Judge John Woods was a prominent man who served Rutherford County with great distinction.
He was born in Murfreesboro on September 11, 1807, to Thomas Woods and Susan Baldridge, who was of Irish descent. John was second born to a family of 11 siblings.
The Woods migrated from North Carolina to Tennessee in the early 1800s. His paternal grandfather John Woods was in the Revolutionary War, and three of his sons served actively in the American Army.
Judge Woods’ paternal great-grandfather William Mebane was colonel in the Revolutionary War. William also served in the North Carolina Senate in 1782.
Thomas Woods was well educated in Orange County, North Carolina, and desired the same intellectual upbringing for his son. Thomas labored hard in our county as a blacksmith. John attended rural schools in Rutherford County and grew up on a small farm and was considered poor.
Yet he continued to study hard and seek a better existence.
At age 21, John was elected a four year term as constable. In 1828, John was a major in the 45th regiment of the Tennessee Militia on a commission from Gen. Sam Houston, governor of Tennessee. He did not serve in the Civil War with older age and physical disabilities.
In 1833, John wed Mary Frances Jarratt (1815-1884) of Goochland County, Virginia, ancestry. They enjoyed 51 loving years together. Mary was born in Rutherford County. John later wed Nannie Boring (1828-1890).
Until 1840, John worked in merchandising and farming. In that same year, he was elected Register of Rutherford County and served two terms until 1848.
He was then elected County Court Clerk and served eight years in this role. As a direct witness in the role of clerk, his name remains in the archival records on many historical documents we study today.
Meanwhile, he was a judge in the county for 21 years, having been reelected annually with no opposition.
In 1859, on the apex of the Civil War, John was elected by a wide majority to the Tennessee Legislature and served two years during turbulent sessions on the issue of the War Between the States. Afterward, he returned to his Rutherford County farm at age 52 to lie low during the brutality of the Civil War.
John owned large properties that were destroyed in the war. In 1866, John was commissioned a magistrate, and he was chairman of the Rutherford County Court in 1867. He also served as director of both the Planters Bank in Murfreesboro and the Murfreesboro Savings Bank.
John was a strong Jeffersonian Democrat and a delegate to the Democratic State Convention. John cast his first vote for Andrew Jackson in 1828 and was regarded as “one of the old wheelhorses of Democracy.”
John and wife Mary had no children but raised several young relatives in their home. He was known as a very intelligent and generous man, always helping others in need.
Judge John Woods died a respected man in 1896 at age 89. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Murfreesboro. His obituary is entitled “Major Woods was one of the County’s Most Honored Citizens.”
He was a gentleman who lived his entire life in our county and served early government and mankind in an altruistic manner.
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