Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Like a majestic interception

I just returned from a meeting with my Vietnam War Memorial committee.  We've hired an artist and he will proceed with a cost proposal. I found a benefactor who will help donate funds. And then there was one awful moment where one of the partners suggested that the memorial only commemorate 14 names instead of the 45 that I researched. (City vs county.) I told my brain to stop thinking. That I would process it later and consider what to do. But then the normally soft-spoken DAR Regent loudly announced that if it didn't include all 45 names that we'd leave the committee and go build our own monument some place else.


via GIPHY




Then I exhaled and realized I hadn't been breathing. I almost cried and hugged her, but I controlled myself.

My book will be published and available to the public by Memorial Day. Then we have plans for a 2nd edition and a website. The monument will be linked to the website with a QR code.

my heroes today



Saturday, April 01, 2017

{genealogy} Wood ancestry part 9 - John Wood, the Mariner

John Wood, Sr.

Heather’s 9th great grandfather

Once again I am grateful to Bertha Winifred Clark, whose research provides this biography for the John Wood I refer to as John Wood, Sr.

We know that John Wood originated from England. He was a mariner based in London, we know from letters written by Governor John Winthrop of Massachusetts and Governor John Winthrop Jr. of Connecticut. We know that he was married and had children in England. But we do not know anything else with certainty of his life before he started working for the New England colonies.

There is record of a John Wood who married Margaret Carter in London, January 1610. But Clark says we have “no real evidence” proving that this was our John Wood who later moved to New England. There of course are many men by the name of John Wood who lived in England at that time. The date and location are about right for our John, and Clark says we do know for certain that John had a daughter named Margaret who was born in England. It makes for a compelling story but we must proceed with caution in stating that Margaret Carter was part of this family line. Here is the marriage record – likely a transcription though I don’t know the age of the transcript. I basically just included it here because it’s pretty.


Close up:

The whole page:


Clark also asserts that it is “probable” that this John Wood family was originally from Gloucestershire before moving to London.

So now let us proceed to what we do know of our John.

In early 1636 John Winthrop Jr. writes a letter to John Winthrop Sr. It is evident from the letter that John Wood, along with one or two of his sons, is working for the Winthrops, sailing back and forth among the colonies, delivering goods. It is clear that John Winthrop Jr. trusts John Wood, even though he references a previous failed voyage. John Winthrop Jr. indicates that he is certain the failure was due to weather and was no fault of John Wood’s. The ships Bachelor and Blessing are mentioned.

Then we know that John Wood returned to London for a short time.

In April 1637 a Francis Kirby of London wrote a letter to John Winthrop Jr. and tells him that he has sent some goods back with John Wood, on the ship Hector. On this ship, John is serving as “master’s mate”.

Clark’s research then goes on to show that in March 1640, John Wood leased a tobacco plantation in New York, near present-day Brooklyn. He did not intend to work the farm, but Clark says all tobacco farms at that time used slave labor. John continued his mariner career while earning from the tobacco plantation on the side. By 1641 John is said to own the plantation outright. It seems that the owner had gotten into some trouble and perhaps faked his own death. At any rate, John has record of owning the land by August 1641, when he sells it. Rhode Island state archives shows that John Wood buys a farm in Newport, Rhode Island. The deed is not dated, but Clark guesses that he bought the farm with the proceeds from the tobacco plantation,  and we may assume by this time that John Wood has decided to permanently relocate from London to Rhode Island, and brings his family over from London.

John Wood starts appearing in dated Newport land and court documents in June 1643.

Massachusetts Bay records has this entry 7 March 1644: The debt of John Wood of twenty pounds is respited for two years in regard of his great losse.

What great loss could this be? Clark tells a story that has no evidence, but compelling analysis. An Indian massacre had occurred in September 1643 on Long Island in a Dutch settlement called Maspeth. This massacre was revenge for a Dutch attack on an Indian settlement earlier that year, in February. The Dutch and Indians had a history of fighting as we previously learned in the Teague biographies. Some Rhode Island settlers, including friends of John Wood’s, had purchased some 13,000 acres at Maspeth, with the permission of the Dutch settlers. Therefore they became victims of this war as well. Clark suggests that John’s “great loss” could have been property and even his wife and a son. I must reiterate that all of this is conjecture, as we do not know when or where John’s wife died or even what her name was. We do not have evidence that he was part of the group that purchased the Maspeth acreage. But we do know that he was involved in many land transactions and that men close to him in Rhode Island were involved in the Maspeth purchase.

