My Wood ancestry means a lot to me. My Grandmother Braddock was a Wood. After her son—my father—died in 1935 when I was five, my brother and I lived with her for a few years in Jacksonville, Florida. The loving kindness shown to my brother and me by her and four of her brothers and sisters and their families, all of whom lived within five blocks of my grandmother, helped sustain us through a tough part of our young lives. Researching my Wood ancestry is one of my earliest undertakings after getting hooked on genealogy in 1990. I quickly found that a cousin I knew as a child, Annie Wood Taylor, had compiled a genealogy tracing our ancestry back to Thomas Wood and his wife Mary, last name unknown, both of whom were born in the late 1700s. Annie found record of ten children for them: Phoebe T., Lauring L. , Louise M., Daniel A., Lucretia Ellen, William Lewis, Thomas Russell, Washington M., Martha E., and Ann L. Several other of my contemporary Wood cousins generously furnished information of our limb of the Wood tree, descendants of William Lewis Wood. 




Jay Odom, a descendant of Thomas Russell Wood, sent me the photo to the right of Daniel A., William Lewis, and Thomas Russell.

As I am descended from William Lewis Wood, all that follows is of his limb of the tree and his wife Elizabeth Jane Pendley. She was daughter of John and Jane Pendley. William and Elizabeth had eleven children: William Rufus, Mary Jane, Martha F., Louise, Laura, Ella, Elizabeth Mariah,  John T., Daniel A., Carrie A., and Lilla O.

The July 16, 2006 issue of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an article about a Bible taken from a home in Decatur by Yankee soldier 140 years earlier being returned to the DeKalb Historical Society in Decatur. The article read as follows:

Angel returns stolen Bible from Civil War-era

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 07/16/06

The simple inscription is noted in perfect cursive writing across an opening page of the old leather-bound Bible — now returned home after more than 140 years in Yankee captivity.

Photos by:  


Family histories from the Civil War era and later were recorded in a Bible that was taken from a Georgia home during the Battle of Decatur. The Bible has been given to the DeKalb History Center after a Colorado man came across it.

The "capturer" was a Union soldier named Amariah Spencer, who snatched the Bible from the home of a local tanner named William Wood during the Battle of Decatur.

Spencer took the Bible home to Ohio , where it remained until his son took it and moved to Colorado . Over the years, the Bible's existence and its Georgia origins seemed lost in history.

Then, by chance, the book made its way back to Georgia .

A month ago, Ann Earle, a historian at the DeKalb History Center , got a call from Howard Winsor, a retired banker in Rocky Ford, Colo.

"He said he had a Bible that he wanted to send us. I said fine."

That call from Winsor led to the Bible's return. Officials at the History Center are preparing it for display as part of the center's extensive collection of Civil War memorabilia.

It took a little detective work to piece together the Bible's story, a tale of North and South unexpectedly brought together.

Wood and Spencer probably never actually met, but their families were bound by the purloined Bible for decades. On pages reserved for weddings, births and deaths, the histories of both families — the Woods and the Spencers — are meticulously documented.

Confederate on the left.

Union on the right.

Howard Winsor, 86, didn't know much about the book he got 63 years ago while cleaning out the house of one of Amariah Spencer's sons.

"All I know is what was written in that Bible," Winsor said.

The inscription also intrigued Ann Earle of the DeKalb History Center .

"Captured," Earle said. "I think 'stolen.' "

In July 1864, Union soldiers descended upon Decatur as the army of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman marched to Atlanta . In the ensuing skirmish, the Battle of Decatur, more than 100 Confederate soldiers were killed and 225 taken prisoner in less than two hours on July 22.

But even before the battle, residents began fleeing Decatur , dropping the population from 7,000 to 600.

The Wood family could have been among those who fled.

By 1870, the family — now with nine children — was living in Jonesboro. It is unclear where the family actually lived in 1864. But Wood was listed as a tanner, and there was a tannery in downtown Decatur at the time.

The Wood house, perhaps abandoned, would have been an inviting target for the looting Union army. Soldiers would generally go into homes and "capture" whatever they needed or wanted, Earle said.

Spencer, who was likely a member of the Army of Ohio, ended up with the Wood Bible.

Published in 1854 by T.K. Collins Jr., out of Philadelphia , the Bible is bound in brown leather and features ornate stitching and detailed etchings throughout.

"This would have been a very expensive Bible at the time," said Sue Ellen Williams, executive director of the DeKalb History Center .

The Bible chronicles the lives of both families. There is a notation from William Wood that he and Elizabeth Pendley married on Dec. 23, 1845.

At the time the Bible was taken, Wood had recorded the births of eight of his children, from William R. in 1846 to John in 1859.

Amariah Spencer listed when he married Priscilla and when his two sons, Horace and Wilbur, were born.

"It became his family Bible and he used it," Earle said.

Also inside were two letters to Spencer, sent in July and August 1864 while he was still a Union soldier.

"Daniel Spencer is dead and being brought home for burial witch (sic) will take place about next Sunday," began a July 6 letter from a W.B. Russell. "The one hundred day men will be home in 20 days if they don't all die."

Howard Winsor said that, at some point, Amariah Spencer's son, Wilbur, moved to Rocky Ford to work in the sugar industry, bringing the family Bible with him.

In 1943, Wilbur died at the age of 76. Winsor, who worked at a bank, was assigned to help clean out Wilbur's home. Winsor, who was only 23 then, said one family member came and got a few things, but he had to clean up and get rid of the rest of the stuff. Wilbur's wife, Josie, according to the Bible, died in 1936 and the two had no children. "I noticed the Bible and, at the time, I had became interested in genealogy, so I kept it," said Winsor, adding that he was an acquaintance of Wilbur's at the time.

Having the Bible for seven decades, no one would dispute Winsor's claim of it. But he never felt it was his. He kept it in an old box in his garage. Then, 63 years later, when Winsor decided to clean out his garage, he found the old Bible. He called Earle. "I hate to see anything thrown away," he said. Winsor never wrote in the Bible, choosing not to add his family history to that of the Woods and the Spencers. "It didn't feel right to do that," Winsor said.

Winsor did however, provide the closing chapter in the Bible's family saga, when he wrote in fine ink, "Wilbur Spencer. Died Dec. 20, 1943."


Upon seeing the article I contacted the DeKalb Historical Society and was able to obtain several photos of the Bible and some of its pages. Below are two of the pages containing vital statistics.

The marriage of William Lewis Wood and Elizabeth Jane Pendley is listed in the left column of the above page. Marriages in the right column were entered by the Yankee soldier who took the Bible. Birth information for William, Elizabeth, and eight of their eleven children are listed on the above page. Births of Daniel A., Carrie, A., and Lilla O. are not listed, probably because they were born after the Bible was taken. The soldier who took the Bible listed the births of himself, his wife, and two children on another page of the Bible.

As I am descended from William Lewis' son William Rufus, all that follows is of him and his descendants. William Rufus married Amy Jane Willingham, daughter of Thomas and Mary Willingham. They had six children: Ida Lee, John Henry, Edward Lewis, Mattie Ola, Willie May, and Amy Ethel. As a young child I knew all of them except John Henry, who died a year and a day before I was born. The following is not meant to be a full-blown genealogy but a means for my sharing the story of the "captured" Bible and a few of the many memories I have of each of the children of William Lewis and Elizabeth Jane and their children, along with pictures of some I have accumulated over the years. For my genealogy, which includes all I know about my wood ancestry and cousins, go to my genealogy web site: