Neal E. Wood, of the real estate firm of Georgia and Wood, Pittsburg, Kansas, is a real pioneer and first settler of this prosperous city, and has been identified with its business development since before it was even known on the map as Pittsburg. He has the reputation of being the first merchant of the town, although he was not the proprietor of the store, for he was the clerk and the real manager of the first mercantile house of the town. The oldest inhabitants cannot, therefore, remember a time when Mr. Wood was not connected in some way with the commercial affairs of the city. He has been a witness of the marvelous growth which has resulted in Pittsburg becoming a first-rate city, and that, too, in the period of a quarter of a century; for Mr. Wood is himself yet only in the prime of his life, although he has been here since the inception of the city. He has at all times been public-spirited in relation to the progress and welfare of his adopted city, and has always occupied an honorable place among his business associates and friends.
Mr. Wood was born at South Newberry, Geauga county, Ohio, December 15, 1853, being a son of E. A. and Luciette C. (Bradley) Wood. His father, who was born at Austinburg, Ohio, was a farmer, although he learned and at times followed the trade of carpenter. In 1861 he removed with his family to Mason county, Illinois, and lived there on a farm until the spring of 1868, when he and his family embarked in a covered wagon and drove out west. He stopped at a little town called Neutral City, in Cherokee county, Kansas, about twelve miles southeast of the present city of Pittsburg. A short time later he moved up into Crawford county, locating on a farm two miles northeast of Girard; the county seat. He followed farming for several years in that locality, but his death occurred in California, in 1875. His wife died in Crawford county in 1873.
Mr. Neal E. Wood was reared to farming life, and in the pioneer days and conditions of Kansas life the opportunities for gaining an education were meagre, since the present unexcelled school system of Kansas had not been inaugurated. Nevertheless, by hard and self-sacrificing work, he gained a good education. He completed the regular course in the Girard public schools, and following that was one of the first students in the first county institute established in Crawford county. He entered the institute to prepare himself for teaching, and in this way got the best grade certificate that Crawford county could offer. He engaged in teaching for three or four terms, but then decided to take up the mercantile business. He became a clerk in the grocery store of W. G. Seabury at Girard. In the spring of 1877 Mr. Seabury decided to open up a store in the coal region in the eastern part of Crawford county, the development of the coal mines having just then begun. He and Mr. Wood loaded a stock of goods on wagons and brought them over to where Pittsburg now stands. At that time there were only a few small dwelling houses scattered over the prairie, and the postoffice went by the name of New Pittsburg. Mr. Seabury erected the first store building in the town, on what is now the corner of Fourth and Broadway. Mr. Wood remembers the first transaction made over the counters as being with a little girl, who brought in a basket of eggs and exchanged them for some calico. Mr. Wood remained as a clerk in that establishment for two years, and the old-timers of the city always refer to him as the first merchant. Mr. Seabury is now deceased.
Mr. Wood then engaged in the grocery business with Mr. A. J. Georgia, under the name of Georgia and Wood, and when Mr. Georgia was appointed postmaster of Pittsburg Mr. Wood served as his deputy. For the following five years Mr. Wood represented the Adams Express Company, and for two years was agent for the Pacific Express Company. He then held the office of city assessor for three years, and for the past fifteen years has been successfully engaged in the real estate, loan and insurance business with Mr. Georgia as a partner, the firm being known as Georgia and Wood.
Mr. Wood has been a prominent worker in the Republican party, which has honored him at different times. He is affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, having passed all the chairs of the local lodge and having been a member of the grand lodge of the state. He has also filled all the chairs in the local lodge of the Ancient Order of United Workmen.
Mr. Wood was married at Pittsburg, June 16, 1878, to Miss Edith M. Georgia, a daughter of his business partner, A. J. Georgia. They had two children, Miss Alpha M. and Mr. Georgia N. Wood. Mr. Wood has since been bereft by death of his beloved wife, after a happy union of over a quarter of a century. Of her beautiful character and place in the esteem and affection of those around her let the following memorial speak:
Headquarters Woman's Relief Corps,
Auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic,
Iola, Kansas, June 25th, 1904.
Edith M. Georgia Wood, Past Department President of the Woman's Relief Corps, Department of Kansas, was born November 24th, 1861, in North Liberty, Iowa, and died in Pittsburg, Kansas, June 5th, 1904, at 4:30 p. m.
She came to Pittsburg with her parents when five years old and just at the close of the great war, where she was known but to be loved and honored. Her life was not long, as we count the years, but it was filled to overflowing with good and kindly deeds.
The heartfelt sympathy of this department is extended to the sorrowing husband and children. Their home is left lonely and desolate, without the loving presence of one who has been its guiding star, but her "God was the Lord." May his tender love be "round about them." In memory of her beautiful life and devotion to our order, Corps Presidents will have charters draped for thirty days and will hold "Memorial services" at the last regular meeting in July. Memorial services will also be held for her at the next department convention.
Beautiful Toiler, her work all done;
Beautiful soul into "Glory" gone;
Beautiful life with its crown now won;
God giveth rest.
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