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Samuel N. Wood

Samuel WoodSamuel Newitt Wood was born December 30, 1825, in Mount Gilead, Ohio. His parents, David and Esther (Mosher) Wood, were Quakers and supported peace, temperance, and antislavery sentiments. His mother was an early advocate of women’s suffrage in Ohio, and a friend of Lucretia Mott.

Wood entered politics early in life. At the age of 19, he was chosen chairman of the "Liberty Party" committee of his county. He married Margaret Walker Lyon on October 3, 1850, in Ohio. He became a law student and was admitted to practice in his county in 1854.

When the Kansas-Nebraska Act was signed in 1854 Wood and his wife went to Kansas in support of abolition. They settled in Wakarusa, where they lived during the time of Bleeding Kansas.  He joined the Free State Party and was a candidate in the first territorial legislature. As early as February 1855 they assisted a fugitive slave on the Underground Railroad who came to Lawrence to escape. Wood was twice arrested by Sheriff Samuel Jones for assisting in a rescue of abolitionists.

Wood served as a Kansas delegate to the national convention in 1856 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when the Republican Party was formed. He was a delegate to the Philadelphia convention when John C. Frémont was nominated as a candidate for the president.

The Wood family moved to Cottonwood Falls in Chase County where he started the county’s first newspaper, the Kansas Press. After moving to Council Grove in Morris County, he operated the Council Grove Press. Wood was elected to the territorial legislature from the combined district of Morris, Chase, and Madison counties. He was elected a member of the first state senate and served as chairman of the judiciary committee. President Abraham Lincoln appointed him collector of customs at Paso Del Norte, Texas, which he declined to enlist in the war.

Wood served as captain of the "Kansas Rangers," Company I, Second Regiment of the Kansas Infantry, which was engaged at Wilson's Creek. He was assigned to "Fremont's Battalion" Missouri troops where he was promoted to lieutenant colonel, fought near Salem, and served in a campaign through Arkansas.

In 1864 Wood again served in the state legislature and in 1866 he was elected state senator. There he introduced the first resolution in favor of suffrage for women. The following year he established the Chase County Banner in which he promoted suffrage for women. In 1867 Wood was appointed judge of the Ninth Judicial District, while raising cattle in Texas from 1869 to 1870. He also edited the Kansas Greenbacker in Emporia from 1878 to 1879 and was editor of the Kansas State Journal  in Topeka. He served as a state legislature in 1876 and 1877, elected speaker of the house in the last session. He was an early director of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway

Wood attempted to establish and promote a town called Woodsdale as county seat of the new Stevens County. After a heated contest, Hugoton was named county seat of Stevens, established in 1886. In 1887 Wood was arrested by vigilantes and taken to the new county seat when a mock trial was held. Found guilty, he and an associate were taken on a buffalo hunt. S. O. Aubrey, a scout and frontiersman, led 24 Woodsdale men to rescue Wood. Aubrey’s men also arrested the Hugoton men who were taken to Garden City and charged with kidnapping. The conflict between the two communities continued. On June 23, 1891, Wood was assassinated by James Brennan, who shot him in the back, then in the face. He is buried in Chase County.

Wood and his wife had four children David, William Lyon, Florence, and Mary Elizabeth.

Entry: Wood, Samuel N.

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: July 2012

Date Modified: April 2015

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