Return to Ohio Biographies
Return to Index

Dr. Thomas Wood 
pages 174-177

"Treat all our race like brothers;
And what we'd have them do for us,
That kindly do for others."
—Thomas Wood.

N0 lines from the standard poets could express so well as these, his own words, the noble outlook on life held by Dr. Thomas Wood, for so many years one of the leading physicians of Cincinnati. A poet of no mean order himself, marked by virility of thought as well as beauty of language, Cincinnati loved him for his full worth, and he became an integral part of that brilliant literary life which made the first half of the nineteenth century in Cincinnati so luminous. Particularly well known was his volume of poems, "The World as It Is," from which the lines above have been borrowed.
Dr. Wood had the considerable distinction for those times of being a "native son," for his parents were among the early settlers in Ohio and he was born at Smithfield, Jefferson County, in 1814, on August 22. His parents were Nathan and Margaret (Wafters) Wood, members of the Society of Friends, and their ancestors "came over" in the Mayflower. His parents were married in December, 1800. Nathan Wood developed a farm in Jefferson County and many a tale the son could tell in later years of his early share in the "chores." Frequently young Thomas would be sent to plow; but he found a neighbor boy who would plow instead for pay, while Thomas sought some near shade-tree and buried himself in a beloved book. The boy received his formal education from the district school, in which he was a faithful student during the term. He also made good use of the world of nature, reading "sermons in stones" and good in everything. He made good use of every bit of spare time as he was an inveterate reader.
When the possibilities of the country school were exhausted, young Thomas set out for the then seat of learning, the University of Pennsylvania, at Philadelphia—a grand old institution founded by Franklin and a credit and honor to the country to this day. Young Thomas arrived in Philadelphia, which was the first large city he had ever seen, dressed in the old-fashioned garments that were the best in his meager wardrobe, and crowned with a relic of Ohio hunting days in the form of a rabbit-skin cap. He was thus an object of interest to certain wondering students and citizens. By faithful application to his books, however, he began to outstrip his fellow students, despite the handicap he was under, since he had to work his own way through the college. But thus early was Thomas Wood able to demonstrate his independent qualities and inspire respect. In 1839 he received his diploma from the University of Pennsylvania, but spent another year in Philadelphia gaining clinical experience. In 1840, a full-fledged medicus, he returned to his native town of Smithfield, and soon was the pride of the country quickly building up a good practice.
Warm-hearted as was this youth he had to shut his heart to romance until the uncertainties of his arduous young manhood were over. But in 1843 he married Miss Emily Miller, of Mt. Pleasant, Ohio. Two sons were born of this union: Edwin M., born January 30, 1844, and Samuel J., born March 8, 1847. Both are now deceased. Edwin, the elder, grew up to serve his country manfully in the Civil War, studied medicine and shared his father's practice in Cincinnati later. Dr. Edwin Wood died January 12, 1878. He married Alice Von Phul. To this union were born two children, one son and one daughter. The son, Dr. Henry Thomas Wood. died July 15, 1892. He married Mary Rogers Knapp, who is also deceased. They had two children, Alice Von Phul Wood and Thomas Wood, both of whom are living with their grandmother, Mrs. Charles Epply, in Cincinnati. The mother of these two sons died early in life, on May 4, 1848, at Smithfield, Jefferson County, Ohio, and lies buried in her first home, Mount Pleasant.
Dr. Wood came to Cincinnati, in April, 1846, accompanied by his wife and young son. This was the year of the scourge of cholera and he threw himself heroically into the battle with the plague. He worked indefatigably, even denying himself needed rest that more sufferers might have attention. He related often in succeeding years how he planned his habits to ward off the contagion and allowed himself only buttermilk to drink in order to increase the natural powers of resistance to disease. Dr. Wood established his first office in Cincinnati on the north side of Seventh Street, between Vine and Race, in 1849, and built up an extensive practice. His second office was on Sixth Street between Vine and Race, and his last office was on Eighth Street, between Vine and Race. He became the most noted physician and surgeon of the Queen City, being widely known on both sides of the Atlantic for his successful operations and high standards of medical practice. His work in the Cincinnati of his time will never be forgotten. In later years Dr. Wood was frequently called upon in consultation, for his name was recognized by the profession as one of authority.
In 1855 Dr. Wood was married in Philadelphia to Miss Elizabeth J. Reiff, his second wife, by whom he had six children, three sons and three daughters: Charles R., born May 9, 1857, and died June 27, 1891; Libbie B., born January 25, 1860; Thomas Shiloh, born April 10,1862; Lucy B., born August 20,1864; Willie W., born March 26, 1867; Mary A., born April 22, 1870—all of whom have passed away. Of these children only Charles R. lived to maturity. This son studied medicine and followed in the footsteps of his father. He died in New York, June 27, 1891. Thomas Shiloh, the second son of this union, was born while his father was succoring the stricken on the battlefield of Shiloh—a circumstance commemorated in his cognomen. The mother of these children died in 1871, July 27, in Philadelphia.
