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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Wood

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[This information is from Vol. IV, pp. 1486-1490 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

"Jeremiah Wood was married unto Dority Benett the 29th March 1709," is the first record found of the progenitor of the Wood family of Hoosick Falls, New York, herein recorded. This record is found in Lyme town records, Vol. 2, page 354. According to the tombstone record of Jeremiah Wood he was born in May, 1678. "Dorete" Benett was born May 16, 1688. While the parentage of Jeremiah can be traced no further, we find that his wife, Dorothy, was the granddaughter of Henry Champion, who was born in England in 1611. He came to New England and was one of the first settlers of Saybrook and East Saybrook (Lyme), Connecticut. He married and had five children, the eldest of whom was "Saraw" (Sarah), born in 1649. Herriman, in his "Early Puritan Settlers of Connecticut," [possibly Royal Ralph Hinman, A Catalogue of the Names of the Early Puritan Settlers of the Colony of Connecticut] says: "Few families in the Connecticut Colony have been more prospered than that of Henry Champion." His descendants bore an important part in the revolution, among them Colonel Henry and General Epaphroditus Champion. Henry Champion removed to Lyme many years before his death at great age, February 17, 1708. The papers concerning the final settlement of the estate are on file at the probate office, New London, Connecticut. Among the heirs who signed a paper declaring themselves satisfied with the distribution of the estate, is "Henry Benet."

Sarah Champion, eldest daughter of Henry Champion, married Henry Benett, December 9, 1673. He died in 1726, leaving three sons, and four married daughters. "Dorete," the sixth child and fourth daughter, was born May 19, 1688. A "Deed of Gift" to his daughter "Dorathy" is found among the papers of her husband.

(I) Jeremiah Wood, the American ancestor, married Dorothy (as the name came to be spelled) Benett, March 29, 1709. He lived in Stow, Massachusetts, where his first four children were born; the other eight were born in Littleton, Massachusetts, which may mean that the establishing of the boundaries of the town threw his residence in Littleton. The birth of his daughter Luce is recorded in Stow, the birth of the next in Littleton, and it seems probable that he remained on the same estate from marriage until death. He is styled in his account books and papers a "Weaver," a "Yeoman" and "Gentleman." He was constable, collector, selectman and treasurer at different times of the town of Littleton. He was a member and supporter of the church at Littleton. He purchased his farm from the town, January 13, 1717, a part being still in possession of his descendants. He died July 15, 1730, aged fifty-two years, two months and eight days. His wife Dorothy was appointed administratrix; the estate inventoried one thousand pounds. Dorothy Wood survived her husband twenty-two years and two days. She was left with a large family, but she cared for them and improved the estate left her by her husband. In the inventory of her estate is sixteen barrels of cider and a gold necklace appraised at fourteen pounds. She died July 17, 1752, and was buried in the Littleton churchyard by the side of her husband where gravestones mark the resting place of five generations of their family. Children of Jeremiah and Dorothy (Benett) Wood: Sarah, Elizabeth, Joseph, see forward; Luce, Benett, John, Jeremiah, Sarah (2), Jonathan, Elephalet.

(II) Joseph, eldest son of Jeremiah and Dorothy (Benett) Wood, was born in Stow, Massachusetts, May 22, 1713. He married Grace Whettemore, of Concord, Massachusetts, daughter of Benjamin and Esther (Brooks) Whettemore, and sister of Rev. Aaron Whettemore, for many years minister at Suncook, (now Pembrooke) New Hampshire. He first settled at Littleton where his first child was born. In May, 1738, Joseph and his wife were dismissed from the church at Littleton to the church at Suncook, New Hampshire. The births of some of his children are recorded at Concord, Massachusetts, and Cambridge records show transfers of land. His wife survived him and married (second) Ephraim Stow, of Concord, January 14, 1745, which would place the date of Joseph's death between 1741 and 1744. Children:

  1. Benjamin, born September 17, 1734;
  2. Aaron, see forward;
  3. Grace, born in Concord, Massachusetts, December 1, 1741, married William Wheeler, January 18, 1763.

