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It is a saying as true as it is old, that "Death loves a shining mark," and seldom has the fact been more impressively illustrated than in the sudden demise of the late Hon. John H. Wood of Atlantic, whose useful and exemplary life was closed without a moment's warning on Wednesday evening, October 19, 1898. And although Mr. Wood was no longer a young man, but was approaching the limit of human life as fixed by the sacred writer, his sudden summons was none the less a shock to the community, which thereby lost a leading and serviceable citizen, or to the relatives and friends of the deceased, whom it deprived of his wise counsel, genial companionship and stimulating presence.

Mr. Wood was a native of Yorkshire, England, born on January 12, 1834, and the son of William and Nannie (Rhodes) Wood. The father was a manufacturer of woolen fabrics, and emigrated to the United States in 1844, locating one year later at Jacksonville, Ill., where he and his wife ended their days. The son was educated at Illinois College, at Jacksonville, where he and his wife ended their days. The son was educated at Illinois College, at Jacksonville, from which he was graduated in both the English and the classical courses in 1858, at the hear [sic head] of his class and with highest honors. He then entered the banking house of Brown & Elliott, in which he served eight years as clerk and teller. At the end of that period he was chosen cashier of the Farmers National Bank, and in that capacity he rendered faithful and appreciated service for ten years. But while he was successful in the banking business, and adorned that line of activity with abilities of a high order, he did not feel satisfied with it as a life work, and therefore studied law under the direction of Hon. R. W. Mills of Virginia, Ill. In 1879 he took up his residence at Atlantic, and became associated with Isaac Dickerson in the real estate, abstracting and loan business. In 1880 he was admitted to the bar, and from then until his death was in the active practice of his profession, as well as connected in a leading way with many public and private enterprises of a business, social and serviceable character. He was married, in 1862, to Amy Upham, of Jacksonville, Ill., a daughter of Alvah Upham, formerly of Youngstown, Ohio.

Yielding devoted loyalty to the Republican party in politics, Mr. Wood soon rose to a commanding influence in its councils, and for long years was regarded as one of its strongest men in wisdom and energy. Few men equaled him in knowledge of public affairs, or had a keener insight into the trend of events and their significance. While he was in no sense a seeker of the honors or emoluments of public office, he was patriotic and broad-minded in his devotion to the lasting welfare of his county and State, and in several offical and semi-official positions gave the whole weight of his high character, extensive reading and excellent judgment to the guidance and good government of the community. While living in Illinois he was a member of the board of trustees of the Blind Asylum; and in Iowa he was for six years one of the trustees of the State Agricultural College, being chairman of the board for several years; and he also served at times on the City Council of Atlantic. He was scholarly and studious to a remarkable degree, maintaining his interest in the classics and other branches of his college curriculum to the last, and becoming, in addition, master of four modern languages. Loving all that is highest and best in literature, esteeming above price the loftiest morality and a sincere religious feeling, and doing whatever his hand found to do in their defense and expansion, holding to all that is good in his own practice through life, and with a genial and considerate recognition of the same in his fellow men, it was but a just tribute to demonstrated merit that was spoken of him in the public press at the time of his decease: "He was a good man, a foremost citizen, and there rests no shadow on his spotless name."

BEN U. WOOD, son of Hon. John A. Wood, and the present mayor of Atlantic, has the distinction of being probably the youngest mayor in the State of Iowa. He was born at Virginia, Ill., on May 11, 1875, and accompanied his parents to Cass county and the city of Atlantic when he was but four years old. He attended the public schools and the college at Ames. After completing his academic course, he entered the law department of the State University at Iowa City, from which he was graduated in 1897. On his return to Atlantic he entered into business with his father, and when his death deprived him of the latter, he formed a new association in the loan, abstracting and real estate business with C. W. Savery, with whom he is still in partnership. They do a very extensive business, particularly in farm loans.

Mr. Wood has always taken an active and helpful interest in local affairs, rendering valued and valuble [sic valuable] service as a member of the City Council, and so fully demonstrating his fitness to manage the public business of the community that he was elected mayor in the spring of 1905, being but thirty years old at the time. His administration of the important and elevated office has fully justified the faith that was expressed in his election, and, what is rare indeed, has given general satisfaction. Mr. Wood is an excellent business man, a gentleman of high character and a representative of the most progressive and enlightened public spirit. He belongs to the Knights of Pythias, the Order of Elks, and the Masonic order in lodge, chapter, commandery and shrine.

From "Compendium and History of Cass County, Iowa." Chicago: Henry and Taylor & Co., 1906, pp. 560-562.

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