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Below is a family biography included in The History of Lawrence County, Missouri published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1888.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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John H. Woods, one of Lawrence County’s leading teachers, was born in Haywood County Tenn., July 4, 1834, at the same hour in the day when John Hancock is said to have signed the Declaration of Independence. He is a son of Judge John Blackburn and Martha H. (Pace) Woods. The Woods family Came to America about the middle of the eighteenth century and located in North Carolina. John Woods, the great-grandfather of our subject, left North Carolina a few years after landing in America and located at Fort Nashville, Tenn., where he reared his family, and took an active interest in the early settlement of Tennessee and in the Indian wars. His sons, Oliver (the grandfather of John H.) and William took active parts in the War of 1812, William especially distinguishing himself at the battle of New Orleans. After the war they returned to Tennessee and engaged in the occupation of farming. Oliver was born in the fort near Nashville, and was married in 1804, settling in Bedford County on a farm. He was well educated, and taught school in both Tennessee and Missouri. He was a fine musician, and also taught vocal music. In 1838 he moved to Benton County, Ark., and in 1844 came to Lawrence County, Mo. He was one of the fourteen men who cast their vote for Abraham Lincoln, in 1860, and was compelled to leave the county. He went to Iowa, and died at his daughter’s, Eliza Andrews, home, in 1863. His wife, whose maiden name was Nancy Haynes, was of Scotch parentage, her people being early residents of North Carolina. She was born near Nashville, Tenn., about 1787, and died in Lawrence County, in 1861. Her son, John Blackburn Woods, was born in Bedford County, Tenn., on the 10th of February, 1811, and received a good education from his mother, and by self-application. He was married in 1832, and settled in Haywood County, Tenn., on a farm. In 1836 he came to Lawrence County, Mo., and located on the farm now owned by his son Daniel. He began life with little or no capital, but by energy and good management became one of the wealthy land-holders of the county, owning 1,700 acres of land on and near Ozark Prairie. He was a strong Union man during the war, and was taken prisoner by the Confederates and robbed of all his personal property. After the battle of Wilson’s Creek he was elected judge of the county court on the Republican ticket, and was re-elected in 1868. In 1870 he retired from office, but always took an active part in politics in the interest of the Republican party, and was identified with all temperance reforms, and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. As his children married and went to homes of their own, he gave them 160 acres of land. He also gave them good educational advantages, and built the first school-house in his district, at his own expense. He died August 11, 1884, after living a good and useful life. His wife, Martha (Pace) Woods, was born in Lebanon, Tenn., April 13, 1812, and was of Irish birth, her ancestors locating in Greenbriar, Va., previous to the Revolutionary War. Grandfather Pace served during that struggle. His father, William, was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Henning Pace, the father of Mrs. Woods, was one of twelve brothers who took an active interest in the early Indian wars, and the War of 1812, and was at the battle of Horseshoe Bend. Mrs. Woods became the mother of eight children, six of whom lived to have families of their own, and all were school-teachers. She resides with her son Daniel on the old home farm. She is a descendant of the Bradshaw family on her mother’s side, who were among the prominent families of Tennessee. Her brother Gideon, while sheriff of Haywood County, Tenn., arrested the noted Tennessee bandit, John Merrill. John H. Woods received a good education, and in 1855 began teaching school in Lawrence County, and between his terms of school taught vocal music and penmanship. In 1857 he entered the Cumberland University at Lebanon, Tenn., attending the literary and theological departments for two years. In 1860 he entered the law department of the same college, and graduated May 11, 1861. January 1, 1860, he was married in Alabama, where he was teaching school at the time, to Mary E. Caldwell. He also practiced medicine, which he had studied at school, on the plantations of Alabama. At the breaking out of the war he sided with the Union cause, and went to White Plains, Ala., where he engaged in teaching school and organizing Union leagues. He was conscripted by the rebel authorities in October, 1862, and was kept under guard in the conscription camps until his connection with the Union leagues was discovered, when he was manacled, and kept in close confinement at Mobile, Ala., but was afterward taken to Atlanta, Ga.; thence to Wartrace, Tenn., to be tried on the charge of organizing secret societies for the purpose of breaking up the Confederacy, but, owing to the advance of Gen. Rosecrans, he was removed, tried and condemned to be shot in August, 1863, but escaped death by the second advance of Gen. Rosecrans. After the battle of Chickamauga he was taken to Atlanta and again thrown into prison, with 900 other prisoners, Gen. Neal Dow, Capt. Hiram Glazier and Pleasant M. Smallwood being among the number. He was taken to Missionary Ridge to be shot, but through the influence of Gen. Stewart, one of the professors of the college where he graduated, the execution was delayed, and he was again taken to Atlanta and kept in irons until July 11, 1864, when he was put to work on the fortifications, but in company with sixty other prisoners succeeded in making his escape, and reached the Union lines August 11, 1864. He made a sketch of the rebel fortifications, which he handed over to Gen. Sherman, together with other valuable information. He remained at headquarters for some time, and then went to Chattanooga and enlisted in a New York regiment, and was put on detail duty at Elmyra, N. Y., as drill master and clerk of the post guard-house. He was discharged May 11, 1865, and returned to his home in Lawrence County. He began teaching school at Mount Vernon in 1866, and was elected county school commissioner, on the Republican ticket, and in 1868 was appointed deputy postmaster of Mount Vernon. During the war he lost the use of one of his eyes, and in 1874 the other failed, and he was compelled to retire to his farm. He receives a well-deserved pension. He has a fine farm of 780 acres, and has given each of his two sons 160 acres. His wife was born near White Plains, Ala., June 17, 1842, and was a daughter of Samuel Caldwell, of Benton County, Ala. He was an extensive planter and trader, and was a strong Union man during the war, and served as a pilot to the Union troops when they passed through Alabama. In 1865 Mrs. Woods rejoined her husband in Missouri, and brought her sisters with her. She died December 6, 1885, having borne five children, two of whom are living: Samnel B., born August 11, 1862, and David C., born August 21, 1870. Mr. Woods has offered the site on which to build a church, and has made a liberal donation in money, the same to be put under the control of the W. C. T. U. The Woods family have always been prominent people of Lawrence County, and have taken a deep interest in public enterprises. Mr. Woods has offered ten acres of land on which to build a church, and has given another ten acres for a celebration and picnic ground.

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This family biography is one of 272 biographies included in The History of Lawrence County, Missouri published in 1888.  For the complete description, click here: Lawrence County, Missouri History, Genealogy, and Maps

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