(III) Aaron, second son of Joseph and Grace (Whettemore) Wood, was born in Suncook, New Hampshire, in 1739. He was a blacksmith. He settled at Pepperell, Massachusetts, upon land bought of Jonas Wheeler, as per record of 1762. He married Rebekah Wheeler; children: Rebecca, Lucy, Halah, Lydia, Grace, Hepzibah, Aaron (2), see forward; Susanna, Benjamin, Joseph, Hannah and Sarah.

(IV) Aaron (2), son of Aaron (1) and Rebekah (Wheeler) Wood, was born at Pepperell, Massachusetts, May 30, 1776, died at Rensselaerville, New York, June 4, 1848. He removed to Mason, New Hampshire, where he resided many years and engaged in trade with marked success. By reason of unwise endorsements he lost heavily and returned to Massachusetts, for a time, from thence removing to Rensselaerville, Albany county, New York, where he made wagons and was among the first to manufacture the celebrated "Jethro Wood" cast iron plow. He carried on a successful manufacturing business, but his greatest success was in training and developing in his machine shops, the founder of a great business, the product of which is adding to the world's comfort and wealth somewhere, every month and week in the year. Like the shot fired at Lexington, the click of the reaper is "heard round the world." Aaron Wood married (first) Eady Curtis, born January 10, 1778, died at Mason, New Hampshire, August 13, 1811. Children: Beckey, Mary, Aaron Curtis, Suky, Benjamin F. and Eady. He married (second) February 2, 1812, Rebeckah Wright, of Westford, Massachusetts. Children:

  1. William Anson, a manufacturer and for fifteen years associated with his brother, Walter A. Wood, as head of a department, later of the William Anson Wood Reaper and Mower Company, of Youngstown, Ohio. He died November 18, 1884. He married Jane Dodge, daughter of Judge Luther Carter, and had two children, Mary Janette, Frank, who married Alice Cranford Thayer, of Hoosick Falls, New York.
  2. Walter Abbott, see forward.
  3. Eliphalet, merchant of Albany, New York, partner of Gaylor Sheldon & Company, later Sheldon & Wood. In 1854 sold his Albany interests and removed to Chicago, where he engaged in the lumber business under the firm name of the Newaygo Company. There he became an exceedingly wealthy and prominent man. He was well known in business and political circles, was nominated for mayor of Chicago in 1860, but declined the honor; was of incalculable value to the government, and the Union cause, through his work on the Union defence committee; was active and liberal in church relation; was trustee and treasurer of the Presbyterian North West Theological Seminary, retaining his interest until 1869, when he retired to Irvington-on-the-Hudson. He associated with the Walter A. Wood Company and was manager of their New York City office. He married Mary J., daughter of Swelton Grant, of Hobart, Delaware county, New York, and had eight children, seven dying in infancy. Caroline Whitely, the only surviving child, married Joseph Ormsby Butter, of Chicago, Illinois, a banker of that city.
  4. Rebeckah Ann, born May 16, 1821, died unmarried February 5, 1851.
  5. Sarah Jane, born March 18, 1823; married E. D. Selden, of Saratoga Springs; no issue.
  6. Harriet Newell, died in infancy.
  7. Susan, died in infancy.
  8. Luther Wright, died at the age of five years.