In 1645 and 1646 John appears in several court and land records in Newport, Rhode Island. 1646 is the last date where John is referred to as “John Wood of Newport”.

In July 1648 he is named a freeman of Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

An unknown researcher indicated that John’s death occurred on 1 Mar 1655, but Clark was unable to verify this exact date. We do know that he died without a will, and his estate was divided 7 May 1655 by “the councell of the town of Portsmouth”. They reference a “widow and children” and then go on to name many children. A reference to the late wife Elizabeth Wood is given. In context it seems that the word “late” is not the same as “deceased” as we would use it today.

We have to use analysis to determine that Elizabeth is John’s second wife. Clark mentions that Elizabeth later has to testify her age, and from that testimony a birth year of 1613 is derived. This does prove that she could not be the mother of John’s 3 oldest children (at least), including John Jr. of this line.

{genealogy} Wood ancestry part 8 - John Wood, Jr.

John Wood, Jr.


Heather’s 8th great grandfather

Thanks to the research of Bertha Winifred Clark, we know quite a bit about this John Wood, who I will refer to as John Wood, Jr.

He was born around 1620, as he stated in a deposition he made in 1662, and also as derived from his gravestone inscription.

We believe he was born in England, possibly London. He is described as “John Wood, of London” as late as January 1649. He was a mariner, as was his father.

Ms. Clark tells us that we first see John Wood, Jr. in the colonies when he appears in the Aspinwall Notarial Records. William Aspinwall was the public notary in Boston from 1644-1651, and the records he took were published in book form in 1903. The book has since been transcribed on the internet and can easily be found in Google Books and other public domain archives.

If I’m reading and interpreting the notes correctly (which is debatable):


In December 1648, John Wood represented London merchants and a ship called Peregrine. I’m not sure if he was the ship’s captain or just a representative. The ship was to pick up wheat in Boston – I don’t know where the ship was then supposed to take the wheat. But at any rate the Peregrine failed to pick up the wheat at the appointed time, or something like that, so the New England merchants wanted reimbursement.




Aspinwall notarizes a few more exchanges between John Wood and the New England merchants in December and January, but then nothing further is said about the wheat incident. They seem to have worked it out.

Clark writes: “It must have been soon after the 1648/9 Peregrine cargo affair – perhaps even because of it – that John Wood Jr. came with his family to America to live.”

His father had settled in New England before him, and in 1649/50 that gentleman is suddenly referred to as John Wood Sr., telling us that there are now 2 John Woods in the community and there is a need to tell them apart.

John Sr. gave John Jr. land in Newport, Rhode Island.
Ms. Clark writes: “…In spite of his Rhode Island home and citizenship, the years between 1650 and 1663 were for John roving ones. We find him in Connecticut, on Long Island, in Massachusetts, and even in New Hampshire; as well as, intermittently, in Rhode Island, as the items below will show. A strange career his, with checkered lows and highs. Happily, the lows were in his early years, none of them in his later ones.”

Clark says that a later biographical sketch of John (from Southeastern Massachusetts p. 1157) says that John and his brother Thomas were “great hunters and possessed of that hardy adventurous spirit so characteristic of our early pioneers. In search of country where game was plenty, they first came to Seaconnet or there-abouts and soon after to Swansea, where Thomas settled. John, so tradition says, went still farther west into Connecticut – which was a wilderness.”

She goes on to quote New Haven (Connecticut) court records, from 1 April 1651. In this court entry, it tells a convoluted story that winds up something like this. John stole a pig from Mr. Wakeman, killed  the pig, and sold the pork for 36 shillings. John said he was “sorrey”. Mr. Wakeman said he thought the pig was worth 40 shillings. The court ordered John to pay Mr. Wakeman 36 shillings, and to pay the town Treasurer 10 shillings for his lying.

He shows up in Connecticut court records a few more times in 1651-52, over minor incidents, once as a witness. In the court record where he is a witness, he is quoting his wife. So we know he was married in 1652 but the wife is not named.

In 1655 he is back in Rhode Island records, and is on the list of 95 named Newport freemen.

But in summer 1655 he is again in Connecticut, where he sold a mare. This is important, because this sale would end up the subject of a long drawn out court trial that would end up having hearings over the next several years. Similar to the pig incident, John was accused of selling a mare that was not his to sell. The records show that the incident should have been decided by arbitrators, but because “it concerned an absent man”, it went to court trial. We believe the absent man was John, who by the time it went to court, was no longer living in the New Haven area.

