Wood family of Bunker Hill Township

The Wood family of Bunker Hill Township traces its beginning to Leicestershire England. Samuel, who later sired seven sons, was born on the 2nd day of May, 1737. His father, William, was a woolcomber and Samuel started a woolcomber apprenticeship with Thomas Jones in 1751. Samuel failed to complete his seven year apprenticeship when he crossed the Atlantic in 1755 to join his brothers, Thomas and John. He sailed on the vessel “Hopewell” which landed in Alexandra, Va. To pay for his passage he may have had to serve with the Colonial troops, since family records state that he was in the service of Col. George Washington and also with General Braddock at Fort Duquesne.

After the peace of 1763, Samuel returned to Virginia where he was employed by some of the large plantation owners of Fairfax and Loudoun Counties. He married Sarah Reives in 1772. During the American Revolution, Samuel Wood, due to his lameness and poor health, could not serve in the military, but he performed patriotic service for his new country by giving his pewter tableware to be melted and made into bullets, and after the battle near Alexandria, he and Sarah nursed the sick and wounded soldiers in their home. Samuel is listed in the DAR patriot index. Samuel and Sarah’s first four sons, William, James, Samuel, and Thomas were born between 1773 and 1779 near the “Great Falls of the Potomac River” in Loudoun County, Va. In 1781, Samuel, Sarah and the four boys moved to Washington county North Carolina, (later to become Washington county, Tennessee). There three more sons, Abraham, John and George were born. Samuel died sometime before August of 1800 as his will was proven then.

William, first son of Samuel

In 1803 William moved his mother and two younger brothers, John and George, to live with him in Cumberland County, Kentucky. Sarah lived with her first son, William, to the age of 91 years, 9 months and 5 days. William served in the State Militia in North Carolina protecting the settlers against the warring Cherokee and Creek Indians. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant on the 10th of October, 1796. For this service he received a military land grant for 100 acres on Cherokee Creek. William was a surveyor by trade and amassed land holdings of more than 1000 acres. He was appointed Sheriff and Justice of the Peace for Cumberland County, Kentucky. In 1808 he was elected a Representative to the Kentucky Legislature from the 38th district. William and his wife, Elinor (Nelly) Ryan stayed in Kentucky and raised their family of six children.

James, second son of Samuel

James, the second son of Samuel, was about six years old when the family moved to the vicinity of Jonesborough, Washington county, NC. At the age of 19 he served as a private in Capt. James Scott’s company in the regiment commanded by Col. Gilbert Christy in the war with the Cherokee Indians. For this service he received a North Carolina land grant for 200 acres on a branch of the Little Limestone Creek. On the 1st of October, 1798 he was commissioned a Lieutenant, by John Sevier the first governor of Tennessee. About that time James and his brother Samuel with their wives moved to Stockton Valley, Cumberland County, Kentucky. James and Susanna Wood were members of the Clear Fork Baptist Church, which was formed in 1802.

During the war of 1812 James was a volunteer private in Capt. William Cross’s company, 7th Regiment, commanded by Col. Joshua Barbee. He was with General Harrison’s army at Detroit during the winter of 1813-1814. In 1831 James applied for land in Section 19, and in 1832 applied for land in Section 30, Bunker Hill Township. James and Susanna Wood are buried at the Wood-Davis Cemetery, in Section 30 on their original land, south of Woodburn. They had 10 children, of which 6 have prolific descendents in our communities. James and Susanna’s descendents are: Coffee, Fuess, De Muzio, Klaus, Crane, Goodnight, Van Doren, Whitfield, Marsh, Mason, Schreier, Welch, Link, Howald, Zarges, Speziale, Turner, Foster, Baird, Stockton, Leggett, Loyd, Lilly, Jones, Enke, Moulton, Elliott, Hurst, Jennings, Gray, Wolffbrandt, Fensterman, Bosomworth, Straube, Freytag, Pickerill, Carpenter, Sawyer, Naeve, Burwell, Chase, Bott, Olmsted, Matlack, Davis, Goodwin, Archibee, Jacobi, Morris, Johnson, Webb, Thyer, Hlafka, Golike, Payne, Bennett, Hill, Schmidt, and many, many Woods.

John Tillman, son of James

James oldest son, John Tillman visited the Bunker Hill-Woodburn area in the early 1820’s. While there he met his cousin Susan Gragg, whom he later married. Upon Johns return to Kentucky he told of the rich soil in Illinois and that land could be obtained from the Government at a reasonable price. By 1830 John Tillmans’ brothers, Thomas Vincent and James E. were established in Illinois. In 1831 one of the earliest school houses was built on John Tillmans land in Section 21. John Tillman and Susan are buried in the Wood-Davis Cemetery.

