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Woods Family Papers - Additions

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Woods-2

Scope and Content of the Collection

Genealogical research notes, correspondence, writings, documents, and photographs relating to the Woods family of Illinois and Nebraska, and ancestor Henry Ruiter (originally Hendrick de Ruyter) of Canada.

The small amount of correspondence relates to Frank H. Woods’s research for and publication of a book on his ancestor Henry Ruiter. Woods’s research notes include photocopies of his work on the history of the Ruiter and Woods families and documentation of his Canadian ancestors from various Canadian historical societies and publications. The bulk of the manuscript material concerns Frank Woods’s great-grandmother, Fanny Woods, and her immediate family. It includes part of her account book begun in 1879 which was later used as an informal scrapbook by her son Frederick Moffatt Woods, her small diary, 1854-1858, a notebook of poetry and obituary newspaper clippings and a group of stories. Also, a copy of her will and her mother Rebecca’s will, both 1865, a collection of family deeds for Boone County, Illinois land, business receipts and other miscellaneous family items including a copy of a patent for an elastic horse shoe.

Of particular interest is a large 1842-1844 ledger maintained by Fanny Woods’s husband Elias Woods, a shoemaker who kept extensive, detailed business accounts. Elias Woods died in 1851 and Fanny Woods used his account book as a sporadic diary, notebook, and scrapbook, 1850-1854.

The images in the collection consist of a group of six daguerreotypes and three tintypes, a few unidentified, and a large group of mostly 20th century photographs of Woods family individuals, notably Frank H. Woods Sr. and his wife Nelle Cochrane Woods. Also, many images of Woods and Cochranes homes in Lincoln, Nebraska.


  • Creation: 1842-1980



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Woods Family Papers - Additions are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Woods Family Papers - Additions are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Woods Family Members

This collection, additions to the Woods Family Papers which was assembled and preserved by Frank H. Woods Jr. for a proposed family history, includes information on Henry Ruiter (1742-1819) and his descendants. The Woods Papers reflect the lives and activities of six generations of the family, and although many family members are represented, Fanny Woods, Elias Woods, Frederick Moffatt Woods and Frank H. Woods Sr. predominate. Biographical notes on these individuals follow.

Henry Ruiter’s life and genealogical line are fully described in a book by Rick J. Ashton entitled The Life of Henry Ruiter (1974). Born and raised in Albany County, New York, Ruiter declared himself a Loyalist during the Revolution and fled to Canada to fight with the British. For his services, he was granted acreage in Potton County, Lower Canada. Ruiter married twice and had fifteen children.

One of his daughters, Rebecca, married Jedediah Woods of Warwick, Massachusetts, and they settled in Boone County, Illinois, where their daughter Fanny was born in 1822. Fanny was a prolific poet and her works were frequently published in periodicals of the day. Fanny married Elias Spalding Woods of a distantly related Vermont family, and after his death, Marcus White. Fanny Woods White died in 1893.

Fanny had three sons, the eldest of whom was Frederick Moffatt Woods. Raised in Illinois, he served with the Elgin U.S. Light Artillery (also known as Renwick’s Elgin Battery Light Artillery) during the Civil War. He was mustered in Sept. 4, 1864, and served in the Battle of Nashville. His battery traveled east through Knoxville and Wheeling to Washington, D.C. By May of 1865 Woods was in the USA General Hospital in Chester Pa., where he accepted a clerk’s position. He was discharged June 13, 1865. Later in life he moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he became involved in agricultural matters and cattle breeding. When he died in 1928 he was survived by four sons, one of whom was Frank H. (Frank Henry) Woods, born in 1868.

Frank H. Woods Sr. spent his adult life in Lincoln, Nebraska. His first calling was as a lawyer, but he achieved fame as founder of the Lincoln Telephone and Telegraph Company. He was president and chairman of LT&T from 1904 to 1946, but was extensively involved in many other businesses in Lincoln, Chicago and Cleveland. Frank H. Woods Sr. died in 1952.

His son, Frank H. (Frank Henry) Woods, Jr., was born in Lincoln in 1905, but after college he began a rigorous business life in Chicago and settled with his family in Lake Forest. In 1967 he wrote, “For the past two years I have been working on a family history made possible by a remarkable collection of letters and papers preserved by Fanny Woods during the period 1840 through 1882.” Frank Woods Jr. corresponded with his relatives and various genealogical societies for most of his adult life, and the result was a manuscript entitled “Fanny” in which he chronicles not only Fanny Woods’s life but the lives of other family members as well. Woods continued working on family history and his extensive research on the life of his ancestor, Henry Ruiter (Henrick de Ruyter), produced the biography of Ruiter written by Rick J. Ashton.

Frank H. Woods Jr. died in 1980.


4.5 Linear Feet (2 boxes, 2 oversize boxes, 1 shoebox, and 1 oversize folder)


Materials gathered and retained by Frank H. Woods Jr. relating to Henry Ruiter (originally Hendrick de Ruyter) of Canada and his Woods descendants. Includes Frank H. Woods’s correspondence and research notes for a biography of Henry Ruiter, notebooks with accounts, poetry and stories of his great-grandmother, Fanny M. Woods, and an account book of his great-grandfather, Elias Woods, Woods family deeds and receipts from Boone County, Illinois (1840s-1860s), and other miscellaneous early Woods family items. Also, a collection of daguerreotypes and tintypes, plus a large collection of mostly 20th century photographs of Woods and Cochrane family members and their homes in Lincoln, Nebraska.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Frank H. Woods Jr. Research Materials, undated, 1920-1980
Box 1
Series 2: Woods Family Material, 1842-1893
Boxes 2-3
Series 3: Daguerreotypes and Tintypes, approximately 1845-1865
Box 4
Series 4: Photographs, 1866-1970
Box 5

Collection Stack Location

1 36 7


Gift, Lucia Woods Lindley, 2005.

Processed by

Virginia Hay Smith, 2007.

Inventory of the Woods Family Papers - Additions, 1842-1980
Virginia Hay Smith
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States