1657:  Clark reports that it is likely that he was “living on Long Island (probably at Hempstead) as early as 1657, and that he married a wife named Anna at about that time. We think the wife Anna was not the wife who was living in Milford in the early 1650s, who had probably died – unless she had been deserted, as Anna was soon to be. The marriage with Anna may have been an irregular one…recognized as valid by some, not so by others. It is certain that she called herself wife of John Wood, formerly of Rhode Island, when she indentured their son Jonathan to John Smith; certain, too, that the Governor of New York called her wife of John Wood when he ordered her and her goods to be restored to her husband.”

In summer 1658, John and Anna moved to Springfield, Massachusetts. Clark believes that this is because Quakers had moved to Long Island and were immediately persecuted. Although we do not have record of John ever joining the Quakers, he was definitely in sympathy with them. Many of John’s children and grandchildren became Quakers.

26 Aug 1658 – John and Anna’s son Jonathan is born in Springfield.

But after finding himself fined in court a couple of times, he leaves Springfield in 1660, and this is where Clark reports that he apparently deserts Anna. Anna and baby Jonathan return to Long Island, while John goes back to Newport, Rhode Island with an older son. Other Wood genealogists question the assumption that John deserted Anna. Could it possibly be that she “deserted” him, they ask? Refused to go with him to Rhode Island? Would the Governor of New York order her to be “restored to her husband” if John left Anna?

In 1661-62, John’s name appears on a few land records in the Newport area.

Clark writes, “At about this time, John Wood had connections with the Oyster River, which was then a part of Dover. Dover from 1641 to 1679 was under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Perhaps his maritime interests were what brought him there. Ship-building was a leading industry there, and much lumber was exported. One notes, too, that ‘Quakerism flourished with greater vigor in Dover than in any other town in the province.’” (Dover, N.H., Its History and Industries, pp. 8-13)

In 1663, John marries Mary Peabody of Newport, but the couple travels to Dover to be married.

Clark goes on to report that the next major event in John’s life is a “political situation” relating to the Wood family friendship with the Winthrops of Connecticut (including Governor John Winthrop). A dispute had arisen between the colonies of Rhode Island and Connecticut, over control of some significant land along the Narragansett River. Clark says the dispute would go on for more than 60 years. Now, I personally don’t really comprehend the court records that Clark posts in her research, but earlier in her book she describes John Wood as one of 5 “chief agitators” publicly supporting the idea of the land belonging to the Connecticut colony. Since he was a resident of Rhode Island, this incensed the court there. By 1665 though, John was removed from the feud. The land was temporarily taken under the control of the British crown, probably to shut up the bickering colonies. The dispute was reignited 2 years later, but John is not known to have any part in it then.

Throughout the late 1660s and early 1670s, John’s name shows up in court records in Newport, Rhode Island, serving on various juries, and buying and selling land.

In May 1673, when John was 53, he was elected as a Deputy to the Assembly in Newport. This was a one-year position available to 8-10 men. He was re-elected the 2 following years as well. Clark also doesn’t explain the role, so I located a book on Google books called The Colonial Metamorphoses in Rhode Island: A Study of Institutions in Change by Sydney V. James. According to James, the General Assembly was a legislative body and also sometimes served as a court. He also mentions that the Rhode Island colony had a relatively weak government structure from 1660-1686 (p. 114), exactly at the time that John lived in Newport.

In December 1677 we find that land deed that was referenced in son Henry’s biography.

In the late 1670s and early 1680s John’s name appears in various Rhode Island records for paying taxes and buying and selling land.

On 22 Mar 1687 John Wood’s father-in-law, John Peabody, writes his will. In that will he names his daughter, “Mary Wood”. This document confirms Mary’s first name and maiden name, and that she is still alive and married to John Wood in March 1687. John Peabody was ill, and he dies shortly after and his will is proven 22 June 1687. Incidentally, John Peabody’s will shows he owned one (un-named) slave, so that’s my 2nd known slaveholding ancestor. Peabody’s “moveable” estate is divided into lots, and John/Mary Wood draw the following:


In 1690, when John is 70 years old, he is elected again as Deputy to the Assembly.

14 Nov 1695, John sells some land to his son Thomas. And it’s an interesting document because John names his wife Mary and indicates that she has given her consent to sell the land to Thomas. Both John and Mary sign the document with their marks. Then, on 28 June 1699, John is asked to verify that the 1695 document is legit. And it is fascinating to read that John “and his now wife Mary” acknowledge the accuracy of the document. Clark believes the term “now wife” implies that this Mary of 1699 is not Mary Peabody. Clark believes the new Mary is Mary Hardine, and that she married John in Woodbridge 11 Jan 1697. Other Wood researchers disagree, stating that there would be no reason for a new wife to affirm that the deed from 1695 was accurate.