Samuel, son of James

Samuel and Keziah make their first home close to his parents home on Spring Creek in Cumberland County, Kentucky. Their first six children were born there, the last six in Macoupin county. They joined Samuel's father, James, and brother John Tillman, to move to Illinois. The journey took 34 days with a double yoke of oxen. Samuel entered land in Section 35, Bunker Hill Township. Samuel acquired 320 acres over the years. His first primitive cabin was replaced in 1878 by a large red brick residence, one of the finest dwellings in Macoupin County at that time. This home is presently occupied by wood family descendents, Richard and Lillian Jarden and family. Samuel and Keziah are buried in the Wood-Davis Cemetery.

Thomas Vincent, son of James

In the late 1820's, Thomas and brother James went to Illinois. At their uncle's home, Thomas met Janett Talon and later they were married by Uncle Samuel Wood. Thomas took up 160 acres of Government land in Section 10, Moro Township of Madison County near Ridgley on the Springfield Road. Thomas and Janett had 12 children, all born in Madison County, just south of the home of his Uncle Samuel. Thomas and Janett are buried in the Wood-Davis cemetery.

James E., son of James

When his brother, John Tillman, returned from his first trip to Illinois, James became very interested in the state. In the late 20’s, James and brother Thomas visited their relatives in Madison County. James concluded the advantages were greater in that area than in Kentucky. He stayed and worked nine seasons on the Mississippi River as a keel boater. Many and strange were his experiences as a pioneer boatman, hauling freight on the river. In 1839, James and Rosea Barry Thomas were married in Macoupin County. John Thomas, Rosea's father was elected one of the first clerks in the territorial court at Kaskaskia. Capt. Andrew Barry of Revolutionary War fame was Peggy’s grandfather. James and Rosea were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Woodburn. James and Rosea had 4 children. James and Rosea are buried in the Wood-Davis Cemetery.

Samuel third son of Samuel

Soon after Samuel and Naomi were married, they joined his brother and her sister (James and Susanna (Renfro) Wood) on a journey through the Cumberland Gap into the sparsely settled Stockton Valley in southern Kentucky. Samuel was one of the 13 organizational members of the Clear Fork Baptist Church, constituted in Stockton Valley in April 1802. He was the first appointed deacon and was instructed to “keep a book account of what every person lodges in his hand for the use of the church and of what he lets go out of his hand and also that he pay money belonging to the church out of his hand by order of the church. In 1803 a new road from Indian Creek was make to intersect with the road through “Wood’s Gap” and, in 1813 Samuel was appointed overseer of the Burkesville Road from Robert Davis’ to the county line.

From Kentucky to the Illinois Territory

It is written in the 1879 History of Macoupin County that the first family to settle Macoupin county lived on Coops Creek near the center of Hilyard Township. The Coop family came from Germany and moved to the area in 1815. It appears that the Wood family prospected for land in the area the following year.

After the War of 1812 rumors were rife of the rich soil in the Illinois Territory and several families had migrated, causing Samuel and Naomi to decide to move also. In 1816 they were given a letter of dismission from the Clear Fork Baptist Church. Samuel and Naomi traveled to the Illinois Territory and purchased land in Madison County from Horatio McCray. Soon after their arrival they joined the Canteen Creek Baptist Church and Samuel was called to preach. Samuel died as the result of an accident on the 20th of May, 1850.

Samuel and Naomi are buried in the Canteen Creek Cemetery, which has not been used for many years. They were the parents of 5 children, of which all have left prolific descendents in our community. Some of Samuel and Naomi’s descendents are: Moore, Abbott, Hall, Russell, Goodwin, Shreier, Hale, Wolf, Jarden, Partridge, Harper, Kirkwood, Laurent, Wetzel, Knecht, Morrison, Tilley and many, many Woods. Of these descendents the Jardens, Goodwins, and Kirkwoods lived on land originally entered by their the ancestor Samuel.

