WILLIAM L. WOOD. - Prominent among the foremost citizens of Kansas City, Kansas, is William L. Wood, a man of talent and culture, and the worthy representative of a distinguished pioneer family. A son of the late Dr. George B. Wood, he was born in what is now Kansas City, Kansas, but was then Wyandotte, Kansas, August 17, 1863.
Born December 25, 1823, in Syracuse, New York, George B. Wood grew to manhood in his native state, and was there educated. In 1849, lured westward by the discovery of gold in California, he followed the emigrant's trail over mountain and plain to the Pacific coast, and there spent some time hunting for the precious metal. Returning home by way of the Isthmus of Panama, he continued the practice of medicine in the Empire state until 1859, when he located as a physician and surgeon in Kansas City, Missouri. A short time later he took up his residence in the old City of Wyandotte, Kansas, now known as Kansas City, Kansas. During the Civil war he offered his services to his country, and served as a surgeon in the army. He subsequently became very active in the affairs of his adopted home, and was very influential in advancing the growth of Wyandotte City. In 1875 and 1876 he and his brother, Luther Wood, built the first street car line in the city, the road extending from Sixth street, on Minnesota avenue, to the state line. Active in public affairs and one of the most noted physicians of the place, he became a leader in matters of importance, and in 1874 served as mayor of the city. In August, 1886, Dr. Wood removed to Altamonte, Florida, where he spent his remaining days, passing to the higher life November 29, 1887. Dr. Wood married Anna Bonham, who was born in Berryville, Clarke county, Virginia, in 1838, and died on the 9th of June, 1910. Of the five children born to Dr. and Mrs. Wood, four are living, as follows: Mamie C., wife of Irwin I. Groff; William L., the special subject of this brief biographical record; and Harry H. and DeWitt, twins.
Acquiring a practical education in the public schools of old Wyandotte and Kansas City, Kansas, William L. Wood began his active career as an employe of his father, being a driver on the street cars. He subsequently spent a year and a half as a cattle herder in Texas, and after his return to Kansas City, Kansas, embarked in the real estate business. Beginning the study of law, he had as instructors J. O. Fife and Harry McGrew, and made such progress that in the spring of 1898, by examination, he was admitted to the bar.
Mr. Wood's chief motive for entering the legal profession was that of righting a wrong done to his father many years before. As far back as 1859 Dr. Wood acquired an interest in two hundred and fifty acres of land lying between the state lines of Kansas and Missouri, obtaining it from Silas Armstrong, Chief of the Wyandotte Indians. In the spring of 1867, either in March or April, the river overflowed its banks, cutting a new channel and leaving seventy-five acres of his tract of land an island. Subsequently the Armour Packing Company, the Fowler Packing Company and the National Water Company, drove piles around the island, diverting the channel so that the waters of the Missouri and Kaw rivers flowed to the north side of the island. Then the packing companies and the water company, with the assistance of the City and the Railroad companies, filled in the old river bed with debris and refuse of all kinds, and took possession of the land. Mr. Wood, knowing of his father's interest in the property, made a business of assembling the facts, and in order to ascertain the legal situation regarding the transaction brought suit against the various parties to reclaim the land, and after a long and stubborn fight in the courts won the case against the defendants.
Fraternally Mr. Wood belongs to Wyandotte Lodge, No. 3, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; to Wyandotte Chapter, No. 6, Royal Arch Masons; to Ivanhoe Commandery, No. 21, Knight Templars; to Caswell Consistory, No. 5; to Ararat Temple, of Kansas City, Missouri; and has the honor of being a thirty-third degree Mason. Politically he is a stanch Republican.
Mr. Wood married, September 28, 1887, Blanche Hudson, who was born in South Charleston, Ohio. Her father, William J. Hudson, a native of England, came to the United States when young and settled in Clark county, Ohio. He served in the Civil war as a member of the Squirrel Rifles, and was afterward engaged in the drug business at South Charleston, Ohio, where he was a citizen of much prominence, serving as justice of the peace, and being elected mayor of the city on the Republican ticket. Mr. Hudson married Virginia C. Freeman, who was born and bred in Ohio, and Mrs. Wood was their only child. Mr. and Mrs. Wood have one child, George H. Wood, a graduate of the Kansas City, Kansas, High School.
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