Thursday, May 4, 2017

Henry W. Woodworth (1836-1916 ) and Adeline J. Woodworth (1835-1919)

Henry W. Woodworth (1836-1916 ) and Adeline J. Woodworth (1835-1919)

When we are interested in learning the history of a community, whether it is the heart of the community or the greater community as a whole, it is easy to get caught up on the most familiar names.  Those are the names everyone throws out when you ask a question about who did what or when.  And, of course, those names are very easy to research; just type in their name in the search bar, and more leads than you can possibly follow show up.

But what about the name or names you randomly run across and can find little or no leads when you do a search?  Are those names less important, and might as well be forgotten?  In my opinion, it is those unknowns that we should get to know.  They too make a lasting impression on the history we know today.

Those of you who have lived in the community all your life may already be familiar with these names; perhaps you hear your grandparents talk about them.  You may or may not have just forgotten the names.

Today’s name, “Woodworth” will be familiar to several people for two reasons.  One, they know the Woodworth water tank on Peacock Hill.  Or, perhaps they connect the name “Woodworth” with the construction company started in 1921 in Tacoma because they constructed the intermediate and end piers on the Narrows Bridge in 1948 as well as the paving on the bridge itself and the road approaches.  The company is still in business today, although the name has changed. 

Although the connection with the water tower is right, the connection to the construction company is not.  I first became familiar with Henry’s name when a woman came into the museum about three years ago with a picture she had found.  She didn’t know anything about it other than she thought the man was Henry Woodworth.  He was I believe sitting on the steps, with a woman standing near him in from of a two story frame building.  On and off, I have tried to discover Henry’s story, along with the history of the Woolworth Addition on Peacock Hill.
Woodworth Addition Plat Map filed August 22, 1890

Henry was born in Madison, Wisconsin on September 1 (or 11) 1836.  By age 21 he was living with his father, Samuel (60); mother, Julia (40); brothers Henry (19); Jason (16); George (14); Wesley (9); Elihue (7) and sister Charlotte (12) in Freeborn, Minnesota Territory.

Two years later in 1860, he and his first wife, Clara A. had a son whom they named George E.  Unfortunately the trail on Clara and George evaporated as I was unable to find any additional information on them.  But we must remember that Minnesota was involved in both the Indian Wars as well as the Civil War during 1861-1865.

Henry enlisted in Company F, Minnesota 4th Infantry Regiment on October 11, 1861.  He mustered out (discharged) on July 19, 1865 at Louisville, Kentucky.  

When Henry returned to Freeborn, Minnesota he met and married Adeline Jerusha Hudson in Nunda on May 2, 1866.  They had no children and this has been confirmed on the information on file at Retail Veterans Home, Port Orchard.

Adeline was born in New Hartford, New York on November 11, 1835.  As a young girl her family moved first to Minnesota and then when she was 11 to Wisconsin.  At age 15, she married Theodore B. Lilly, who was 10 years older than she, in Walworth, WI.  

The country was suffering the after-effects of the Civil War as well as The Long Depression of 1873-1878, farmers and industrialism were at odds, and the weather didn’t always cooperate.  Many families joined the migration west and the Woolworths were one of those families.  Several veterans and fellow Minnesotans wound up in Gig Harbor.  Did Henry know some of them, did he come with some?  I don’t know.  Because in 1870 Henry and Adeline were already living in Vermillion, Clay County, Dakota Territory.  

One of Adaline’s brothers, James had served in Company F, 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry so perhaps he introduced Adeline to Henry even though they had served in different units.  Unfortunately James died that same year as Henry and Adeline married.

The town of Vermillion and Clay County were established in 1862.  When the Woolworths lived there it had three hotels, three general stores, and a bank as well as three sawmills, three drug stores, a barbershop and a flour mill.  It also have four churches representing the four major protestant faiths - Baptist, Methodist, Congregational and Episcopal.  The University of South Dakota had been established in 1862.  So as you can see, this was a very thriving community.  

But just as the town flourished a huge flood washed away the town.  Fires were also a hazard and commonplace and the town was hit by the diphtheria epidemic.  So it’s easy to understand their desire to move further west.

Henry W. Woodworth and his second wide, Adeline, arrived in Gig Harbor in 1889 from Wisconsin.  They homesteaded on Peacock Hill and two years after Dr. Burnham plotted the Town of Gig Harbor in 1888, on August 22, 1890,  Henry and Adeline plotted their “Woodworth Addition”.  It consisted of eight square blocks of residential property which today is bordered on the east by Peacock Hill Avenue and Vernhardson Street on the north.
C, E, Shaw residence near the corner of Benson St. and Woodworth Ave. (1946)

Surprisingly, the very next day Artena Land and Improvement Company filed a plat for the Town of Artena, bounded by Peacock Hill Avenue on the west and south of Vernhardson Street down to the waterfront.  Unfortunately while the owners were clearing and burning portions of  their Artena Plat on August 29, 1890 the fire got out of control.  It rushed down the hillside, alighting the retired steamers, Welcome, a 127 ft stern wheeler, and Alida, 115 ft side-wheeler.  Both ships burned to the waterline. 

By 1910, they moved to Port Orchard to live at the Retsil Veterans Home.  It was there he died September 10, 1916 as at 80, and Adeline died on July 24, 1919 at age 83.  At the time of his death they had been married 50 years.

But before Henry and Adeline moved to Retsil Veterans Home due to ill health, how did they spend the 21 years they lived in Gig Harbor?  Yes, we know about the “Woolworth Addition”, but what else?  The 1900 US Census lists his occupation as farmer.  For me, there is still so much missing information on this family.


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