of Springfield, where he became the owner of a fine tract of land, which he developed by the assistance of his sons, his advanced age compelling him to merely oversee the place. During the Civil war he removed to Madison county, Arkansas where he remained until 1864, and while there engaged in the manufacture of knives and other utensils. After the close of the war he returned to Greene county and lived a retired life until his death at the age of eighty-two years, dying in Springfield, April 30, 1887. Politically he was a Whig and while active in political matters was never an Office seeker. Religiously he was a member of the Christian church, and an active worker in the Sunday school. He even purchased a printing press on which he printed a Sunday school paper and cards for the Sunday school pupils. He was very liberal in his support of the church. He made money rapidly and was always lenient with his debtors, never suing anyone who owed him. He was a great Bible student and was well posted on the current topics of. the day, was interested in the sciences, especially astronomy, and he made for himself a splendid telescope, some six feet long, which instrument is now in possession of his son, James G., of this review. By the exercise of his varied talents he accumulated a large property, and this, with an untarnished name, he left to his children. He did all his work thoroughly and believed that whatever was worth doing at all was worth doing well, and, besides his other fields of enterprise he was an expert book-binder. His, cotton factory in Tennessee had an overshot wheel thirty-five feet in diameter, and at the same time intelligently conducting this factory he also, operated a tannery on a large scale in connection with his other enterprises. He was musically inclined, and first his own instructor in this art he later was able to instruct others. He made a number of musical instruments, all of which he could play, and they were considered excellent of their kind. He was never contented unless busy at something and even in his last days was always working. He was one of those men who had a keen observing faculty, and Mother Nature in her varied forms possessed great beauty amid attraction for him, and while on his way to and from Philadelphia from Huntsville, Alabama, he always took occasion to visit the Natural Bridge in Virginia. He was one of the best known men in Greene county and was greatly admired and esteemed by all.

James G. Wood spent his boyhood days assisting his father with his various pursuits, principally about his cotton mills and farms, and he also learned the tanner's trade, and for some time had the management of that branch of his father's business. Although the opportunities to obtain an education in those days were not the best, he improved those he had, and remaining a wide reader and close observer always he became a well informed man. He left Tennessee in 1852, when he was twenty years of age, having preceded the family several months, and located with the rest of the family on Grand Prairie, Greene county, Missouri, where he engaged in farming until the commencement of the war between the states, when he removed with the family to Madison county, Arkansas, where he conducted a tannery until in 1864, when he returned to Greene county, and a few years later located on a farm of one hundred and sixty-seven acres near Springfield, which was given him by his father, and on which he continued to reside until his retirement from active life a number of years ago. His to farm was desirably located four miles southeast of Springfield, consisting of one hundred and eighty-seven acres, and was one of the best improved and most productive in the county. On it stood a large dwelling in the midst of attractive surroundings and a number of substantial outbuildings. Here he carried on general farming and stock raising on an extensive scale and prospered with advancing years through his able management and close application, until upon the arrival of old age he was classed among the wealthiest agriculturists of the county. He now resides in a beautiful home on East Walnut street, Springfield, which he built himself, surrounded by all the comforts of life.

Mr. Wood was married on October 1, 1857, to Susan Ann Dishongh, a daughter of Henderson and Sarah (Hail) Dishongh. The father was born in North Carolina, January 2, 1812, and was a son of Augustin Dishongh, who came from France in an early day and located in North Carolina before the Revolutionary war. At one time he ferried George Washington and his army across the river at his plantation. His death occurred in 1847 in Giles county, Tennessee, where he had moved in pioneer days. He reached the age of eighty-two years. His youngest son, Henderson Dishongh, was killed by lightning, June 16, 1847, in Giles county. The elder Dishongh was a skilled mechanic, and for many years was engaged in the manufacture of cotton cloth, and at the same time worked at his trade of millwright. He was the inventor of one of the first improved cotton spinning machines ever made. He was regarded as one of the greatest geneiuses in a mechanical way in his day and generation in this country. Politically, he was a Whig, took considerable interest in public affairs and was a useful citizen in every respect and highly honored by all who knew him. He and Sarah Hail were married in Tennessee. She was a daughter of Butler and Elizabeth Hail, who were early pioneers of that state, and were relatives of Dr. William Hail, a noted surgeon in the Mexican war. The death of Mrs. Sarah Dishongh occurred in Giles county, Tennessee, December 26, 1850. To Henderson Dishongh and wife six children were born, namely: George B. became a prosperous manufacturer of cotton goods in Lawrence county, Tennessee; Augustin, who owned a mill at Pulaski, that state, died at the age of forty-three years; Elizabeth married J. K. Speer, a prominent business man of Indianapolis, Indiana; Susan, who married James G. Wood, of this sketch; Sarah A. married James R. Gilmore, of Alabama, and Martha J., who married a Mr. Foster, of Greene county, Missouri, died in early life. Mrs. Woods was born in Giles county, Tennessee, June 5, 1839, and there she received a common school education. She was seventeen years of age when she removed with the family to Lawrence county, Tennessee, where she lived until her marriage to our subject.

Two children were born to James G. Wood and wife: Sarah E., whose birth occurred June 11, 1859, died April 15, 1862, and Susan J., whose birth occurred August 15, 1861. The latter was educated in the Springfield high school. She married B. L. Routt, a leading groceryman of Springfield, and to them four children were born, namely: Amma, now Mrs. Bert Richardson, who has one child, Josephine; Josephine; Lonnie, who died at the age of two years; James Routt, married, and is a clerk in the Metropolitan hotel.

The death of Mrs. James G. Wood occurred, February 2, 1912, when nearly seventy-three years of age. She was a woman of strong mind and kind heart, was beloved by her neighbors and friends, and was a devout member of the Christian church. Mr. Wood is also a member of that denomination, and politically he is a Democrat, but he has never been active in political affairs. He is charitably inclined and has ever been generous to those about him in need or distress, and has never hesitated to aid generously all movements that have for their object the general good. Many a young man owes his start and success in life to the material aid and sound advice of this venerable patriarch whose example is worthy of emulation by the youth who would not only make a success in life, but also become a useful and highly respected citizen.

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