Thomas, fourth son of Samuel

Thomas grew up on his fathers farm on Little Limestone Creek in Washington county North Carolina. At 18 he was required to serve in the state militia and was in Capt. William Calvert’s Company. After his military tour he accompanied his brothers to Kentucky. He recorded 200 acres on Spring Creek on the 18th of December, 1798. In January 1802 he signed on as a chain carrier on surveys made by his brother William. When news of the death of his father in 1800 was received, Thomas returned to Tennessee. In January 1802 he joined the Cherokee Creek Baptist Church, Washington County, TN, and among those who joined at the same time was Mary Bayless, who later became his bride. Thomas and Mary lived in Washington County until after the birth of their first child. Then with a letter of dismission from the Church, they joined his older brothers in Kentucky. Mary (Bayless) Wood often told her grandchildren of the trip through the Cumberland Gap. She and their baby son, Jonathan Lucas, rode on a sled made of Poles and drawn by oxen, while Thomas walked, driving and, often leading the beasts over the rough trail. The difficult journey required several weeks.

Thomas and Mary joined the Clear Fork Baptist Church by letter in February 1804. Thomas took an active part and filled in as church clerk when his brother, William was in Frankfort serving in the State Legislature. Thomas was appointed deacon in July 1811. In 1834, Thomas and his neighbors, Ambrose Bramlett and Jacob Billingsley donated 5 and 1/8 acres east of Spring Creek for a school site. Title was given to the “Union School in Cumberland County”.

In a Macoupin Biographical History, it states that Thomas “Loyally assisted General Andrew Jackson in the preparations for the battle of New Orleans in 1815, helping to dig the saltpetre used for the manufacture of the powder which make the old rifles of the Kentucky and Tennessee troops do such effective work". 

In 1834 Thomas went to Illinois to visit his first born son, Jonathan Lucas and his brothers James and Samuel in Madison and Macoupin Counties. While there he bought 160 acres intending to relocate. On returning to Kentucky his boot rubbed a blister on his foot, resulting in blood poisoning that caused his death eight days after returning home. His wife Mary lived for 29 more years. Both are buried in Irwin Cemetery, Albany, Kentucky. They were the parents of 7 children, of which only Jonathon Lucas came to Macoupin County.

Jonathan Lucas, Grandson of Samuel


In March of 1829, Jonathan Lucas and his cousin, Thomas Vincent Wood Sr., Son of James Wood went to Illinois to visit their uncle, Samuel Wood. While there Jonathan Lucas worked as a journeyman wagon maker in Edwardsville. He gave up that trade to attend Shurtleff College in Upper Alton for a year before entering into an eight year contract with a millwright to build large flour mills in central and southern Illinois. Jonathan Lucas applied to the Government for land near Woodburn during his first year in Illinois. Later he acquired more land until he owned about 300 acres. In 1840, he married Aurora Foster, whose brother Oliver would later plat Fosterburg. They were the parents of 5 children. Jonathan and Aurora were members of the Woodburn Baptist Church. Jonathan assisted in organizing the Republican party in his area, going to the first convention. He was one of the first three school trustees in Bunker Hill Township and held several township offices. He also belonged to the State Militia. Jonathan and Aurora are buried in the Woodburn Cemetery. Their descendents in the area include: Elliott, Strohbeck, Swift, Warr, Harrington, Reed, Schuette, Landreth, Redmond, Muffly, Schwallenstecker, Monetti, Rose and Kimmel. Jonathan’s original Government land purchases in Section 17 and Section 20 has always remained in his family's possession.

Abraham (Abram), fifth son of Samuel

Abram and Mary (Polly) Hunt were married in 1802 at Washington County, Tennessee. They moved to Plainview, Il. in 1835 after purchasing Government land. Mary died shortly after the move to Illinois. After Mary’s death, Abram moved back to Kentucky to be near family and friends in Simpson County. In 1844, the widowed Abram moved to Woodburn to live with his daughter, Martha Custis Wood, and her young daughter, Elizabeth Mary. He and his wife Mary are buried in the Wood-Davis Cemetery.

John and George, sixth and seventh sons of Samuel

John and George never immigrated to Illinois.

Interesting Wood Notes

More than 50 original tracts of land were entered in Macoupin and Madison counties by Wood family members. 1820-1850

The Wood family reunion in Bunker Hill, Illinois meets annually at the American Legion Post #378, the second Saturday in August at 10:00 AM. The 2007 reunion will be the 36th annual reunion. Other Wood family reunions are held annually in Albany, KY, Lebanon, TN, and Stigler, OK.

To contact the Wood family: April Blount, 618-278-4215 or Ollie Schwallenstecker, 618-278-4792, e-mail address: judyollie@frontiernet.net

Much information for this “Historical Vignette” was found in the book “Samuel Wood” written by William L. & Vera Wood and Ruby M. Whitaker Buck. L of Congress #88-051660