Madness Monday: Thomas Woods

Thomas Woods has been driving me crazy for years.  Thomas Woods in New York is so generic.  Why couldn’t he be Zebediah Schliffenbacher – or some other name that would just jump out at you when you saw it?

I put him waaaaaaayyyyy on the back burner, because I had gotten frustrated and I just simply moved to working on easier lines.

I am really wanting to solve this mystery though and answer some of the questions I have about him.  I will be visiting Lockport, New York (where he lived) in a couple of months.  In preparation for that visit, I have decided that I need to look over what information I have on him and try to come up with a plan of attack.  My time in NY is going to limited and I want to have a clear research plan.

Here is what I know for sure about him:

  • June 1900: He was living in Lockport, NY with his wife Mary and 4 children.  He states his birth date as Sep 1856, that he had been married for 8 years, he was born in England (as were his parents), and he immigrated in 1866.
  • April 1910: He was living in Lockport, NY with his wife Mary and 8 children.  His mother-in-law was also living with them.  It says that he was born in NY and his parents were born in England.
  • Jan 1920: He was still living in Lockport with his wife and 8 kids. It states that he was born in NY and his parents were born in England.
  • Apr 1930: Still in Lockport with his wife and 4 of his kids. Born in NY and parents born in England.
  • 5 Aug 1934: He died in Lockport
  • His obituary was published in the local paper as follows:                                                                                                                                         Aged Lockportian Has Passed Away.  Thomas Woods Was Native Resident and Followed Milling Trade Many Years.
    Thomas Woods, lifelong resident of this city, died of old age infirmities at 8:40 o’clock yesterday morning at his home, 440 Clinton street.  He was in his 75th year.
    Born in this city on Sept. 25, 1859, he was educated in the public schools.  For thirty-five years he was employed by the Thompson Milling Company in Market street.  He retired in 1929.
    Surviving are his widow, Mary Spencer Woods; four daughters, Mrs. Admiral Petty, Mrs. John S. Minnick, Mildred and Ida Woods; and five sons, Ernal, Hobart, Elgie, Albert and Kenneth Woods, all of this city.
  • The funeral will be held Tuesday afternoon at 2 o’clock at the home.  The Rev. Clinton H. Churchill of the Churchill Tabernacle, Buffalo, will officiate.  Burial will be in Cold Springs cemetery.

So, I’m not sure if he was born in Sep 1856 (as the census match up with) or Sep 1859 (which his death certificate states).

His obituary and death certificate state he was born in Lockport, yet the 1900 census says that he was born in England and immigrated in 1866.

His father is listed as Henry Woods.  No mother is listed – did his wife really not know his mother’s name?  That seems odd to me. She must never have know her.

I have searched the census and cemetery records for a Henry Woods and have not found him.

I did however find the following in the 1870 census:  a Thomas Woods, age 14 (that would match with an 1856 birth) born in NY and living in Lockport with a George Hanson (age 60, born in England) and his wife Sarah (age 53, born in England) and a Hannah Woods (age 9, born in NY).  I’m not positive that this is my Thomas, but he definitely fits!

So, was Thomas an orphan?? Did he immigrate from England with his father Henry, who maybe died soon after?  Was he orphaned while still in England and did he immigrate with George and Sarah?  I will have

I have not been able to find him anywhere  in the 1860 or 1880 census.  His obituary stated that he was a “lifelong” resident of Lockport.  If he always lived there, then where is he??

I also do not have a marriage record for him.  According to the 1900 census, they had been married 8 years, putting their marriage date to around 1892.

So, when I head to Lockport this May, I will be searching for the following:

  1. His gravestone in Cold Springs Cemetery.
  2. I will search through the New York State census records (1865 and 1875).
  3. I will look for a marriage record and/or an announcement in the newspaper.
  4. I will try to see if there are any probate or court records for Thomas or his father Henry. If Henry died when Thomas was young and he was left an orphan, would there be any records in the courthouse pertaining to who was granted custody of him?

Any other suggestions as to how I can solve this mystery? I’m hoping that I can make some real progress while I’m in the area!

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