5 Jan 1702 John appears in another land record, in receipt of 2 more parcels.

26 Aug 1704 is John’s death date, according to his headstone. He is buried with a Mary (unclear if this is Mary Peabody or Mary Hardine, if Mary Hardine exists), and his daughter Margaret (daughter of Mary Peabody). The Newport Historical Society says that the burials are on the Deacon Smith Farm in Middletown, Rhode Island. They report that the John Wood house was near the burial site, but was torn down in 1850 by Deacon John Smith, who was a relative of the Woods. I am not sure if the headstone still exists, but the Newport Historical Society had recorded it as saying that John Wood died 26 Aug 1704, age 84 years. The Mary who is buried next to him had a headstone reading, “Mary wife of John died Jan 24, 1719, age 78 years”.

Clark was unable to find a will or estate settlement, so his exact holdings and surviving children are unknown. She had only been able to definitively prove 10 children, but believed there were others.

{genealogy} Wood ancestry part 7 - Henry Wood

Henry Wood

Heather’s 7th great grandfather

Henry Wood was born as early as 1684, probably in Newport, Rhode Island, the son of Mary Peabody and John Wood. He married Content Thurston on September 14, 1715, in Little Compton, Rhode Island. They had four sons and two daughters during their marriage. He died in March 1758 in Little Compton, at the age of 71.

Unfortunately I am missing the page from Ewers’ research that describes Henry’s documentation, so I am summarizing the research of Ms. Clark instead.

Ms. Clark estimated Henry’s birth year as 1684 based on the fact that he was buying and selling land as early as 1705, which meant he would have been of legal age to buy/sell land by that year. She goes on to say that Mrs. Ewers has records of many land transactions by Henry, in Little Compton, even while Henry was living in Newport.


But his first land transaction is the one that allows us to name his father John Wood who married Mary Peabody. I will paste text from Ms. Clark’s work:


But by 14 September 1715 he has relocated to Little Compton and he marries Content Thurston. They have six children from 1716 to 1733. Son William died young, but the other children survived to adulthood.

Ms. Clark says once Henry gets to L.C., he has a “quiet life”, which I guess means she didn’t find a lot of documents with his name on them.

His will was written 14 Mar 1758, and proved 4 April 1758 (according to Wilbour), so he must have been sick, I think. He names his wife and all five of his surviving children. The two daughters were still living at home at the time of his death. He leaves a generous amount to Content. “…the whole of the house where I now dwell…a piece of land near the house for a garden…great looking glass…one half of pewter and glasses and earthenware…brass warming pan…the best bed…case of drawers…great chest…oval table…my will is that [Henry and Peleg] find and provide for my wife yearly and every year during her widowhood one good milk cow the whole season that cows commonly give milk, and six cords of wood to be brought to the door of the house, and one hundred pounds of good pork, and one hundred pounds of good beef, and fifteen pounds of good sheep’s wool, and fifteen pounds of good flax, and eight bushels of Indian corn, and three bushels of barley, and to pay her yearly as above said the sum of forty pounds…”

“…To son Thomas Wood 1200 pds current money of R.I. tender…To daughters Sarah Wood and Rebeckah Wood 120 pds and the use of the largest room at my house…”

{genealogy} Wood ancestry part 6 - Peleg Wood (b. 1722)

Peleg Wood (b. 1722)

Heather’s 6th great grandfather

When Peleg Wood was born on March 20, 1722, in Little Compton, Rhode Island, his father, Henry, was 35 and his mother, Content, was 30. He married Ruth Shaw on December 18, 1746, in his hometown. They had three children in 10 years. He died in January 1796 in Little Compton, Rhode Island, at the age of 73.

Peleg’s birth date and parentage is confirmed by Rhode Island vital extracts in Little Compton. Peleg is also mention in his father Henry’s will.

The rest of his biography below is entirely the result of the research of Dorothy Wood Ewers.

His profession was “weaver”.

After his marriage in 1746, his daughter Elizabeth was born in October 1747.

His son Reuben was born in 1752.

He was made a Freeman of Little Compton in May 1757. I had to look up what this means. The Wikipedia definition is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeman_(Colonial)

He was a Quaker, a member of the Society of Friends.

His son Abner was born in 1758.

He inherited land from his father. The Little Compton clerk’s records show that Peleg was involved in several land transactions from 1760 through 1793. The records give descriptions of locations, named neighbors, etc.