(V) Walter Abbott, second son of Aaron (2) and Rebeckah (Wright) Wood, was born at Mason, Hillsboro county, New Hampshire, October 23, 1815, died at Hoosick Falls, Rensselaer county, New York, January 15, 1892. He was of a mechanical turn of mind and until he was twenty years of age remained with his father in his wagon and plow manufacturing works, where he became an expert machinist. In 1835 he went to Hoosick Falls and worked at his trade in the machine shops of Parsons & Wilder, where after a few years, having acquired a small capital, he established a like business of his own. He devoted his great mechanical skill and inventive genius to the improvement of the then crude and unsatisfactory farming machinery. The first result of his work was the introduction of the Manny Harvesting Machine with Wood's Improvements, and in the year 1852 over a hundred of these machines were sold. In 1853 he had still further improved the machine, and the sales ran up to five hundred machines that year. He had now convinced the farmer of the great value of his inventions, and half-satisfied himself that they were practical and saleable. He now set about to increase his manufacturing facilities to meet the demand he had created. In 1859 he made and sold six thousand machines for harvesting and mowing; in 1869, 23,000; in 1879, 25,000; in 1884, 48,000. In the meantime other companies had entered the field and the great war of the rival companies was under full headway. Mr. Wood conducted his great and growing business until 1865, when he organized a stock corporation under the laws of the state of New York, and in 1866 began business as the Walter A. Wood Mowing & Reaping Machine Company, with a capital of $2,500,000. Mr. Wood was the first president of the company and the only one up to the date of his death. In 1860 and again in 1890 the entire works were destroyed by fire, but in each case were quickly rebuilt on a greatly enlarged scale. The Wood mowers and reapers were of superior design and construction, and up to the period of consolidation of several of the leading makers, his sales surpassed in volume any single competitor. In field trials and competition events he easily was first and received from county, state, national and international expositions, medals and certificates of first merit and far in excess of any rivals. He developed the foreign trade, established a London office, and sent abroad fifty machines, the first like shipment ever made. They were soon sold and a foreign trade assured. He met all comers in the foreign field as he had at home, and received the highest awards in England, 1861, at Leeds, London. At Paris, in 1876, he took leading rank, receiving the gold medal of honor, also the cross of the chevalier of the Legion of Honor. At the French international field trial, he took first prize against the world. At the Vienna International Exposition in 1873, after a sharp contest, he was awarded the highest prize, the Grand Diploma of Honor, and knighted with the Cross of the Imperial Order of Francis Joseph. It was at this trial that he first brought into the field his celebrated harvester and binder. At the World's Paris Exposition of 1878, he won the highest prize and honor, the prize being "an object of art," the honor consisted of being promoted to "The Cross of an officer of the Legion of Honor." His prizes numbered in 1885 over one thousand five hundred, many of them of great intrinsic value; his home at Hoosick Falls being a veritable museum of rewards of merit. He continued his successful career, and in perhaps the most bitter and costly war ever raged between rival companies, upheld the honor of the Walter A. Wood Company, and fairly fought a winning battle. At last peace settled over the scene, and the efforts of the various companies turned to the legitimate ambition of furnishing the world with American-made harvesting machinery. In this they have succeeded and brought untold wealth to their own country; a white loaf to the countless millions of our own and foreign lands, and everlasting honor and fortune to themselves. In this great work the inventions of Mr. Wood have led, and he may justly be considered not only a benefactor to his own country, but to the entire agricultural world.

During his absence in Europe attending the Paris Exposition in 1878 he was nominated by the Republicans of the seventeenth New York congressional district, composed of Washington and Rensselaer counties, as their candidate for congress. On his return in October, he acceded to the wishes of his friends and accepted the nomination. Although the district had elected a Democrat by five hundred majority the previous election, Mr. Wood was elected to succeed him, by a majority of seven thousand. He was renominated in 1880, and elected by seventeen thousand majority. He served creditably during his four years in congress but expressed no regrets when his term expired, politics being less congenial to him than his business. He was a warm and liberal friend of the church, belonging to the Episcopal denomination, and serving as senior warden of St. Mark's parish, Hoosick Falls, contributing largely to the building of the church edifice and to its support. During the civil war he rendered valuable service, and saw that no soldier's family was in need. At the immense works of his company at Hoosick Falls, a great many hundred men were constantly employed and there existed between them and Mr. Wood the utmost harmony and good will.

He married (first) in 1842, Betsey A., born at Hoosick Falls, New York, June 19, 1821, died May 24, 1867, daughter of Hon. Seth Parsons, of Hoosick Falls. Children:

  1. James S., died at the age of five years;
  2. Lyn P., born April 30, 1850, at Brattleboro, Vermont, died April 22, 1877; married August 28, 1873, Mary E. Jack; child,
    1. Bessie Lyn, born December 20, 1876.

Mr. Wood married (second) September 2, 1868, Lizzie Warren, daughter of Rev. George Huntington Nicholls, rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Hoosick Falls (see Nicholls IX). Children:

  1. Walter Abbott (2), see forward;
  2. Julia Nicholls, born in London, England, June 9, 1874, she was educated at Miss Peebles School for Young Ladies, New York City; married, November 16, 1898, Hugh P. Blackinton, of Massachusetts, now of Hoosick Falls, treasurer of Noble & Wood Machine Company, no issue.

