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A Brief History of Henry Wood (1790-1882) By Marilyn Grover

A Brief History of Henry Wood (1790-1882)
By Marilyn Grover

History is made more interesting as we realize that real people acted in roles and experienced difficulties much like our own. These people are even more interesting when we know our relationship to them. Nearly a century has passed since the death of the author’s fifth great grandfather, Henry Wood. Yet there are still many accounts of him and his life extant today.

He was still alive when a history was being written on Summit County, Ohio. His was the first marriage performed in a small community there, and he related this event and others to the author of that county history.1 He was born in Connecticut to Samuel Wood and Betsey Stewart on 9 August 1790.2 This is all that is known about Henry’s birth, since no record of it or of his christening has yet been found. However, the author assumes Henry was born in Cornwall, Litchfield County, Connecticut, partly because his parents were married there.3 Also, two months after Henry’s birth, his father paid none pounds sterling for four acres of land in Cornwall. The record reads that Samuel Wood was “of Cornwall” –meaning he had established residence there.4

The next event of import is Henry’s enlistment in the War of 1812. He enlisted on 22 August 1812 and was discharged six months later. While in the War he was a “fifer.”5

By this time, Henry was nearly twenty-three years old and had probably decided to settle down as soon as possible. Seven months after his discharge he married Esther Cranmer, a daughter of Jeremiah Cranmer, on 22 September 1813, in Hudson, Portage County, Ohio.6 A memorial about Esther states:

Uncle Harry Wood, as he was familiarly called, who married Esther . . . often boasted that he married the “prettiest girl in town.” Very true, as she was the only one of a marriageable age within the radius of ten miles.7

This boast of “Grandpa Harry” is truly a compliment to his wife, rather than a joke, as the second half of the quote seems to indicate. Henry definitely did not supply the information about her being the only one available, for then the statement would not be a “boast.” Henry definitely loved Esther.

Approximately five years after their marriage, Henry and Esther settled in Northfield, Portage County, Ohio. Perrin’s county history states that Henry “was one of the first teachers in a log school house built [in Northfield] . . . in 1818 or 1819.”8 He was also elected town clerk there in 1819.9

Between 1814 and 1836, Henry and Esther had ten children born to them. Family tradition supplies their names and birth dates.

In 1842, “Grandpa Harry” began buying parts of “Lot No. 72” in Northfield –land known as that “of Jeremiah Cranmer, deceased” (his father-in-law). The first of such purchases was on 27 August 1842.10 Henry and Esther must have wanted the land to stay in the family. This act shows in part how important family had become to them.

The names of those in Henry’s household in 1850 and 1860 support this ideal of family devotion. In 1850, Henry’s household consisted of himself (age 60), his wife Esther (age 55), and his daughter Esther (age 7). There was also a Betsey Wood (age 83), and a Lucy Wood (age 50).11 This Betsey must have been Henry’s mother, as he had said his mother’s name was Betsey and she was born 22 August 1768. This birth date made her 82 in 1850, which is close enough, taking into consideration the accuracy of census reports. Lucy must have been his unmarried sister, since Henry had also listed a younger sister by that name.12

Henry cared for his widowed mother, Betsey, until sometime before the 1860 census.13 Lucy stayed with him until sometime after the 1880 census.14 Betsey was with the family approximately ten years and Lucy approximately thirty.

There exists yet another witness of Henry’s involvement with his family. His daughter, Maria, married Chauncey S. Peck before 1841. 15 Twenty years later, Henry and Chauncey (and their wives) appeared in the County Recorder’s Office. At this time Henry and Esther paid Chauncey and Maria $1,000 and deeded to them “37.09 acres” of land in Northfield. In return Chauncey and Maria promised to take care of Henry and Esther for the rest of their days. The North field land would be the Pecks’ property after the death of both Henry and Esther.16 Henry hereby released himself from needing a will and provided for himself and his wife and unusual retirement plan, spending very little in legal fees. This may have been shrewdness on his part, or just caution and economy. In either case, it would require a man of intelligence to think through such a scheme.