Peleg wrote his will on 24 Oct 1793. Little Compton probate records have the entire text, which Mrs. Ewers transcribed. I include part of it here: I give to my son Abner Wood the house where he now lives and all my Lands there that I have not before disposed of I give to him, his heirs, and Assigns forever. I give to my wife Ruth Wood the one half of all my household stuff and my Great Bible and that half she shall choose. I give the other half of my household stuff to my two sons Reuben Wood and Abner Wood, equally divided between them. I give to my grandson Peleg Wood one silver spoon marked C.T. I do will and order my son Reuben Wood to find my wife all the necessaries of life suitable for her in sickness and in health if she shall cease to live with him and if not and shall choose to live with my son Abner then to have the use of the Great Room and the Bedroom joining it. I do will and order then my son Reuben to find my said wife yearly and every year two cords of wood cut and delivered at the door and to pay her twenty silver dollars a year and every year so long as she shall remain my widow…I do order my two sons Reuben and Abner to pay that debt that I owe to Rebeckah Wood equally between them.

His daughter Elizabeth died in 1770, which is why she is not mentioned in the will. I do not know who is the Rebeckah Wood that he owes debt to, but he does have a sister by that name. I like that he refers to household “stuff” just as we do today.

Peleg died January 1796 in Little Compton, and his will was proven 3 Feb 1796.


In 1811, his widow Ruth sold some of her land to a Charles Wood.

{genealogy} Wood ancestry part 5 - Reuben Wood

Reuben Wood

Heather’s 5th great grandfather

When Reuben Wood was born on February 20, 1752, in Little Compton, Rhode Island, his father, Peleg, was 29 and his mother, Ruth, was 28. He married Ruth Wilbore on January 21, 1779, in his hometown. They had five children in 11 years. He died in August 1810 in Little Compton, Rhode Island, at the age of 58, and was buried in Rhode Island.

Reuben’s birth date and parentage is confirmed by Rhode Island vital extracts in Little Compton. He is also mentioned in his father Peleg’s will.

On 30 Dec 1773, when he was 21, he married Abigail Brownell. They had one child together (named Peleg), but the baby died young, and so did Abigail.

On 21 Jan 1779, when he was 26, his 2nd marriage took place. His wife was Ruth Wilbour. They had 5 children in this marriage, including the Peleg Wood of the previous biography. Ruth died in September 1793.

On 30 May 1792, he buys some land from his father. In the deed book, his father refers to “son Reuben” as a “weaver” so that is how we learn Reuben’s profession. His father was a weaver as well.

Sometime after 1793 he entered into his 3rd marriage, to Hannah Wilbour.


Ewers research indicates that she believed he served in the Revolutionary War, but I have not found any evidence of this, and she didn’t provide her proof. Reuben’s brother Abner did serve though. Abner was a pensioner, and in his pension record he states that part of his service was to substitute for his brother Reuben, and father Peleg, who both were drafted.

From brother Abner's pension file:




Reuben’s father Peleg has been confirmed to be a Quaker, so it’s likely that Reuben was as well. If he was of the Quaker faith, this could explain why his brother substituted for him in military service. The Rhode Island militia had to draft because of the high number of “Friends” living in that area. I think. That’s my interpretation of a Rhode Island militia act document that I accessed on Library of Congress. I further interpret the document as stating that “Friends” who had certain “certificates” were exempt from the draft, but that many Friends actually had no such documents. So, if I read that right, then I further assume that Reuben and Peleg did not have the required certificates from the Friends Meeting.

Wilbour’s research reproduces text from Reuben’s will, written in 1805 and proved 10 Oct 1810. “…To son Charles all estate both real and personal except as I shall bequeath my wife and daughter. To wife Hannah all household goods she brought with her. To son Peleg 900 dollars. To daughter Sarah household furniture and 20 silver dollars. To son Borden 120 silver dollars at the age of 21. To son Charles to be sole executor. To son William 170 dollars…”

Reuben is buried in the Quaker Cemetery at the Friends Meeting House in Little Compton.


{genealogy} Wood ancestry part 4 - Peleg Wood (b. 1779)

Peleg Wood (b. 1779)

Heather’s 4th great grandfather

When Peleg Wood was born on September 24, 1779, in Little Compton, Rhode Island, his father, Reuben, was 27 and his mother, Ruth, was 21. He had six sons and two daughters with Amy Palmer. He died on October 25, 1848, in Herkimer, New York, at the age of 69, and was buried in German Flatts, New York.

