Saturday, January 10, 2015

Nehemiah "King" Wood, Jr. - 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 2, "King"

Nehemiah "King" Wood, Jr., my paternal 5th great grand uncle, was born in 1770 in Rileyville, Virginia, to Nehemiah Wood, Sr., and Abigail Grigsby Wood, my sixth great-grandparents who were both of Virginia.  Though I have been unable to ascertain when and from where the nickname "King" evolved, its use as his nickname is documented in many places.  He is descended from the Wood line tracing back to William Wood, born circa 1350, in North Tawton, Devon, England.

"King" spent his youth living in Virginia and then married Susanna Rader on June 10, 1793, in Shenandoah County.

Nehemiah Wood and Susanna Rader Marriage listed in
the Shenandoah County Marriage Bonds, 1772-1850, page 43.

In 1805, Nehemiah moved his family from Virginia to what became, in 1806, Raccoon Township in Gallia County, Ohio.

Excerpt about Wood Old Homestead.  Taken from the Gallia County, pp. 527-528, section
of Ohio Historic Places Dictionary, Volume 2.

Of note is that 100 freed slaves traveled with the Wood family to "the North" when they moved, and those men and women continued to work for him and live alongside him in Ohio throughout the rest of his life.

In 1805, Nehemiah bought Raccoon Township's first gristmill from Adam Ricabaugh.  In 1907, Walter Wood wrote this about the aforementioned transaction in this way:  "The First grist mill on Raccoon by Adam Ricabaugh in 1803, but was soon sold to Nehemiah Wood who attached to it a sawmill. Carding machine and fulling mill for dressing cloth. It was built at Adamsville."  Then, in 1806, he built a second gristmill nearby that Walter Wood described as being located "one mile and a half below Cora in Perry Township."

Nehemiah rose in prominence in the community; and, in 1819, he was honored to become the first Postmaster of the Woods Mill Post Office in Gallia County, Ohio.

Information on Woods Mill Post Office
courtesy of

In 1820, Nehemiah built the Old Wood Homestead, a federal-style farmhouse constructed from clay bricks manufactured on-site.  The Homestead served as the Wood family home, a stagecoach stop on the stagecoach line from Chillicothe, and an inn.  Additionally, cabins were erected on the Homestead's farm to house the freed slaves that had accompanied him from Virginia and were still working for him.

Photos of the Old Wood Homestead Main Building

On August 7, 1821, he married Jane Doughterty in Gallia County, Ohio.  After Nehemiah's death, Jane married another early Raccoon Township settler named William Ridgeway, as is detailed below.   

William Ridgeway biography mentioning
Nehemiah Wood's marriage to Jane Dougherty
(courtesy of

Nehemiah King Wood died on September 21, 1824, in Gallia County, Ohio, at the age of 54.  He was laid to rest at Watson Cemetery in Raccoon Township.  Upon his death, his sizable estate went into probate in the Ohio state courts, and the estate was not settled until 8 Apr 1825.  At that time, his widow and non-minor children were granted guardianships of the minor children, as well as given parts of the estate; and his outstanding debts were settled.  The eight pages of probate records shown below contain his estate settlement's details.  (Citation:  "Ohio, Probate Records, 1789-1996," images, FamilySearch (,266315701 : accessed 10 January 2015), Gallia > Journals and wills 1824-1831 vol C > images 63-70 of 370; county courthouses, Ohio.)

Nehemiah "King" Wood, Jr.'s legacy has stayed alive in the 20th and 21st centuries.
      In 1938, Nehemiah's last descendant, Harry Wood, sold the Homestead and farm to Rio Grande (pronounced "rye-o grand," allegedly due to Nehemiah's cousin's mispronunciation of the name after reading it in a newspaper) College, now the University of Rio Grande.  The college used the farm as a self-help program, with students working there to pay their expenses and the college operating a daily farm and using much of the food that was raised on the farm.

      In 1953, the Homestead and farm were purchased by Bob Evans of restaurant fame.  He and his family lived there until 1970, and his company still owns the farm, which is now is the Bob Evans corporate museum.
  • On May 3, 1987, one of the previously mentioned cabins on the property was dedicated in honor of Ilo Hurt who lived in it in the early 1940s and was an employee of Bob Evans Farms for 33 years.  That same cabin houses the “Freedom Seekers” exhibit that traces the history of Africans who were captured and brought to this country as slaves and their journey to freedom through text, artifacts and photographs.    
    Ilo and Anna Hurt in the 1940 U.S. Census, rural Gallia County, Ohio
  • Finally, in December 1987, the Homestead was accepted into the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. 
    National Register of Historic Places Plague
    on the Old Wood Homestead

These notable events ensure that this "King" and his contributions will be remembered for generations to come.

©Amy Wood Kelly, 2015 - I am happy to share my genealogical research and writing with others, as well as to help others with their research efforts.  However, please do not reprint this post in full or in part or use excerpts from this post without giving full credit to me, Amy Wood Kelly, as the researcher and author as well as providing the permalink to this post.  Thank you, in advance, for showing respect for my request and the work I put into creating this post.

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