John N. Woods, who resides in Stockton at 135 North Stanislaus street, is one of the most extensive land-owners in San Joaquin county. He is a fine example of the enterprising man who came to this state in the early days and centered his activity in one locality, and by industry and the best of business management built up a solid and permanent success. but the mere record of Mr. Woods' present possessions and prosperity would be of little meaning if the story of how he gained them should be omitted, for back of the present is a long career of hard-wrought victories, of self-denial, of perseverance, and wise and strenuous endeavor with large purposes in view, and from it has emerged the large and broad-minded character and sterling integrity which hosts of friends and acquaintances estimate as Mr. Woods' most enduring honor and reward.

Mr. Woods, who has passed so worthily nearly all the years of his active career in San Joaquin county, is a native of the state of Indiana, born in Fayette county, June 7, 1837, being a son of Johnson and Louisa M. (Estes) Woods, the former a native of Brown county, Ohio, and the latter of Indiana. The Woods ancestry is Welsh, and he is a descendant of one of three brothers who emigrated from Wales to Virginia early in the eighteenth century.

When John N. Woods was three years old his parents moved to Andrew county, Missouri, and became the first settlers of Savannah, the county seat. His father built the first house in that town, and the first white child born in the town was Savannah Woods, who was named after the town. It was in this place that the son John N. was reared, and where he first set his feet upon the road of life and experienced his first hardships. He received his education in the schools of that town, but most of his training has been received in the practical affairs of after life. He was fourteen years old when the death of his father occurred, and as he was the oldest of the family the responsibility of caring for his mother and two brothers and two sisters in large measure devolved upon his shoulders, and right well did he show himself equal to the task. After his father's death he secured a position as clerk in a mercantile establishment in Savannah, and continued in this employment for five years. He next went to Knightstown, Indiana, and became a clerk in the store of Robert Woods and Company, Robert Woods being his uncle, and he remained with this firm until he came out to California in 1857. He was then just twenty years old, and he made the long journey by way of the Isthmus of Panama. He came direct to San Joaquin county, and his first occupation was clerking for his uncle, J. H. Woods, one of the pioneer residents and merchants of Woodbridge. After continuing for eighteen months in this capacity, he went into business for himself, being a member of the general merchandise firm of Porch and Woods, at Woodbridge, which establishment continued until the dissolution of partnership two years later, after which Mr. Woods continued the business alone for a short time.

In the spring of 1858 Mr. Woods located three hundred and twenty acres of government land near Woodbridge, and in 1864 moved onto this and began farming and stock-raising. In 1863 he had brought the rest of the family out to California, consisting of his mother and two brothers. His mother is now in her eighty-fifth year, and makes her home with her son a. J. Woods, in Tulare county. Mr. Woods resided on his ranch until 1877, in which year he became a resident of Stockton, where he has remained ever since. On the three hundred and twenty acres of his original ranch he laid out the village of Acampo, in the northern part of the county, and this has grown to be a very prosperous community and its promotion and development proved an especially profitable enterprise to Mr. Woods.

In 1881 Mr. Woods, in partnership with his brother E. W. S. Woods, purchased what was known as the "Old Buzzard Roost" ranch, in Tulare county, consisting of eighty-five hundred acres of land formerly owned by George Crossmore; and by subsequent purchases they increased this tract to thirteen thousand acres, which they devoted to grain and stock-raising, and which was a large source of revenue during the years of their ownership. In 1888 they disposed of 10,700 acres of the ranch for $375,000, the same having cost them at time of purchase an average of five dollars and fifty cents per acre. In 1888 Mr. Woods and his brother began investing inland on Roberts Island in San Joaquin county, and by purchases made at various times this firm of Woods Brothers has at the present writing eighty-three hundred acres on the island, all of which is reclaimed and under irrigation and among the most productive estates in the county. The brothers also own a ranch of eight hundred acres near Lodi, three hundred acres of which is planted to vineyard, and this is another one of the many profitable enterprises to whcih Mr. Woods has directed his energies in a successful manner. After his removal to Stockton in 1877, Mr. Woods was elected secretary and one of the managers of Grangers' Union, of which Andrew Wolf, of Stockton, was then president. He continued his official connection with the Union for nearly five years, and was identified with much of its work and financial success.

Mr. Woods affiliates with Woodbridge Lodge No. 131, F. & A. M., with Stockton Commandery No. 8, K. T., and is also a member of the Scottish Rite bodies of Masonry. He is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks in Stockton. He is a leading churchman of Stockton, and has been identified with the Methodist Episcopal church South for many years, and during her lifetime his wife was also equally active in the work of that religious society. He has served as steward of the church for many years, and is relied upon as one of the stanchest supporters of the denomination. His political allegiance has always been given to the Democratic party.

December 22, 1864, Mr. Woods married Miss Annie V. Farmer, and their lives ran happily side by side until her death on April 7, 1900. She was a woman of many graces of character and a beneficient influence in home and in the social circles of which she was so prominent a member. she was a native of Missouri, being a daughter of Washington Farmer, late of San Joaquin county and formerly of Missouri. Two daughters were born to Mr. and Mrs. Woods, Jessie L. is the wife of George E. Wilhoit, who is a member of the firm of R. E. Wilhoit and Sons, of Stockton. Mary L. is the wife of A. F. Maher, of Stockton.

Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume I

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

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