At this point in the Wood biographies I am totally indebted to professional researchers Dorothy Wood Ewers, Benjamin Franklin Wilbour, and Bertha Winifred Clark. Since Peleg’s son Tillinghast eluded documentation so well, I would otherwise have had no idea that Peleg was his father. In this case it was Dorothy Wood Ewers who made the connection between Tillinghast and Peleg, and I am relying on her research because I have found no other evidence of this connection.

There were a lot of men by the name of Peleg Wood who lived in the New England area. At one point I tried to document them all to keep them separate, and my list had 30 Peleg Woods before I abandoned the idea. My point being that although this is an unusual name today, one must not assume that any document mentioning Peleg Wood is “our” Peleg Wood.

Rhode Island Vital Extracts have recorded Peleg’s birth on 24 Sep 1779 to Reuben and Ruth Wood, in Little Compton, Rhode Island.

He married Amy Palmer of Little Compton, but we’re not sure when. Sometime around 1800.

In 1802, Ewers reports that she examined records in the Little Compton Town Clerk’s Office that indicated that Peleg and Amy (husband and wife), well, I can’t understand the language but they either bought or sold land. “Eighteen acres more or less” the book said. It looks like they are the sellers, and they got $370 for it. This makes sense that they’d be selling, since they later move to New York.

I don’t find Peleg in the 1800 or 1810 censuses, but as I said, there are a lot of Peleg Woods in this area. I just don’t know which one he is.

But I do find him in 1820 in German Flatts, New York. There are 9 living in the house. That would be Peleg, Amy, 2 daughters, and 5 sons. This means that one of his sons has passed away by 1820. It’s not Lemuel, Tillinghast, or Peleg Jr. But there were 3 other sons (Ace, Borden, and Reuben). Ewers research doesn’t give birth dates for any of the children so they are hard to research.

I lose him in the 1830 census, but he’s back again in 1840, still in German Flatts. It’s now a family of 4. Peleg, Amy, and 2 sons under age 29.


Peleg died on 25 Oct 1848 and is buried in Dennison’s Corners Cemetery in German Flatts.


The grave marker indicates military service, but I haven’t confirmed it. His name is just too common. Ewers research said “possibly” 1st Lieutenant.

{genealogy} Wood ancestry part 3 - Tillinghast Wood

Tillinghast Wood

Heather’s 3rd great grandfather

When Tillinghast Wood was born in 1803 or 1804 in Rhode Island, his father, Peleg, was 24 and his mother, Amy, was 24. He had two sons and three daughters with Jemima Burlingame between 1825 and 1839. He died on May 24, 1875, in Warren, New York, at the age of 72.

We don’t have an exact birth date for Tillinghast, but the year and place is derived from what he reported in various censuses as an adult. Since early censuses only recorded names of heads of households, we can’t see him named in the census until he becomes a HOH himself. So that’s year 1830.

In 1830 they are living in German Flatts, Herkimer County, New York. I don’t know when he moved from Rhode Island. There are 5 people in the household. Tillinghast and wife Jemima, a man aged 50-59, and 2 little girls. Could the man over age 50 be Tillinghast’s father? I’m not sure, because though father Peleg does live in German Flatts in 1820, and I don’t see him listed as a HOH anywhere in 1830, there’s also Peleg’s wife (Tillinghast’s mother) who is still living in 1830, and she’s missing from the household. So maybe the older man is Jemima’s father. The youngest girl is likely daughter Phoebe Ann, believed to be born in 1830. But there’s an older girl aged 5-9 that either died young or married young, because she disappears from the family by 1840.

In the 1840 census, the family is still living in German Flatts. There are now 6 people in the family. No grandparents or anyone of grandparent age. Just Tillinghast and Jemima, plus 4 children (2 boys and 2 girls). These are the boys and girls that would survive to adulthood. There’s a 4-year gap between son William (born 1832) and daughter Caroline (born 1836), so it is possible another child was born in between those 2 siblings but did not survive.

We see the family named in the 1850 census, and the location is now Warren, Herkimer, New York. There’s a screenshot in son Palmer’s biography. Referring back to Palmer’s biography, we can follow Tillinghast through various documents including that 1868 land map and the 1870 agricultural census.

In 1863, Tillinghast paid income tax of $11.63 while living in New York.

In 1870, Tillinghast owns 92 acres of land, 8 of which is woodland. His land is worth $8000, his tools are worth $200, and he earned $200 in wages the previous year. He owns 2 horses, 13 milch cows, 2 “other cattle”, 8 sheep, and 2 swine. All of his livestock is valued at $1000. For produce, he grows Indian corn, oats, barley, and buckwheat.

