Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens
JAMES A. WOODSON. Some families seem to be born mechanics, just the same as men are born with a bent toward any other vocation, and the children of such are as a rule very precocious in the lines which they are destined to follow, their inclination being shown in their toys and in their play often when they can scarcely talk or walk. This bent should be carefully encouraged by the parent, whose child may become in due course of time a man of rare talent, if not an inventor of useful devices, at least a man of great service in some way or another, capable of doing exceptionally good work in some useful line and therefore be a blessing in a general way to the human race. James A. Woodson, general foreman of the South Side Frisco shops, Springfield, came from such a family and was such a child. He has followed up his natural liking for mechanical work with the result that he is one of the ablest mechanics on the great system for which he works.
Mr. Woodson was born at Roanoke, Howard county, Missouri, May 10, 1859. He is a son of William B. Woodson, who was born in the state of Virginia where he grew up, attended school and learned the carpenter's trade when a boy, later, in 1842, removing to Missouri and establishing his future home. He was of Scotch-Irish descent, and he became a well-known and successful contractor and builder in Howard and Randolph counties this state, maintaining his office at Roanoke, under the firm name of Woodson & Phelps. His death occurred in 1893 at the age of seventy-four years. Politically, he was originally a Whig, later a Democrat. He was a member of the Baptist church. He married Martha C. Lockridge, who lived near Roanoke. She was a daughter of William Y. Lockridge, who was one of the first tanners in Missouri, who later became a manufacturer of shoes and handled leather and leather goods, being well known in Howard county. Archer W. Woodson, our subject's paternal grandfather, was a farmer near Cordingville, Roanoke county, Virginia. Nine children were born to William B. Woodson and wife, namely: Willie married P. A. Frederick, a broker and real estate man of Kansas City; Emmett L, who died in 1909, was a traveling salesman for Swift & Company; James A., of this sketch; Lutie is the wife of a Mr. Mowinkle, traveling auditor for Swift & Company out of Chicago; Ruth, Charles and Harry are all deceased; Bessie is the wife of C. A. Carrier, who is engaged in the manufacturing business in Kansas City; Maud, who has remained single, is with the secretary of the Relief Board of Kansas City.
James A. Woodson grew up in Howard county and there received a common school education, and when but a boy he began work as a machinist at Moberly, Missouri, where he served his apprenticeship in the St. Louis, Kansas City & Northern Railroad shops, beginning there on March 8, 1874, and remained with that company until 1880, then went to Mt. Vernon, Illinois where he worked a year as machinist for that Louisville & Nashville Railroad. He then worked at Tracy, Tennessee, as machinist for the Tennessee Coal & Iron Company, was division foreman there for three years. He then went to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he worked as machinist for the Southern railroad for a short time, after which he came back to Moberly, Missouri, where he worked in the Wabash railroad shops for awhile at his trade, then went to Kansas City and found employment with the Kansas City, Ft. Scott & Memphis Railroad Company, beginning as machinist there on October 1, 1884, and remained there until October 1, 1890, then came to Springfield for this company, working in their shops here until October 1, 1891, when he was appointed machine shop foreman. In March, 1907, he was promoted to general foreman of the South Side shops which position he has occupied to the present time, and was placed in charge .of the round house here on August 11, 1911. He has under his direction on an average of one hundred men. Everything is under a splendid system of modern management and he is a man of such fine executive ability that he gets the best results possible from his men and at the same time wins and retains their good will and friendship.
Mr. Woodson was married in 1889 to Julia D. Wray, a daughter of Joseph A. and Christiana (Rea) Wray, who were born near Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. To this union two children have been born, namely: Dorothy L is a student of piano under Miss Atwood, of Springfield, and she has decided musical talent; Gladys is a student in Drury College.
Politically, Mr. Woodson is a Democrat. Fraternally, he belongs to the Masonic order, Solomon Lodge; also the Royal Arcanum, and the Modern Woodmen of America. He is a member of Calvary Presbyterian church, in which he was a deacon for some time. He has long been active in church work.
Springfield-Greene County Library