WOOSTER J. WOODWARD, LEWIS.
Like Sir Condy Rackrent in Miss Edgeworth's glowing tale, the subject of this brief review of a long and useful life has "survived his own wake and overheard the judgement of posterity," and that judgement is altogether in his favor. He is one of the few pioneers of this county yet left to recount the exploits, trials and triumphs of the early days, and as a representative of that fast-fading band is crowned with the veneration of those who are now enjoying the labors of its wise and brave fathers. Yet in no other sense is Mr. Woodward patriarchal; for he is but sixty-two years of age, and is still strong, energetic and enterprising, and is known all over the State as one of this county's most active and far-seeing business men and representative citizens.
Wooster J. Woodward is a native of Trumbull county, Ohio, and was born on January 18, 1844. His parents, Jehu and Jane (Marshall) Woodward (natives of Philadelphia and Mifflin, Pa., respectively), were pioneers in that county, moving there from Lordstown, Ohio, in the early days of their married life. The father was a cabinet maker and farmer. In 1856 he determined to seek again the exhilarating experiences of frontier life, and committed himself and his family to the hazards of a river voyage of several weeks, down the Ohio and up the Mississippi and the Missouri to Council Bluffs. From Council Bluffs they came to Lewis, in this county, and soon afterward the father bought a 300-acre tract of wild land near that town. On this land a rich deposit of valuable sandstone for building purposes was discovered, and for many years it has been a source of revenue to the family and great service to the surrounding country, many of the most important buildings within an extensive territory being constructed of it. The parents passed the remainder of their lives at Lewis, the father dying there in 1899 and the mother in 1894. Of their nine children three sons and four daughters are living, all the sons and one of the daughters being residents of Lewis. The parents were of Quaker ancestry, and while the father was a leading Democrat and took an earnest interest in the welfare of his party, he never held or sought public office, preferring to pay his tribute to his country's needs from the honorable post of private citizenship, in which he had high rank and gave to the community an excellent example and service of great value and usefulness.
Wooster J. Woodward reached manhood from the age of twelve in the town of his present residence. His education was limited to the curriculum of the common schools and the great training academy of daily experience, and he proved himself an adept in the lessons of both. In his youth and early manhood he followed farming until twenty-seven years of age, but he then abandoned it and turned his attention to mercantile pursuits. Purchasing a small stock of groceries, he opened a little store which he conducted for a number of years. He then sold his business and entered the employ of L. O. Reinig as a clerk in that gentleman's general store. He continued to render efficient and satisfactory service as a clerk until 1880, when he was admitted by purchase to a partnership in the establishment, which lasted until the death of Mr. Reinig in 1887, when the business passed into the hands of himself and R. C. Kennedy. A few years later he bought Mr. Kennedy's interest, and since then the house has been known as that of W. J. Woodward & Son.
In 1881 Messrs. Woodward and Kennedy bought the controlling interest in the Bank of Lewis, a private banking institution founded by Mr. Reinig in 1878. Mr. Kennedy was associated with him in the management and ownership of the bank until 1897. He then bought Mr. Kennedy's interest, and until 1904 conducted it in company with W. J. Harris, who also had an interest in it. In the year last mentioned Mr. Harris sold out to Mr. Woodward, who thereupon founded the State Bank of Lewis, of which he has ever since been president. This is an incorporated company with ample capital for its purposes, and is managed with great enterprise, skill and breadth of view. It is one of the well established fiscal institutions of the county, and has a high reputation for the sagacity, prudence and liberality with which its affairs are handled. In 1862 Mr. Woodward enlisted in the Union army as a member of the Twenty-third Iowa Infantry, and served three years or until the close of the war.
In 1870 Wooster J. Woodward was joined in marriage with Bede J. Strong, a native of the State of New York, born in the city of Oneida, who came to Iowa with her parents in her childhood. Of their three children two are living -- W. Theo. and Adolph S. A. S. Woodward conducts a clothing store at Griswold.
The father has been a lifelong Democrat, and for many years has been prominent in the Order of Odd Fellows, being one of the few surviving charter members of his lodge at Lewis. Having passed fifty years in the community of his present home, growing from youth to manhood there, and giving to every public interest his best and most serviceable attention, while promoting his personal fortune by his energy and capacity, the daily life of this estimable citizen is known to all its people, and none among them withholds the tribute of respect which his worth demands. A connecting link between the life of this section of half a century ago and the progressive, electrical activity of today, not only beholding the development of the country from a state of savage wildness but helping to urge it forward, he is an example of ready, resourceful and sturdy manhood to the young, a reminder and an admired survivor of past struggles and trials to the old, and a friend, adviser and stimulus to all.
W. THEO. WOODWARD, the oldest living son of Wooster J. Woodward, was born in Lewis, Iowa, in May, 1874; in 1892 became a part of the firm of Kennedy & Woodward, and is now the "son" in the general merchandise firm of W. J. Woodward & Son. In 1904 he became interested in the State Bank of Lewis, and is the assistant cashier of that institution, as well as one of its directors. He is another of the younger men of the county who has followed in the footsteps of his father and who is worthily carrying his part of the burden of important business responsibilities. He is popular in bank and store and is genial and courteous at all times. In 1894 Mr. Woodward was married to Hannah Porter, a native of Missouri.
From "Compendium and History of Cass County, Iowa." Chicago: Henry and Taylor & Co., 1906, pg. 564-566.