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Biography of Judge Samuel WOODS

This biography was submitted by Valerie Crook, E-mail address: <>

The submitter does not have a connection to the subject of this sketch.

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 318-319

JUDGE SAMUEL WOODS was the son of Adam Woods and his wife, Jane Long. They came to America in 1818 from the North of Ireland, and their people had come to the North of Ireland from the North of Scotland.

Samuel Woods was educated at Allegheny College, and graduated from that institution about 1846, at the head of his class, and he was thereafter made principal of the Morgantown Academy at Morgantown, West Virginia, and continued therein until 1848.

He studied law with his old friend, Timothy John Fox Alden, an able lawyer of the Pittsburgh bar. The home of Mr. Woods had been at Meadville, Pennsylvania. He was admitted to the bar in 1848, and located at Philippi, where the new county of Barbour had just been formed, and there formed a partnership-at-law with John S. Carlisle.

His brother-in-law, the late James Neeson, who likewise lived at Meadville, settled about the same time at Fairmont, where he was a distinguished lawyer.

Mr. Woods was six feet high, large of frame, weighed about 210 pounds, had a clean shaven face, and was as straight as an arrow, physical characteristics which belong to all of his sons.

He was elected a member of the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1861, which passed the Ordinance of Secession, and he voted for that instrument and signed the same, and was afterward a soldier in the Confederate Army, in Stonewall Jackson's Army Corps.

In 1871 he was elected a member to the Constitutional Convention, which framed the present Constitution of West Virginia, which has stood the test of time for more than fifty years. In that convention he was one of its most able and distinguished men, and took a very prominent part in the work which was there done.

In January, 1881, he was appointed judge of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, and was afterward elected thereto, and continued in that position until the 1st of January, 1889.

Mr. Woods was a great lawyer, practising his profession in the courts of West Virginia for more than thirty years before he went on the bench. He was undoubtedly one of the ablest and most distinguished lawyers in the State of West Virginia, and had long enjoyed a large, extensive and profitable practice when he went on the bench.

Judge Woods was bora on the 19th of September, 1822, in East Canada, at Three Rivers, and in his childhood his family moved to Meadville, Pennsylvania, where he attended the public schools, worked at the trade of plasterer, and worked his way through Allegheny College, from which he graduated at the head of his class when he was twenty years of age, with the degree of Bachelor of Arts.

Mr. Woods was a devoutly religious man, through all of the vicissitudes of the Civil war, and was a constant member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He always took the right side of every high and moral question, and never apologized for his opinion, nor feared any adversaries in public, private or professional debate. He was a distinguished man in personal appearance, distinguished in his public service, distinguished in his professional and private life.

In the history of the bench and bar of West Virginia, Judge Woods is described as "large in brain and stature, over six feet tall, weighing over two hundred pounds, round of face and handsome, of commanding appearance, and stalwart in moral as in physical qualifications. He possessed strong religious convictions, and never apologized for his faith and demonstrated his faith by his work. It was his character as well as his long experience and knowledge in the law that enabled him to achieve such remarkable success in his profession. He was a gifted orator, and one of the strongest advocates who ever appeared in a court trial in the state. Perhaps one of his most striking characteristics in an age when professional men generally were given to conviviality was his abstinence from the use of alcoholic liquors and narcotics. He possessed an excellent literary taste, and his literary style appears in all of his opinions from the bench."

In 1848 Mr. Woods married in Meadville, Pennsylvania, Isabella Neeson, and they had six children. Their three sons all became lawyers, Frank Woods, who died in Baltimore in the year 1900, J. Hop. Woods, who died at Philippi, West Virginia, on the 25th of October, 1921, and Samuel V. Woods, who still lives at Philippi, West Virginia.

Judge Woods was a democrat in politics, and was one of the most forceful and effective political platform speakers of his day within the State of West Virginia. He was a great orator, a just judge, a fine lawyer, a model citizen, loved and respected by all who knew him, and in the later years of his life, about the year 1888, Allegheny College conferred upon him the degree of LL.D.

Mr. Woods was a Mason, and he died' in his home at Philippi on the 17th of February, 1897, in the seventy-fifth year of his age.

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