(VI) Walter Abbott (2), only son of Walter Abbott (1) and Lizzie Warren (Nicholls) Wood, was born at Hoosick Falls, New York, January 2, 1871. He prepared for college at St. Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire, and entered Yale University where he was graduated Ph.B., 1892. He traveled in Europe for a year before entering Yale, and after graduation entered his father's business at Hoosick Falls, where he continued four years. For several years thereafter, until 1907, he was not engaged in business. This interval was spent in travel at home and abroad, and in various phases of public political life. He is a director of the Walter A. Wood Company; vice-president of the First National Bank of Hoosick Falls, director of Noble & Wood Machine Company, of which he was one of the founders, and has other and varied business interests. He enlisted in the New York National Guard, was promoted December, 1893, second lieutenant of the Thirty-second Separate Company. and served until 1898. He enlisted for the Spanish-American war as first lieutenant of Company M, Second Regiment, New York Volunteers, and served during the war, was mustered out 1899; was elected captain of the same company, serving until February, 1908, when he resigned. He is an active Republican; served as trustee of the Village Corporation of Hoosick Falls three terms; was supervisor 1904-08, and chairman of the county board, 1907-08. He is a frequent delegate to county and state conventions of his party, and prominent in party councils. He is a member of the Episcopal church and vestrvman of St. Mark's. He has attained the thirty-second degree in Scottish Rite Masonry, and is now (1910) serving his second term as master of Van Rensselaer Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, of Hoosick Falls. He is a member of the Berzelius Society of Yale, and of the Hoosick Club, the Troy Club of Troy, the Graduate of New Haven, and.the University of New York City. He is interested in all that pertains to the welfare of his town; is public-spirited, charitable and a good citizen.

He married, October 6, 1906, Dorothy Leib Harrison, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, daughter of Charles Custis, and Ellen Nixon (Waln) Harrison. Charles Custis Harrison, LL.D., was born in Philadelphia, May 3, 1844, son of George Leib Harrison, LL.D., and Sarah Ann (Waples) Harrison. George Leib Harrison was an honorary graduate of Harvard, where he received his A.M., 1878; was the founder of the Franklin Sugar Refinery; President of Pennsylvania State Board of Charities, trustee of the Protestant Episcopal Divinity School, Philadelphia, and author of works on sociology and philanthropy. Charles Custis Harrison was graduated at University of Pennsylvania, Greek salutatorian, A.B., 1862; A.M., 1865. He was senior partner of Harrison Frazer & Company until the dissolution of that firm. He was elected a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania, 1876; chairman of the committee on ways and means, 1885; acting provost, 1894; provost of the University, 1895, to present time. He was manager of the Protestant Episcopal Hospital; member of American Academy of Political and Social Science; Pennsylvania Historical Society; American Philosophical Society; Numismatic and Antiquarian Society. He endowed the "George Leib Memorial Foundation," of the University of Pennsylvania by a gift of $500,000, and later, in connection with Mrs. Harrison, gave another $250,000 to the general purposes of the University. In 1895 Columbia University conferred LL.D., and Princeton the same, in 1896. He married, in 1870, Ellen Nixon, daughter of Edward Waln, of Philadelphia, and great-granddaughter of Robert Morris.

(The Nicholls Line)

Mrs. Lizzie Warren (Nicholls) Wood was a descendant of that ancient English family of whom Burke says: "The origin of the ancient family of Nicholls has been by antiquarians variously and largely treated upon. It is stated that at the time of Edward the Conqueror, one, Nicholas de Albine, alias Nigell or Nicholl, came over from Normandy and was the common ancestor." The founder in America, from whom Mrs. Wood descends, was Francis Nicholls, born in England before 1600, son of Francis and Margaret (Bruce) Nicholls, and brother of Governor Richard Nicholls, who commanded the British fleet to whom the Dutch surrendered New Amsterdam. He received the surrender of the Dutch authorities, proposed the name New York for the new province, was governor of New York in 1664, and returned to England in 1667. Margaret Bruce was a daughter of Sir George Bruce, of Carnock, Scotland, and tenth in descent from King Robert Bruce, of Scotland. Francis Nicholls came to America prior to 1636, bringing three sons: John, Isaac and Caleb, and a daughter, Mrs. Richard Mills. In 1639 he appears at Stratford, Connecticut, where he died 1650. There is no mention of the first wife, and she is believed to have died in England. Francis was one of the original proprietors of Stratford, Connecticut, and one of the first band of seventeen families to settle there. He was sergeant and captain of "ye Train Bande." His second wife was Anne Wynes, daughter of "Saintly Deacon Barnabas Wynes," born in Wales, who was one of the original proprietors of Southold, Long Island.

