JAMES E. WOOD. The death of this gentleman, which occurred on June 13, 1891, removed from this county one who had for nearly sixty years been closely connected with its development. Following the occupation of a general farmer, he resided on a fine tract of land in Bunker Hill Township, and was the owner of two hundred and thirty acres which had been improved under his own management. June 16, 1932, marked his arrival in this township and since that time he worked his way to the competency which surrounded his declining years. Some nine seasons were passed on the Mississippi River as a keel boater, and many and strange were by his experiences as a pioneer boatman. By means of this work he gained his first money to purchase land. His first purchase comprised forty acres, bought at a low rate, but he was compelled to borrow the money to pay twenty-five per cent, down, and gave personal security to enable him to effect the purchase. Aside from the time spent upon the Mississippi, he resided upon this farm almost continuously from his arrival here. A hardworking and energetic man, he achieved success financially, and at the time of his decease, was living retired from life's active duties.
Before narrating more fully the various incidents of importance in the life of our subject, we will briefly record the genealogy of the Wood family which began in America in 1755, Samuel Wood was born in Leicestershire, England, May 2 or 3, 1737. He emigrated to America in 1755, and although really unfitted for military service, being a cripple, he went into the army during the Revolutionary War. He was a ripe scholar and was private secretary to President George Washington. He spent most of his life in Loudoun County, Va., but in his later years removed to East Tennessee, and there died full of years and honors. He first married a Miss Robertson, and of that union one daughter, named Mary, was born. This daughter was reared by her grandfather in South Carolina and married James Hendricks.
The second wife of Samuel Wood was known in maidenhood as Sarah Reives, and seven sons were born of the marriage, viz: William, James, Samuel, Thomas, Abram, John and George. William, who was born June 13, 1773, was married in 1814, to Nelly Ryan, and their five children were named as follows: Washington, Eliza, Thomas J., James W., and Mezany. The first wife dying, he afterward married Mary Cargile, and the one son born of this union, William, died January 11, 1851. James Wood, father of our subject, was born October 26, 1774, in Loudoun County, Va., near the falls of the Potomac River. On March 11, 1794, he was united in marriage with Susanna Renfro, a Virginian, who had been reared to womanhood in a fort in Eastern Tennessee, near Knoxville.
Eleven children comprised the family of James and Susanna Wood, namely: William, Sarah, John F., Nancy, Samuel, Thomas, James E., Naomi, David and Abigail. During the War of 1812, the father enlisted under Gen. Harrison, and lost his health while in service as a valiant defender of American rights. His death occurred September 6, 1849. After his marriage he had lived on a farm in Cumberland County, Ky., and all of his children were natives of Kentucky or Tennessee. Finally, accompanied by his wife and eight children, he removed to Illinois, making the trip overland with teams. Their first home was made in June, 1832, on the farm where the subject of this sketch passed almost his entire life.
The father having entered land from the Government in 1831, had his deed signed by President Jackson, and this document is yet in the family, the land having never been transferred except from father to son. Here on that beautiful prairie the father and mother ended their days, the father passing away at the age of seventy-five and the mother when seventy-nine years old. They were members of the old school Baptist Church. He was a strong Democrat. Possessing a retentive memory and being a well read man, he was an interesting conversationalist, and could relate many thrilling reminiscences of pioneer life in the War of 1812.
Another member of Grandfather Wood's family was his namesake, Samuel, who was born March 30, 1777, married Naomi Renfro, and became the father of five children, viz: Mary, William, James, Isaac and Andrew. the fourth son in the grandfather's family was Thomas, born August 25, 1779, in Loudoun County, Va., and married to Mary Bayles, becoming the parent of seven children by this union. In 1779, Grandfather Wood emigrated to Washington County, Tenn., where Abram was born, September 19, 1781. He was married to one Polly Hunt, April 20, 1802, and they had four children. John Wood was born in Washington County, Tenn., September 28, 1783. His wife was known in maidenhood as Sarah Crouch, and a large family of children gathered around their fireside. George Wood was born in Washington County, Tenn., September 10, 1787, married Elizabeth Ervine, and unto them seven children were born.
James E., of this sketch, was the fourth son and fifth child of ten granted to his parents. He and his two brothers, Samuel and D. B., became farmers in this township, and the latter still resides here, Samuel having reached the age of eighty-six. Their parents lived to see five generations of their own family in their house at once. Upon reaching manhood our subject was married to Rose B. Thomas, who was born in St. Clair County, Ill., June 9, 1817. She is the daughter of David and Peggy (Barry) Thomas, the maternal grandfather being Capt. Andrew Barry, of Revolutionary fame. The parents were natives of South Carolina and came North to St. Clair County, Ill., when this State was still a territory. After laboring as pioneers there several years, they sold out and came to Macoupin County, entering land near Plainview, and there dying at the ages of sixty-two and seventy-one respectively. Mrs. Thomas was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Mrs. Wood's paternal grandfather, John Thomas, was a native of Wales, and when a young man came to America, locating in South Carolina, and removing thence with his children to the territory of Illinois. He was elected one of the first Territorial Clerks, when court convened at Kaskaskia, Ill. At an advanced age he died in St. Clair County.
Mrs. Wood was one of the younger of her parents' eight children and is the only one now surviving. She is a woman of character and ability and worthy of the admiration with which she is regarded in the community. She is the mother of four children, only one of whom is living. Charles died when less than twenty-two years old; Alfred K. passed away at the age of thirty-two. He married Amanda Phillips and became the father of one child, Melvina, who did not survive infancy. Abraham D. took to wife Maranda Montgomery, and of their four children two survive - Charles Arthur and Elizabeth. They reside on a farm in this township.
In the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which she is an earnest member, Mrs. Wood finds a broad field for activity. Mr. Wood also belonged to the same church, and was a Democrat in his political views, having cast his first ballot for Jackson and continued to vote that ticket until his demise. Socially, he was identified with the Masonic order. He had a wonderful store of historical information, which had been told to him by his parents, or had been learned by his own researches in this Western country, and these facts and narratives would make a large and interesting volume if compiled.