My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890.  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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SAMUEL F. WOODWARD. It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find another man in Greene County so thoroughly contented with his lot in life as the subject of this sketch, who is one of the most prominent residents of Osborn, and whose portrait appears on the opposite page. He has abundant reason for his contentment, being blessed with the means which enable him to surround himself with every comfort and with all the reasonable luxuries of life, and allows of his retirement from business cares, excepting in so far as he desires, while his lovely home is presided over by a lady of cultured tastes and charming manners, whose companionship is a continual delight. Mr. Woodward is thoroughly well-informed on all general topics, is finely educated and has the happy faculty of making his knowledge pleasing to those around him, being a fine conversationalist and the soul of hospitality. His memory is a storehouse of useful knowledge, and an hour spent in his society is a pleasure at any time. Having a leading position in the affairs of the municipality, he looks well to the interests of the taxpayers, and while desirous to improve the place, endeavors to display economy in its government.

The Woodward family is of English extraction, the first of the ancestors whom we note being John Woodward, a native of Massachusetts. He removed to Vermont when a young man, and opening a farm there, operated it until 1809. He then went to Cortland County, N. Y., and about seven years later to Crawford County, Pa., purchasing land in Spring Township. There also he opened a farm, becoming prominent, influential and well-to-do. While yet a very young man, he entered the Revolutionary Army, serving a year with the Green Mountain Boys under the renowned Ethan Allen. He died at the age of about eighty-three years. He had married into the Washburn family, of the Green Mountain State, descendants of which have become so well-known throughout our country.

To the above-mentioned couple, near Rochester, Vt., in 1795, a son was born, who was given the name of John. He went to the Empire State with his parents when fourteen years old, and when they removed to Pennsylvania he remained behind, residing in Genesee County a year. He then joined his father in Spring Township, Crawford County, Pa., where he engaged in farming and was quite successful, becoming the owner of one hundred and fifty acres of valuable land. He held several township offices; in politics he was a Republican, and in religion a member of the New Light Christian Church. He resided on his farm until he was four-score years old, when he sold his estate and spent two years with a daughter in Winneshiek County, Iowa. He then came to live with his son, our subject, with whom he remained nine years, after which he took up his abode with another son, at Girard, Erie County, Pa. There he breathed his last February 24, 1888, his mortal remains being deposited in Spring Township, Crawford County, where he had so long resided.

The mother of our subject bore the maiden name of Mary Foster. She was born near Pittsburg, Pa., in 1794, and was reared there to the age of eight years, when she was taken by her parents to Crawford County, where she grew to womanhood, and in 1819 became the wife of John Woodward. She possessed great activity of both mind and body and could turn her hand to anything — weaving, housework, or any of the arts known to womankind. She was a natural mathematician, computing mentally with great accuracy, and our subject has undoubtedly inherited from her his decided bent in that direction. She entered into rest in 1856, at the age of sixty-two years. Her father, George Foster, was born in the North of Ireland and was married near Belfast. His occupation was that of a farmer. About 1792, having left his native land, he settled in Shermans Valley, Pa., the next year removing near Pittsburg. About 1802 he settled in Spring Township, Crawford County, to which his son William had gone the year before on foot. The son had selected a tract of land, bought four hundred acres, and remained there during the summer, clearing a portion of it and constructing a rude log house. He was but sixteen years old at the time, and once a week walked six miles to an aunt, from whom he secured bread, cooking for himself the other necessaries of life. The family included six brothers and two sisters — William, Thomas, John, George, Robert, James, Isabell and Mary, the mother of our subject. John taught the first school in Spring Township and was a soldier in the War of 1812, serving as Captain in two different companies.

The subject of this sketch is the fifth in a family of six children. The first-born, Mary J., Mrs. Nicholson, died in Hamilton County, Iowa; Charlotte, Mrs. Huntley, died in Erie County, Pa.; John, who was Lieutenant in the Pennsylvania militia, resides in Erie County; Caroline is the wife of H. P. Nicholson, of Winnesheik County, Iowa; George, who died in 1863, six months after his marriage, possessed a decided talent for portrait painting, and studied that branch of art in Dayton.

The gentleman whose name introduces this sketch was born December 15, 1830, in Spring Township, Crawford County, Pa., and being reared upon the farm, acquired a rudimentary knowledge of agriculture in early boyhood. He had good common-school advantages and displayed more than ordinary ability for learning, all branches of study seeming to be easy for him, but mathematics being his special forte. At the age of nineteen he began teaching in his own township, conducting the school during two winters and spending the summers in attendance at Kingsville Academy, Ashtabula County, Ohio, from which he was graduated in the spring of 1853. The previous winter he had taught near Girard, Erie County, and the winter after his graduation he filled the Chair of Professor of Mathematics in his Alma Mater during the absence of the regular professor for four and a half months. He was well advanced in that particular branch of study and has never found his superior, being still one of the finest mathematicians in the country.

In the spring of 1854 Mr. Woodward started westward, journeying on the canal to the Ohio River at Beaver, and thence taking passage to Maysville, Ky., on a river steamer. He had thought of remaining at that place and continuing his professional labors, but being dissatisfied, made his way to Iowa, where he remained a couple of months, investing the money he had saved in Government land in Black Hawk County. Some two years later he made a second investment, buying in Webster County, his landed possessions in the State being then over four hundred acres, which he disposed of in after years. After the short sojourn in the Hawkeye State, he returned to Pennsylvania, where he remained until August, and then took up his abode in Montgomery County, Ohio. He continued his work as a pedagogue, his first school in that county being two and a half miles from his present home. He resided there until 1859, being employed in various pursuits during the summer, and teaching in winter. Upon locating in Osborn, he taught school for a time and then became principal of the schools at Fairfield.