(II) Isaac, son of Francis Nicholls, was born in England, 1625, died at Stratford, Connecticut, 1695; was deputy to the general court, 1662-64. He married Margaret ———— and had issue. One of his daughters married Rev. Israel Chauncey, army surgeon during King Philip's war; pastor of the Stratford church, one of the founders of Yale College, and elected its first president.

(III) Isaac (2), son of Isaac (1) and Margaret Nicholls, born in Stratford, died 1690, aged thirty-six years. He married Mary ————, and had issue.

(IV) Richard, son of Isaac (2) and Mary Nicholls, was born in Stratford, November 26, 1678, died September 29, 1756; married, June 3, 1702, Comfort, daughter of Theophilus Sherman, and granddaughter of Hon. Samuel Sherman, ancestor of General William T. Sherman, the famous military genius of the civil war.

(V) Theophilus, son of Richard and Comfort (Sherman) Nicholls, was born in Stratford, March 31, 1803, died April 7, 1774. Magistrate, deputy to forty-one sessions of the Connecticut general court, 1736-72; vestryman of Christ Church, Stratford, 1746-69; built the first store and opened the first trade on the harbor of Bridgeport, Connecticut. He married, January 2, 1732, Sarah, daughter of Lieutenant Ebenezer Curtis, and granddaughter of Captain William Curtis, captain of "such forces as shall be sent from Fairfield county (Connecticut) against the Dutch of New York."

(VI) Philip, son of Theophilus and Sarah (Curtis) Nicholls, was born in Stratford, January 2, 1726, died May 15, 1807. He was captain and chairman of the committee to relieve the suffering poor under the Boston poor bill, 1794; vestryman of Christ Church, 1769-85; first lay delegate from Connecticut to the general convocation of the Protestant Episcopal church. He married (first) Mehitable, daughter of William Peet, who died September 23, 1756; married (second) Mary, daughter of Joseph Prince, and niece of Rev. Thomas Prince, pastor of Old South Church, Boston, 1718-58. "The most assiduous annalist of New England history since the first generation." She was the great-granddaughter of Thomas Hinckley, governor of Massachusetts, 1680-92.

(VII) Charles Theophilus, son of Philip and Mary (Prince) Nicholls, was born at Stratford, Connecticut, July 21, 1771, died at Bridgeport, Connecticut, October 19, 1849. Paymaster of the Fourth Regiment Connecticut Cavalry under General Joseph Walker, July, 1809. Senior Warden of St. John's Church, Bridgeport. Married (first) Sarah Lewis, daughter of Hon. Jabez Huntington Tomlinson, an officer of the continental army; representative and magistrate, and his wife, Mrs. Harriet Heller (Morris) Tomlinson, daughter of Rev. James Heller, a chaplain of the British army during the occupation of New York City. Sarah Lewis (Tomlinson) Nicholls was also a sister of Gideon Tomlinson, governor of Connecticut, 1827-30.

(VIII) Rev. George Huntington Nicholls, only son of Charles T. and Sarah Lewis (Tomlinson) Nicholls, was born at Bridgeport, Connecticut; graduated at Trinity College, 1839; ordained deacon Protestant Episcopal church, 1841; priest, 1842; rector of St. John's Church, Salisbury, Connecticut, 1845; rector of Grace Church, Cherry Valley, New York, 1854; rector St. Mark's Church, Hoosick Falls, New York, 1865; rector-emeritus 1882; Hobart College conferred title of S.T.D., 1886. He married, June 8, 1842, Julia Louisa, daughter of Walter Phelphs, a direct descendant of judge William Phelphs, born in England, settled in Windsor, Connecticut, 1635, and his wife Julia Steel (Beach) Phelphs, a direct descendant of Secretary John Steel, a pioneer of Hartford, Connecticut.

(IX) Lizzie Warren, daughter of Rev. George H. and Julia Louisa (Phelphs) Nicholls, married September 2, 1868, Walter Abbott Wood, Sr., of Hoosick Falls, New York (see Wood V).

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