According to his headstone, he died on 24 May 1875. The headstone looks to me like it says age 81 years, 10 months, and 12 days, but this is not consistent with his age as he reported it in census records. All the censuses consistently calculate his birth year as either 1803 or 1804.


2 June 1875 – death notice from the Herkimer Democrat



The newspaper reports that he was age 73, which puts his birth year around 1802.






{genealogy} Wood ancestry part 2 - Palmer Melander Wood

Palmer Melander Wood


Heather’s 2nd great grandfather

When Palmer Melander Wood was born on January 18, 1839, in New York, his father, Tillinghast, was 36 and his mother, Jemima, was 39. He married Jennie Mary Ward in 1867 in Herkimer, New York. They had seven children in 15 years. He died on December 18, 1900, in Herkimer, New York, at the age of 61, and was buried in Jordanville, New York. He was a member of the Freemasons, Herkimer Lodge No. 423. He invented and patented a type of bookbinding. He was involved in politics and a number of scandals throughout his life. His innocence or guilt in all of the said scandals was never definitively proven.

There was a Federal census taken in 1840, a year after Palmer was born. But that census only named heads of households. So the first time I find him named with his family is in 1850. In this census he appears by his middle name Melander. The family is living in Warren, Herkimer County, New York.




The family also appears together in the 1855 New York State census, though it’s very faded and hard to read. That census asked for birth counties, and that’s how we know Palmer was born in Herkimer County. In that census he is listed with his first name, Palmer.

In the 1860 Federal census he is still living with the family in Warren. Again he is listed as Melander.

And in the 1865 New York state census, he is Palmer again. Still living in Warren with his parents. In 1865 he is 26 years old, and his occupation is “farmer”.

I don’t have an original source marriage record, but we have an estimate from what he reported in the 1900 census, as well as the fact that oldest son Rinaldo was born in April 1868. It appears that Palmer married Jennie Ward in 1867.


In 1868 he appears as “P.M. Wood” next door to “T. Wood” (his father) in a really cool land ownership map from Warren, Herkimer County, New York. Look for where I circled in red. Also of note are the 2 properties belonging to “A. Ward” who is “2 doors down” so to speak. This is Artemas Ward, who is Jennie Ward’s father. I know this for sure because the names are all spelled out in the 1870 census, only 2 years after this map was published.



I didn’t copy the 1870 population census, but here is the agricultural census also taken in 1870.



You can see Tillinghast Wood’s info on the first row, followed by Palmer Wood. Artemas Ward is at the bottom.

Reading the fine print, we learn that Palmer owns 55 acres of land, 10 of which is woodland. His land is worth $4000, his tools are worth $200, and he earned $200 in wages the previous year. He owns 2 horses, 13 milch cows, 1 “other cattle”, 8 sheep, and 2 swine. All of his livestock is valued at $1000. For produce, he grows oats, barley, and buckwheat.

Here is his family in the 1875 New York state census.


He now has 2 daughters in addition to his son Rinaldo Roscoe. His mother lives with him now, because his father Tillinghast passed away, actually only about a week before this census was recorded.

In 1879 he is nominated to be county clerk. He is reported as (still) living in Warren. This is from the New York Times.


Here is the family in 1880. Palmer’s occupation is “county clerk”. Another daughter has been born. The census location is no longer Warren, but now Herkimer proper, within Herkimer County.


Though I don’t know the address, a distant cousin (Eric Gloo) shared this incredible photo which is probably the home they lived in in 1880. The family is standing on the porch. Could this be 124 Prospect Street where son Ward lived for so many years? This building is certainly large enough to be converted to a duplex. See 2 separate entrances on the front of the building.


And since Palmer is working as a county clerk, I was able to find his signature on a court document. He wrote his title as “clerk of the Supreme Court”, I think.


This photo was probably taken around 1880 as well. (This one was sent to me by cousin Lisa Villiere.)


In 1881 Palmer and Jennie have a daughter Bessie, who dies that same year.

In 1884, son Ward Palmer is born.

In 1885, there is a reference to his farm back in Warren. This news article from The New York Sun indicates that a human skull had been found in the woods on Palmer’s property, presumably those 10 acres of woodland in Warren.


 The New York Times explains that Mr. Druse was murdered in 1884 and that Menzo Elwood lived on the farm at the time. So that seems to indicate that Palmer Wood still owns the property, but is now acting as a landlord.