Henry and Esther must have instilled quite a love for family in the hearts of their children. For, notwithstanding the difficulty of travel in 1863, their sons Martin and Samuel (ages 45 and 47, respectively) made a visit to their home that year.17 Martin was in Utah on 26 Apr 1863.18 Since the railroad to Utah was not complete until 1869, he probably traveled most of the way to Iowa by wagon. He and Samuel traveled together from Unionburg, Iowa by train.19 They probably missed seeing their mother, Esther, since she died May 1863.20

Another characteristic of “Grandpa Harry” that is well supported in the records is his intelligence. Besides the land lease he drew up with his son-in-law, Henry’s intelligence is indicated by a letter he wrote to President Brigham Young of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Northfield, Summit Co., Ohio
19 October 1870

Mr. B. Young: --Dear Sir.
You may think it rather strange that I, a stranger to you should address you on paper. Well, I saw in the Cleveland Herald of the 15th instant, a few lines, said to have been spoken by you, and as you probably know that every word spoken by a “Mormon” is supposed by some to be false, I write this to satisfy the public that what you said about petrifaction is strictly true, I was brought up within half a dozen miles of Utica and lived there until May 1810, in the township of Frankfort, Herkimer Co., N.Y., within two miles of the lady that I supposed you spoke of, I remember her and her husband well; their names were Eddy. Some years since I saw an account of the circumstance in the Herald. In 1854, I think in June, I was back in that neighborhood, and I inquired about this circumstance; they told me it was true, and that the deceased lady was at Frankfort village, preserved in spirits; and furthermore there is a woman, a relative of mine, who lived there some years after I left. She says, when the woman should have been confined, she was sick, and the proper assistance called in; and after a while she got better; but whether she was ever a well woman after that I can’t say. These are all facts. I write this to show that the “Mormons” can tell the truth.

Yours respectfully,
Henry Wood21

This letter’s purpose is well expressed. It is concise and easy to understand, although the “petrifaction”referred to is a mystery, since the author has been unable to locate the address by Brigham Young. The spelling errors (“petrifaction” may be putrefaction and “Herkiner” is actually spelled Herkimer) may have been the typesetter’s, rather than Henry’s. The punctuation errors were typical of that day.

Another record exists wherein we find information about Henry. Because he applied for bounty land and a pension, we have information that helps prove his integrity. Apparently there was a question of his actual enlistment date in the War of 1812. A discharge paper is in the file, giving his discharge as 22 Feb 1813. His enlistment date needed to be 22 August 1812 or earlier for him to receive bounty land. In 1850, Henry stated under oath that he had served six months in the War. J.D. Cleveland, a Justice of the Peace, in Cleveland, wrote on the same affidavit that Henry was “a reputable witness and known to me to be a person of good standing for truth and veracity. . . “ Two months later the Treasury Department supplied a document stating, “It appears from documents on file in the Office . . . that Henry Wood served from 22 August 1812 - - 22 February 1813.” This incident affirms the honesty of Henry Wood.22

Henry died 14 October 1882 in Northfield, Summit County, Ohio.23 Since he died nearly a century ago, it is difficult to say what kind of a man he was. But a few conclusions may be drawn, nonetheless. From the census repots of 1850 and 1860one can see that he was generous, for he opened his doors to both his unmarried sister and his widowed mother.

Henry must have been not only an intelligent man, but a well educated one for his day, since he taught school and was a town clerk. His land-lease/retirement plan and the well written letter to President Young also show his intelligence.

His love of truth is shown in the letter he wrote to Brigham Young, also, for as he said in his letter, he did not know the President personally, but merely desired to show that “Mormons” can tell the truth. “Grandpa Harry” loved his family, as well. One evidence of his love is the care he gave his mother and sister. Other proofs exist in the visit paid to him by his two sons in 1863 and in the boast about his wife. Although the land-lease with his son-in-law does not prove in itself that Henry loved his family, it seems to indicate that love when combined with the afore-mentioned facts.

Henry was also careful and cautious. Evidence of this exists in the farms he kept in two different localities—Northfield24 and Independence, Ohio,25 which are fifteen miles apart. He knew that the chances of a successful harvest were better when the crops involved were far enough from each other that a frost or other plight might damage one, but hopefully not both. The above-mentioned land-lease in proof that this characteristic of caution ruled throughout his life.

“Grandpa Harry” was a typical man of the nineteenth century, yet many of his experiences were similar to those of men of the twentieth century. He moved quite a distance form his birthplace, served in a war, taught school, read newspapers, farmed his father-in-law’s land, and took care of his widowed mother. As well as having similar experiences, Henry had many characteristics sought by men of this day; honesty, caution, generosity, intelligence, and love of family.


1Perrin, William Henry, History of Summit County Ohio (Chicago; Baskin and Battey, 1881), p. 569.

2Ibid., pp. 954-955.

