JOHN WOOD (deceased). There is no power more effective than the silent influence of a noble life. This truth is fully illustrated in the life of every good man, and in this sketch is presented a man well worthy of imitation by the young and rising generation. John Wood was a product of Old England where he was born in 1805 and there reared and educated. He was married in his native land to Elizabeth Morris, also a native of that country, and prior to their immigration to America in 1824, they had one child born to them. John Wood came to the United States and was followed by two brothers and one sister, James, Samuel and Ann. During his residence; in Philadelphia, Penn., he followed the trade of a mechanic which he had learned when he was young. He possessed a natural aptitude and liking for this calling and in course of time became an expert in that line of work. Upon leaving the "City of Brotherly Love," he turned his face toward the setting sun and in due course of time found himself in Franklin, Middle Tennessee, where he at once began the erection of the first power looms ever used in that State. Succeeding this he was engaged in the manufacture of cotton goods and in his establishment was manufactured the canvass that covered the wagons of many of the early emigrants who left that country to come to Greene County, Mo., prominent among whom were the Roundtrees. Mr. Wood spent some useful years in Tennessee, then moved to Huntsville, Ala., where he erected a power loom for the manufacture of cotton goods, and this also, was the first one built in the State. While at this point he made frequent trips to Philadelphia, Penn., for the purchase of machinery for his looms, and at one time made the long journey on horseback. He was a man of fine physique, was active and industrious and possessed great endurance, qualities that stood him in good stead in his efforts to win a home for himself and family. In 1834 he moved to Rockford, Ill., of which place he was the third settler, and for a long time thereafter be could only obtain his mail by going to Galena, and he was also often compelled to take trips to Chicago, which was then a very small place. He became the owner of a ferry-boat at Rockford, which was one of the very first across the river at that point. In addition to looking after this interest, he did in an expert and skillful manner all kinds of mechanical work and he became widely known as a genius in his line. In 1836 he returned to Tennessee and in Lawrence County he built a cotton mill and for a period of fifteen or sixteen years be was engaged in the manufacture of cotton goods. During this time he was also engaged in planting, and in this as in all his other enterprises, he met with a degree of success which was flattering in the extreme. In 1852 be came with his family to Greene County and settled on Grand Prairie, northwest of Springfield, where he became the owner of a fine tract, of land and settled down to tilling it, although his advanced. years compelled him to desist from its active management, which fell to the lot of his sons. In all the avocations of life in which be engaged, be displayed energy, integrity and a just regard for the rights of his fellow men, and he therefore enjoyed the confidence of a large circle of friends and acquaintances throughout Greene County. While the great Civil War was in progress he moved to Madison County, Ark., where he made his home until about 1864, his time being spent in the manufacture of knives, etc. After the termination of hostilities he returned to Greene County and lived a retired life until his death at the age of eighty-two years. He was a man of great intelligence, sound good sense, unbounded kindness of heart and a correct, yet lenient judge of men and motives. He was thoroughly posted on the topics of the day, was a thorough and profound Bible scholar, was well up in the sciences, and was something of an astronomer. He made for himself a fine telescope some six feet long for viewing the stars, which instrument can still be seen on the lawn at the home of his son, James G. Wood. By the exercise of his varied talents he accumulated a large property, and this, with an untarnished name, which was rather to be desired than great riches, he left as a heritage to his children. Whatever he made up his mind to do he did well, and besides his other fields of enterprise, he was a successful binder of books. He bought a printing press on which he printed a Sunday School paper and cards for the attendants of Sabbath School, in which he took a deep interest as well as in church work. He was very liberal in his support of the cause of Christianity and for many years held a membership in the Christian Church. He was extremely observant and all things in nature possessed for him a great charm which he wisely gratified who he was able to do so, making it a point to visit the Natural Bridge of Virginia while on his way from Huntsville, Ala., to Philadelphia, Penn. His cotton factory in Tennessee had an overshot wheel thirty-five feet in diameter, and at the same time intelligently conducting this establishment he also established a tannery which he managed in connection with his other business. He made money rapidly and was always very lenient with his debtors, never having been known to sue any one that owed him. He had a great liking and an excellent taste in music, his knowledge of which was acquired by his own efforts and be afterward became an instructor of 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 busied at something and even up to his last days was always working. He was perhaps the best known man in Greene County and upon her history left an impress that will last as long as time endures. He was a Whig, always an active Democrat politically but never aspired to political honors. His wife, a daughter of James Morris, was born in 1804 and died in 1866, a lady of many noble qualities and a true Christian in every sense of the word. To this worthy couple an old fashioned family of thirteen children were born: Hannah, born in England, was married to John Williams in Tennessee; he died in 1850 in Tennessee; she married Mr. Farrier in 1854, he being a hatter; he died in 1865; her son, John W. Williams being a hardware merchant in Springfield. She now makes her home with her son, John W. Williams. James G. Wood was the next child; John M.; Martha E. is the wife of J. M. Powell and lives in Springfield, and the other children died when young or in infancy. After the death of the mother of these children John Wood took for his second wife Mrs. M. E. Weaver, widow of Joseph Weaver, and prior to her marriage with this gentleman the widow of a Mr. Shackelford. She is living and is a resident of Springfield. The life of Mr. Wood was filled with noble deeds and his memory will long remain green in the hearts of those who knew and loved him in life and be an example for the emulation of youth.
Springfield-Greene County Library