25 Nov 1887 – The New York Times

In this article we learn that Palmer served as county clerk for 2 terms (roughly 1880-1886). And that after he left this position, he was accused of possibly pocketing up to $5000 in excess fees, which I’m not clear if it was expense report fraud or a sort of embezzlement. This issue would persist for several years. I found a news article referencing this case in 1891, which we will see later.



In April 1887, Palmer applies for a patent for a new type of bookbinding. The patent is awarded in November 1888.

Full text of the patent is here:



In 1888, Palmer’s mother Jemima passes away.

Here’s a rerun of the family portrait that I first put in son Ward Palmer’s biography. Guessing it was taken around 1888 as well.


11 Oct 1891 – The New York Sun
This is an obituary for a lawyer, and just happens to mention The People vs. ex-County Clerk Palmer M. Wood.


The full case text can be found here:

And if I’m reading this case text correctly, this is an appeal which reverses a previous judgement against Palmer. In the original case he was found guilty, but it sounds like he did not get a jury trial. The appellate court determined that he should have either gotten a jury trial or that the state was at fault for paying him the money.


And here’s a repeat photo of the 1892 census (copied from son Ward Palmer’s biography):


Where Palmer’s occupation has changed again, to “coal dealer”.

So then in September 1893 that helps explain this New York Supreme Court case Ehrehart vs. Wood, which was an appeal by Palmer. He was appealing a judgement against him from January 1892 where Mr. Ehrehart says he sold Palmer some coal which I guess Palmer didn’t fully pay for. I think Palmer was arguing that the Herkimer Paper Company was supposed to pay for it. But the judgement went against Palmer and he lost the appeal as well.

There’s also an 1893 map of Mohawk, New York, that names Palmer M. Wood as a “Coal, Wood, and Pipe Dealer”. A copy of the map can be purchased here. http://www.worldmapsonline.com/historicalmaps/1W-NY-MO-1893.htm

Palmer’s business is #9 on the map, but I can’t make the image larger to be able to see it.


18 Nov 1893 – The World (New York) reports that Palmer is a candidate for clerk to the New York State Senate.


A few days later, here’s another report from the same newspaper.


2 Jan 1894, the New York Tribune prints that Palmer has gotten a job as deputy clerk of the Assembly, at a salary of $1600/year.


On 12 Sep 1895, the New York Times reported something about the Herkimer Republican Party, which I don’t really understand, but Palmer is a candidate or delegate that is mentioned.


On 9 Oct 1895 Palmer is in more political hot water. A very lengthy article is published on the front page of the New York Times. It indicates that there’s a place called “The Farm” that is few miles outside of Herkimer city limits. This place is run by a man named Tony Mackin, though Mr. Mackin does not own the property. The newspaper uses a lot of words and descriptions that imply that “The Farm” is a casino/bar/brothel. And evidently Palmer is the landlord. The property was originally owned by a Mr. Tower, and when he passed away the rights went to his son. But son Tower was determined to be insane, and so a “committee” to take over the property was appointed by the New York court system. The committee was only one person – our Palmer M. Wood.  Here is an excerpt from the article.



 Palmer’s involvement in politics while acting as landlord of the questionable establishment is labeled “disgusting” and “hypocrisy”.

Courtesy of cousin Eric Gloo, again. 
As we saw in son Ward’s biography, in 1900 the family was living at 124 North Prospect Street in Herkimer. And remember we learned that in later years this address was a duplex that the family was renting. I wish I knew what happened between that wonderful 1880 photo, and 1900. I wish I knew if the building in the photo is actually 124 North Prospect Street. It’s certainly large enough to be converted to a duplex. Did they sell the building after Palmer died? Or is 124 North Prospect Street a different address altogether.

We can also see from this census that Palmer’s occupation is at a post office. This will be referenced later in his obituary. It happens to be the New York City post office, where he travels from his home in Herkimer. He got this job in March of 1900, as we learn in this news article. His name is in the last line, but I clipped the whole article because it talks about the cashier’s salary ($2600/year) and also the culture of why people preferred post offices over home delivery (in New York).



Early in December 1900, he is “knocked down by a team” (I’m guessing horses) while in New York city. This leads to his death on 18 December 1900.

17 Dec 1900 - The Evening World (New York)

From the Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York.


He was buried in the family plot in Jordanville, New York. (Photo by Lisa Villiere.)


Eric Gloo provided this wonderful letter that had been passed down in his family.



Lisa V. provided this obituary, which I think was printed in the Herkimer Telegram.


It seems Palmer did not leave a will. I found this probate record from July 1903 granting all of Palmer’s “goods” to his widow, Jennie.



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