3Cornwall Town Records (Cornwall, Connecticut; Town Recorder, [n.d.]), vol. 2, p. 22; cited by Lucius B. Barbour and Lucius A. Barbour, comp., in Barbour Collection of Connecticut Vital Records Prior to 1850 (Hartford, Connecticut: [n.p., n.d.] filmed by the Gen Soc of the LDS Church 1949), unpaged.

4Deeds Records, 17 vols., (Cornwall, Connecticut; Town Recorder, [n.d.], filmed by GS, 1948), vol. 6, p. 76.

5Bounty Land Application Files (Washington D.C.: National Archives, [n.d.]), unpaged.

6Portage County Marriages, 16 vols. (Ravenna, Ohio: Probate Court, [n.d.], filmed by GS, 1972, vol. 1, p. 43

7Gertrude Van Rensselaer Wickham, ed., Memorial to the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve, 4 vols., (Published under the auspices of Women’s Department of the Cleveland Centennial Commission, 1896), vol. 3, p. 433.

8Perrin, p. 576. Portage Co. was broken into by the newly formed Summit Co., in 1840. Northfield was then in Summit, rather than Portage Co., Ohio.

9Ibid., p. 570.

10Summit County Deeds, 124 vols. (Akron, Ohio: County Recorders [n.d.]), vol. 18, p. 91-92. Other records of his buying this land are recorded in vol. 18, p. 94-95; vol. 28, p. 274; vol. 40, p. 466-467. He is apparently buying shares of the same piece of land from the various heirs of Jeremiah as all transactions say, “the so. Half of lot #72, known as the land of Jeremiah Cranmer, deceased.”

11Federal Census Report, Summit County, Ohio (Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1850), p. 688.

12Perrin, p. 955.

13Summit Co., Census, 1860, p. 243.

14Summit Co., Census, 1880, p. 302a

15 Summit Co., Census, 1870, p. 317b-318a.

16Summit Co. Deeds, vol.45, p. 252. See also vol. 43, p. 569.

17History of Harrison County, Iowa (Chicago: National, 1891), p. 377.

18Jenson, Andrew, et all., eds. Missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 6 vols. (Salt Lake City; LDS Church Historian’s Office [ca. 1925], vol. 2, unpaged. This also gives a short account of Martin’s missionary experience and hints as to the cause of his death in 1864.

19Harrison Co. History, p. 377.

20Memorial, vol. 3, p. 433

21Deseret Evening News, 28 Oct. 1870, p. 3, col. 1.

22Bounty Land, unpaged

23Records of Deaths (Summit county, Ohio; Court of Common Pleas [n.d.]), vol. 1, p. 198.

24Summit Co., Deeds, vol. 20, p. 388.

25Index to Deeds and Some Mortgages, 1810-1900, 8 vols. (Cleveland, Ohio; Cuyahoga County Recorder, [n.d.], filmed by Reproduction Systems for GS, 1971), vol. 3, unpaged.


Barbour, Lucius B., and Lucius A Barbour, comp. Barbour Collection of Connecticut Vital Records Prior to 1850. Hartford, Connecticut; [n.p., n.d.] filmed by the Gen Soc of the LDS Church 1949.

Bounty Land Application Files. Washington, D.C.; National Archives, [n.d.].

Deeds Records. 17 vols. Cornwall, Connecticut: Town Recorder, [n.d.], filmed by GS, 1948.

Deseret Evening News, 28 October 1870, p. 3, col. 1.

Federal Census Reports, Summit County, Ohio. Washington, National Archives, 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880.

History of Harrison County, Iowa. Chicago: National, 1891

Index to Deeds and Some Mortgages, 1810-1900. 8 vols. Cleveland, Ohio: Cuyahoga County Recorder, [n.d.], filmed by Reproduction Systems for GS, 1971.

Jenson, Andrew, et al., eds. Missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 6 vols. Salt Lake City: LDS Church Historian’s Office [ca.1925].

Perrin, William Henry. History of Summit County [Ohio]. Chicago: Baskin and Battey, 1881.

Portage County Marriages. 16 vols. Ravenna, Ohio: Probate Court, [n.d.], filmed by GS, 1972.

Records of Deaths. Summit County, Ohio: Court of Common Pleas, [n.d.].

Summit County Deeds. 124 vols. Akron, Ohio; County Recorder, [n.d.].

Wickham, Gertrude Van Rensselaer, ed. Memorial to the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserves. 4 vols. Published under the auspices of Women’s Department of the Cleveland Centennial Commission, 1896.

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