Biography of James Wood

James Wood. Among her valued citizens Kansas can number yet many of her pioneers, not the floating population of her earliest territorial days, but men who came to the state as homeseekers, even before the outbreak of the Civil war. These courageous and resourceful men are universally held in honorable esteem for the great progress made by Kansas was founded upon their hardihood and energy. One of these is found in James Wood, a representative citizen and a substantial farmer of Ogden Township, Riley County.

James Wood was born in England, September 27, 1844, the eldest son of William and Sarah (Jones) Wood. They came to the United States in 1850, accompanied by their three sons, James, Thomas and William. After living about five years in Greenup County, Kentucky, the family moved to La Salle County, Illinois, thence to Kansas, in the fall of 1857. They settled on the present farm of James Wood, in Ogden Township. Three more sons had been added to the family: Edward and Joseph, both of whom were born in Kentucky, and Charles, who was born in Illinois. The mother of James Wood died in 1862 and the father for his second wife chose Mrs. Elizabeth (Busby) Green, who became the mother of two children: Mary Ann and Ellen Elizabeth. After her death William Wood married a third time but there was no issue of that marriage.

From 1860 to 1866 William Wood was engaged in the freighting business, owning his own outfit and operating between Leavenworth and Fort Dodge. After retiring from this strenuous business he was engaged exclusively until his death in 1883, at the age of sixty-three years, in farming in Riley County. He was a man of true worth, of strong force of character, and his business efforts were attended with satisfying success. He was a consistent Christian, a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and was a careful and judicious father and kind and helpful neighbor.

James Wood was but six years of age when his parents came to America and thirteen when they came to Kansas. Children of pioneers had comparatively few educational advantages and James found his time taken up in attending to clearing up his father’s farm while the latter maintained his freighting business. After he was twenty-one years old he embarked in the same business for himself and during the two years in which he was so engaged had some thrilling experiences including two attacks by Indians on him with other freighters. In 1864, at Cow Creek, between Forts Riley and Larned, about 300 Indians opened fire upon the party of freighters which consisted of about 100 men. The fight lasted seven days and resulted in the killing of two of the freighters by the savages. The second attack from the Indians was made at Downer’s Station, on the Smoky Hill River, when the Indians numbered about fifty and the freighters twelve. This was a sharp skirmish and the Indians succeeded in killing one of the party and captured two horses. Mr. Wood finally retired from this dangerous business, one that at the time was an absolute necessity because of lack of other methods of transportation, and then went into the peaceful, if laborious business of farming and stockraising. He has been eminently successful and now owns 640 acres of fine Kansas River valley land, on which are modern improvements including a handsome and commodious residence. Mr. Wood owns additionally 200 acres of ridge land, which he uses for grazing purposes.

Mr. Wood was married April 18, 1880, to Miss Amelia Elizabeth Wood, who is a daughter of Job and Eleanor Jane (Honaker) Wood. She was born in Indiana, January 15, 1859. Her father, who was a brother of the late William Wood, was born in England and came to the United States in 1850. He lived first in Kentucky, then in Illinois and later in Missouri, and came to Kansas in 1873 and settled in Ogden Township, Riley County, where he died when aged sixty years.

Mrs. James Wood is one of a family of twelve children born to her parents and was in her fifteenth year when she came to Kansas and was twenty-one when she was married to Mr. Wood, he being then almost thirty-six years old. Mr. and Mrs. Wood are the parents of the following children: William Harry, Elsie Jane, James Clarence, Charles Henry and Job Elbert and Joseph Albert, twins. Job Elbert, Joseph Albert and Charles and William all live with their parents. James Clarence resides at Junction City and Elsie Jane, who is the wife of I. J. Shockley, a farmer, lives in Riley County.

Although nominally a democrat, Mr. Wood has always felt that he had the right to vote independently when his judgment so prompted him. He has never desired public office for himself but has been the kind of citizen that has assisted good and competent men for positions of responsibility. He has long been identified with the Order of Odd Fellows. Mrs. Wood belongs to the Christian Church. Having spent the larger part of his life in Riley County and been a man of influence and importance in all that makes for good citizenship he has a very wide acquaintance and friends of many years standing.


Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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