In 1862 Mr. Woodward abandoned pedagogical labors and became a dealer in fruit trees, continuing in the business twelve successive years. During the first five years he traveled with his men, and always came in at the end of the week with the largest list. This gave his employes confidence in him, and they did their best, his success being due to his ability to lead them and to his excellent knowledge of human nature. He followed but one thing at a time and pushed the tree business with all his might, demonstrating the worth of the old problem, “One thing at a time and that well done.” He sold extensively both in the East and West, doing a business of from $20,000 to $60,000 per year. The trees were bought by large contracts from a Geneva nursery, and he thus made a nice profit each year. On one occasion he delivered $7,300 worth in a day, receiving $6,500 in cash on the first day of delivery.

Feeling the severe strain upon his nervous system which the oversight of so large a business had produced, and having made enough to allow himself the desired rest, Mr. Woodward retired from the business in 1874, investing his means in lands. The following year he busied himself with the erection of the handsome residence which he now occupies, the ground for which was broken the 1st of April. He was constantly on hand to oversee the work until the edifice was completed and ready for occupancy, November 24. The architectural design is Mr. Woodward’s own, and reflects credit upon his taste and judgment. The building is by far the finest residence in Osborn; it is built of brick, is large and conveniently planned, the rooms being commodious and airy and the home furnished in fine style. It was erected at a cost of $10,000, and its value and attractiveness are further enhanced by the beautiful lawn and tasteful adornings which surround it. The library contains a fine selection of books, including the works of the leading authors on literary and scientific topics, and whatever branch may be the favorite, a visitor is sure to find works at his hand which will afford him enjoyment.

Mr. Woodward finds as much occupation as he desires in attending to his farms and other investments. He owns two places in Bath Township, summing up about two hundred acres, and he also owns three hundred and twenty acres in Fremont County, Iowa, near the county seat, the latter piece of property being an improved stock farm. In 1876 he and his wife attended the Centennial Exposition. Their social traits draw around them a large circle of acquaintances and friends, and they find abundant enjoyment in the society thus afforded them, in dispensing the hospitality of their beautiful home and in quiet pursuit of the recreations to which their tastes lead. Mr. Woodward is temperate in all things and never has used tobacco or liquor in any form. In religions views he is a rationalist and agnostic, while his wife is a spiritualist. In politics he is a Republican, but not an active partisan. He belonged to the Republican Central Committee for five years, and has at various times been a delegate to county and State conventions, this being the extent of his political activity. He cast his first vote for John P. Hale. He was a member of the first School Board of Osborn, holding the position fifteen successive years, and having been Clerk when the schoolhouse was built. He was also a member of the first Town Council, and has been a member of the Board for about twenty years, including his entire residence here except two years. He is undoubtedly one of the most influential members, and to his shrewdness and sympathy the taxpayers owe much. As would be naturally supposed, he is interested in the social orders; he is a member of the Free and Accepted Masons, at Osborn, and a member of the Royal Arch Mason lodge, at New Carlisle, and has been a delegate to three different Grand Lodges.

It is needless to multiply words regarding the influence which he possesses and the respect which is felt for him by his fellow-men.

The marriage of Mr. Woodward and Miss Mary C. Sloan took place at the bride’s home, in Wayne Township, Montgomery County, November 10, 1856. The lady whom our subject had chosen as his companion in life was born in Lycoming County, Pa., July 3, 1833, and was but a year old when she came to Ohio with her parents, the entire journey being performed in a one-horse covered wagon. As she grew toward maturity, she received good educational advantages and became well informed in an extended curriculum, while her home and social training was such as to promote in her the fine manners which lend an added charm to cultured womanhood. She began teaching at the age of eighteen years, but not finding the profession to her taste, abandoned it after nine months’ labor.

The father of Mrs. Woodward was Alexander Sloan, who was born in Lebanon County, Pa., in the part that was afterward cut off for the formation of Dauphin County. His father, John Sloan, was also a native of that county, and was of Scotch-Irish descent. He was a farmer, and became well-to-do through his thorough understanding of his occupation. About 1833 he left his native State and located on a farm in Wayne Township, Montgomery County, Ohio. The son followed his father’s occupation successfully, but being a natural mechanic and able to make anything in wood-work, he became a fine cabinet-maker as well as a carpenter and builder. At these occupations he labored at times, also doing coopering on his farm at Jersey Shore, Lycoming County, Pa. In 1834 he also came to Ohio, locating in the township where his father had taken up his abode, and there occupying himself in the pursuit of agriculture, and afterward in money loaning. In addition to his Ohio property, he owned two hundred and forty acres of land in Jay County, Ind. In politics he was a Whig. He was an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

The wife of Alexander Sloan bore the maiden name of Elizabeth Crook and was born in Somersetshire, England. She came to America with her parents when four years old, their settlement being made in Lycoming County, Pa. Her father, Malachi Crook, operated a farm until his death, which was occasioned by the accidental discharge of his gun when he was getting over a fence. Mrs. Elizabeth Sloan died at the home of one of her daughters in Champaign County, Ohio. She belonged to the Methodist Church and was the mother of seven children, five of whom are still living. Elizabeth, who was the first-born, is the wife of the subject of this sketch; James S. is living in Wayne Township, Montgomery County; Elizabeth S. lives with our subject; Lucinda R., Mrs. Powell, lives near Urbana, Champaign County; William H. is a farmer in the same county. Mr. and Mrs. Woodward have never been blessed with any children.

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This family biography is one of the many biographies included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890. 

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