Biography of Orpheus S. Woodward, Col.

Col. Orpheus S. Woodward. The career of Colonel Woodward, who is past fourscore and is one of the most honored and respected citizens of Neosho Falls, represents a broad track of useful effort and service, beginning as a teacher, changing to the dangerous occupation as a soldier in the Civil war, subsequently as a rancher, business man, public official in Kansas, where he had lived the greater part of the last half century.

Colonel Woodward was born in Erie County, Pennsylvania, May 1, 1835. The Woodwards were colonial Americans, tracing their original home to England. It is probable that the first point of settlement in America was in Connecticut. Oliver Woodward, grandfather of Colonel Woodward, was born April 12, 1772, lived in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois, and died at Barry, Illinois, about 1847.

Ebenezer Woodward, father of Colonel Woodward, was born in Ohio April 16, 1804. He grew up in his native state, was married in Erie County, Pennsylvania, where he spent many years as a farmer and carpenter, and finally retired to San Diego, California, where he died January 25, 1882. In early life he became a whig, and from that party transferred his allegiance to the republican organization when it came into existence. He was a very active worker in the Methodist Episcopal Church and for many years a pillar in his local society. Ebenezer Woodward married Cornelia Prindle, who was born in Erie County, Pennsylvania, May 31, 1814, and died at Harbor Creek in the same county December 17, 1855. Her children were: Augustus G., who was born May 1, 1833, and is now a retired blacksmith living at Tulare, California. The second in the family is Col. O. S. Woodward. Caroline, born August 4, 1839, married Charles Keller, a rancher at Kaweah, California. Mary Cornelia, born March 23, 1848, was married April 8, 1866, to Robert Cowden, a farmer now deceased, and she now spends her time partly in California and partly in Pennsylvania with her children. Georgia is living at Los Angeles, the widow of John Desmond, a farmer.

Orpheus S. Woodward spent his early life in that interesting and historic section of Northwestern Pennsylvania where he was born. He attended the public schools, also the Waterford Academy and the Northwestern State Normal School at Edinboro, Pennsylvania. His work as a schoolmaster was done through portions of about five years.

In 1861 Colonel Woodward enlisted in the Eighty-third Regiment of Pennsylvania Infantry. The record of that regiment during the war is practically the record of Colonel Woodward’s personal service. He was in nearly all the important battles of the Fifth Army Corps. He was at Antietam, at Fredericksburg, at Chancellorsville, at Gettysburg, the battle of the Wilderness, Gaines Mills, Malvern Hill, and during the hottest of the fighting in the wilderness in May, 1864, he was wounded and being incapacitated for further service was given an honorable discharge in the following September.

At the close of his military career he returned to Waterford, Pennsylvania, and while living there was twice elected a member of the Pennsylvania Legislature, being chosen on the republican ticket. Colonel Woodward came to Kansas in 1868. His first location was at Humboldt, but he soon afterwards located on a ranch in Woodson County and directed its operations for a couple of years. He then came to Neosho Falls, and from the spring of 1870 for eight years was in the hardware business. Colonel Woodward then returned East to Erie, Pennsylvania, and spent three years in that city and in Youngstown, Ohio, but with that exception had been a resident of Neosho Falls for over forty-five years. Since locating there in 1883 he had given his time chiefly to the management of his farms and varied business interests. Colonel Woodward owned a farm of 420 acres near Yates Center and another place of 50 acres on the Neosho River, also in Woodson County. One of the landmarks of Neosho Falls is the Woodward home, situated on five acres of ground at Oak and Eighth streets.

His presence in Neosho Falls had not been without corresponding benefit to the community. For many years he was a member of the school board, served several terms as mayor, and also as a member of the council. He acted several times as master of Tuscan Lodge, No. 82, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and is past commander of Neosho Falls Post, Grand Army of the Republic, and belongs to the military order of the Loyal Legion. During the administration of Governor Humphrey Colonel Woodward served as a member of the Kansas State Senate. He was brevetted brigadier general.

About the time he went into the army Colonel Woodward was happily married at Waterford, Pennsylvania, September 9, 1861, to Miss Marietta Himrod. She was of an old and prominent family of Western Pennsylvania. She was born at Waterford February 12, 1837, and died at Neosho Falls, Kansas, April 11, 1887. Her parents were David and Abigail (Patten) Himrod. Her father died at Waterford, Pennsylvania, November 23, 1877, and her mother at Chicago, Illinois, January 29, 1899. Colonel Woodward had three children. Anna Cornelia presided over the domestic arrangements of Colonel Woodward and is also a very capable business woman and had the supervision of her father’s farm. Kate Abigail, who lives at Pewankee, Wisconsin, is the widow of George Franklin Clark, who followed farming during his lifetime. Mary Alice first married James S. McDonald, a publisher, and is now the wife of Joseph B. Ruff, who is superintendent of a department of the firm of Hirsch-Stein Company at Hammond, Indiana.


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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