On July 27, 1876, Dr. Wood was married to Miss Carrie C. Fels, a lady prominent in society of Cincinnati. Miss Fels was born in Cincinnati, March 14, 1851, daughter of Medard and Catherine (Rhein) Fels, being one of a family of ten children. Mrs. Mary C. Auten Rieth, whose husband is a well-known orthopedist, is a sister of Mrs. Wood, as is also Mrs. Charles Keller, wife of a druggist of Cincinnati. A maiden sister, Miss Loretta M. Fels, now makes her home with Mrs. Wood at the family residence, No. 2642 Bellevue Avenue, Cincinnati. Mrs. Carrie C. Wood is known in artistic circles in Cincinnati. Her talent is considerable and she employed it to the great delight of her husband in painting his special hobby—spiders. She has also done some excellent china pieces and some fine carving. Her work is invariably marked by its fine conception of design and decorative treatment. Her train- ing has been of the best, at the School of Design in Cincinnati, where she was at once admitted into the water-color class. Dr. and Mrs. Wood were well suited in temperament and their union was ideal.
Dr. Thomas Wood was the owner of a fine geological collection the result of his own labors. To this his widow has added many remarkable specimens since the doctor's death, November 21, 1880. Dr. Wood was a man of broad interests and attainments and an inventor of no mean ability. He patented a fountain pen, also a surveying instrument. His literary accomplishments have already been alluded to. He was a lover and a writer of verse, many of his poems being published in the papers of the day. The quotation selected for the head of this brief sketch is from one of his works, "The World as It Is," which was published in 1849 in a Cincinnati paper and later made the title-piece to a collected volume of his writings.
Dr. Thomas Wood may be called a self-made man—and an excellently made one, for which he should have full credit, since he created opportunities and made it the rule of life to make full use of every minute of time. And just as he was manly in boyhood, so was he boyish even in manhood, never seeming to lose sight of youth, never forgetting he himself had once been a boy. His sympathy with every age and condition made him a favorite of young and old, but he was particularly loved by and indulgent to the children. The subject of this sketch was named after his grandfather, Thomas Wood, who was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, November 17, 1750. He married Susanah Pusey in November, 1773 and they removed to Frederick County, Md. Their fourth son, Nathan, the father of the subject of this sketch, was born February 7, 1781, in Pennsylvania, married Margaret Watters in December, 1800, and as a result of this union three sons and two daughters were born. They removed to Jefferson County, Ohio, in 1814.
Dr. Wood was one of the early Masons, and also an Odd Fellow and will ever be revered by these orders. He was also prominent in membership in the Natural History Society of Cincinnati. He was raised strictly according to the ideals of the Quakers and never swerved from their standards. Like most men who have attained eminence in his profession his outlook on life was broad and sane, marked with liberality toward all.
Such a man as Dr. Thomas Wood leaves the world his debtor when he leaves it. He died at the age of sixty-six, beloved by all, on the twenty-first of November, 1880. He will ever remain a living memory in Cincinnati for he used his talents for others and gave the best of himself to the city.
The Dental Register, a Cincinnati publication, in speaking of the death of Dr. Wood, says:
"Dr. Wood was sixty years of age and leaves Dr. Mussey, whose senior he was, the sole survivor of the surgeons of his day, the contemporaries of Blackman—a group that made Cincinnati and her colleges famous the world over."
"In early life he lectured in the Medical College of Ohio and at one time was Professor of Anatomy in the Ohio College of Dental Surgery. Since that time he has served several terms as Chief Surgeon of the staff of the Cincinnati Hospital."
"Dr. Wood, though naturally of a diffident and retiring nature, occupied during nearly the whole of his professional life some public position of honor and trust."
As a surgeon he had no superior in the West, and perhaps not in this country. His fame in this respect was national. He will be missed wherever he was known; and it is safe to say that few men could be more poorly spared to the community or to the profession than Dr. Wood. Personally, he was quiet, social and benevolent. His charities were many; but in this respect, "his right hand knew not what his left hand did."
At the funeral of the Veteran Scientist and Surgeon, Rev. E. D. Ledyard, of the Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church, officiated, and his discourse upon the life and services of Dr. Wood are in part given below.
"It is not strange that Dr. Wood will be mourned, for he will be missed in his family, missed by his patients and missed by the profession. He was a great, a good man, and the story of his life will make a lasting impression in the history of medicine and surgery. Both sides of the Atlantic attested his fame, and that fame was the property of his family and profession. The world was not yet ready to spare Dr. Wood. A man of his robust nature should have lived for many years yet, but God called him. And in reflecting it is pleasant to know that death resulted from injuries while at his post in relieving the wounded in the wards of our hospitals. He isgone and cannot be recalled, even should it be wished. Not only will the great physician be missed by the great world, but the husband and father will be wanting in the sanctuary."


Background Design

Barbara's Bordered Backgrounds

Representative Citizens of Ohio; Memorial--Biographical (Cleveland 1917)

Page design © 2002 - 2008 by &