WOOD or WOODS Descendants

contributed by Rick Woods

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William John Woods was born in Ireland on October 26,1840, the son of James Woods and Margaret Shawley.  When William was about 14 years of age in the year  1855, he immigrated to America along with his older brother, Robert (born in 1836).  Other family members were already living in America.  His father is shown to be living in Torrey, Yates County, New York in the 1860 federal census (age 64).  Also in Yates County at this time were William’s older brothers, George (b. abt. 1822) and James (b. abt. 1832), both born in Ireland.
On February 25, 1857, William, age 16, married Elizabeth Sheridan, age 14, in Penn Yan, Yates County, New York.  Elizabeth was born on August 25, 1842 in Penn Yan, the daughter of Philip Sheridan and Bridget (Bridy) M. Shraeder, both born in Ireland.  The Sheridan’s had at least three other known children:

Edward, born in August 1837; 

Laring, about 1840 and

Mary A., about 1844.  

It is believed the Sheridan family immigrated to America from Ireland in the mid-1830’s, after their marriage about the year 1832. Their first known child, Edward, was born in <Oneida Co.>, New York.  All the other siblings were born in Yates County, New York after 1840.

In 1860, William Woods was employed as a day laborer in the town of Torrey, Yates County, New York.  According to information recorded on the federal census, William could not read or write.  It was apparently William who first changed the family name from “WOODS” to “WOOD”.  By dropping the “S” from the name, it gave the appearance that the name was of English origin, vice the old Irish surname it actually
was.  At a time in this country’s history when it was difficult for a poor Irish immigrant to obtain work, the English version helped to gain employment and allowed one to be known as a higher class.  Eventually, all the brothers changed their family name to “WOOD”.
The couple’s first child, Elmer, was born in 1862 in Yates County, New York and by July of 1864 they were on their way to San Francisco, California, taking the ocean route.  Their second child, Herman, (my great-grandfather), was born in San Francisco on January 6, 1865.  After a few years in California, the family returned to New York.  Sometime early in the year 1867 they moved to Michigan and settled on a small farm in Charleston Township in Kalamazoo County, MI.


 In this location the family continued to live and grow for the next 45+ years.  William and Elizabeth’s third child, a daughter named Elizabeth (Libby), was born on June 15, 1867 in Charleston Township.  The remainder of their children were also born at the Wood homestead in Charleston Township; Alice on August 19, 1869; Sarah “Sadie” on March 25, 1871; Ledora "Dora" in 1874, Amy in June 1876; Frank in August 1879 and
William on August 19, 1882.
Elizabeth died at her home in Charleston Township, Kalamazoo County, Michigan, after a brief severe illness and of senile disability on November 3, 1915.  William died of a paralytic stroke on October 6, 1919 in Battle Creek, Calhoun County, Michigan, at the home of his daughter, Elizabeth Henton.  Both William and Elizabeth Wood are buried side-by-side in Roof Cemetery, Lot 77, Charleston Township, Kalamazoo, Michigan.


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