Biography of J. C. Woody

J. C. WOODY. The bustling towns, thriving villages and cultivated farms of Christian County, Missouri, have so long been common objects to our sight, that it seems almost beyond belief that we have in our midst an honored citizen, one of those hardy pioneers who saw this county when the settlers were few and far between. J. C. Woody was born in east Tennessee, November 26, 1834, and was only six years of age when he came with his parents, Abraham and Anna (Vaughan) Woody, to this county.

The father and mother were born in Tennessee, married there, and about 1829 started for the Lone Tree State with their family. They intended making the trip by wagon, but when they arrived at a place about two and a half miles from Ozark, Missouri, they camped on the old Antelope trail, and there the mother was taken sick with a fever. Mr. Woody went to Springfield for old Dr. Sheckelford, who told him he would have to stay until she got better. He was advised to locate, and after looking around he selected the farm where our subject now resides and which is known as the Woody Cave Spring farm. He was among the early settlers of the county, and by industry and thrift became quite well to do, owning large tracts of land and many slaves. He became well known all over the county and had many warm friends. His death occurred in May, 1855. The mother was the daughter of Archibald Vaughan, who was also one of the pioneers of this part of the county, as well as an early settler of Kane Hill, Arkansas, and his was one of the seven families murdered when the Wright family was, in 1836. He then left that part of the country and located in Greene County, Missouri, now Christian County, where his death occurred during the war. He was well and favorably known all over the county, and was an old-time Baptist in his belief. Five children were born to his marriage, and Mrs. Woody was third in order of birth. The others were: William, who held the rank of captain during the Rebellion; Greene, who was a resident of this county, is now deceased; Celia, now Mrs. Oliver, of Arkansas, and Malinda, now Mrs. Kelley. Our subject’s parents had twelve children born to their union, six sons and six daughters, as follows: Mary J.; Celia A., wife of James Caves, of this community; James C., subject; William M., who died in Califor-nia in 1862; Fannie, single, died in this county; John H., living in Tulare County, Cal.; Abraham N., was a resident of Ft. Worth, Tex., but died in this county; Sarah T., wife of Capt. Flag, died in this county; Allie E., deceased, was the wife of J. W. Abbott, of this county; Malinda, wife of William Abbott, resides at Sparta, this county; Henry C., resides at Los Angeles, Cal., and Mal-lard F., a prominent man of Texas, but is now residing in Los Angeles, Cal. The parents of these children understood thoroughly all the hardships of pioneer life and contributed their share toward the development of the county.

Mr. Woody was an expert with the rifle and as the country was full of game, time did not hang heavily on his hands. The first night he settled here he shot four turkeys. As might be expected, more attention was given to clearing the farm than to education in those days, and our subject attended school only a few days, in the rude log schoolhouse. Later he obtained a good business education and in 1855 went to California, where he engaged in mining. He also tilled the soil there until 1859, when he returned East, via the Isthmus and New York City. Later he married Miss Rebecca C. Wills, a native of Lee County, Virginia, born in 1839, and the daughter of L. and Elizabeth (Crabtree) Wills, who came to this county about 1843. After marriage, our subject returned to California overland and was five months on the road. He met with many adventures, killed a buffalo while on the journey and at one time was chased by two Indians, having a very narrow escape. Arriving in the Gold State he engaged in mining on his own account, and also tilled the soil there until 1871, when he returned to Missouri, and bought the old home, where he has since resided. He is the owner of 186 acres, having sold off 226 acres, and was one of the large land owners of the county, having at one time 600 acres in one tract. He has given much of his attention to stockraising and made a complete success of this occupation. His place was visited by the Marshfield cyclone and he and family saved their lives by running to the cave.

In 1878 Mr. Woody was elected sheriff of the county and so well did he discharge the duties of that office that he was reelected in 1880. He was an able and most efficient officer. In political matters he is now with the People’s party but was elected to his office by the Greenback party. In his social relations Mr. Woody is a Mason, a member of Ozark Lodge, and holds membership in the Christian Church. He and wife have reared the following children: Alice, single and living with the grandmother at Springfield; Eleanor, also single, is in Springfield; William L., a liveryman of Ozark; Charles C., who is now in California; and Mabel E., who died when twelve years of age. Mrs. Woody is now making her home in Springfield, where she has charge of the “Woody House,” and Mr. Woody is on the farm looking after its interests.



A Reminiscent History of the Ozark Region: comprising a condensed general history, a brief descriptive history of each county, and numerous biographical sketches of prominent citizens of such counties. Chicago: Goodspeed Brothers Publishers. 1894.

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