John Southern or Sidney was the fifth child of Jacob and Lucinda Woodward and was born January 13, 1844, in Hallettsville, Colorado, Texas. The family had been living in Colorado County (became Lavaca April 6, 1846) about four years, and Jacob was farming and raising cattle. As it turned out, John would follow in the footsteps of his father and become a cattleman.
Note: Family researchers give John’s second name as Southern or Sommerville, but in a pension application made by his second wife and widow, Sarah Ann Woodward, she gave his name as John Sidney Woodward. The application was filed December 15, 1916. We are not certain which name is correct.
During the years following John’s birth, the Woodward family continued to grow. By 1850 the Woodward’s had seven children – Mary Jane (1836), Bernice (1838), Georgia Anne (April 5, 1840), Thomas (December 26, 1841), John (January 13, 1844), Lucian and Virginia (April 5, 1850). By 1860 three more children were born – Clarence Grant (March 13, 1852), Keron “Kittie” (January 7, 1855), and Henry (January 19, 1857). Having a large family was not that unusual in those days because in most cases, the children were needed to help with all the chores of the household. Even at young ages, children were expected to work along with their parents doing farm labor and helping in the home. Most likely that was the case in the Woodward household.
John was only 17 years old when the American Civil War began in 1861. Texas gave its allegiance to the Confederacy. This was a tumultuous time in our country and like other young men, John enlisted in the army. He was 18 years old. In his book, The History of the Nance Hereford Ranch, Jim W. Kuhlman gives the following information about John Woodward’s service.
John served in the Civil War with Company C, 13th Texas Infantry of the Confederate States Army. According to the records in the National Archives, Washington D.C., he was enlisted by J.R. Love at Petersburg, Texas, north Lavaca County, on July 6, 1862 for a period of three years or until the Civil War was over. He became a Private in the (2nd) Company C., Bates’ Regiment Texas Volunteers…Available records indicate he was on the Company Muster Roll of Company C, 13 Regiment, Texas Infantry his entire time of service from July of 1862 to April of 1865. (Kuhlman, 58-59)
JOHN MARRIES MARY ADELIA ANDERSON
At some point during the years John was serving his stint in the army, he met Mary Adelia “Della” Anderson. We do not know how long the courtship lasted, but they married June 29, 1864. She was only 15 years old. Jim Kuhlman points out that the Justice of Peace who performed their rites of matrimony was V.F. Wroe, the same person who married Lewis and Charity Nance in 1862.
Following the Civil War, John and Della began their life on a farm, and he began raising cattle very early on. As we might expect, they also started a family. By the time of the 1870 United States Federal Census, the Woodward’s had two children, William “Willie” Oscar (January 1, 1866) and Kittie Blanche (1868). There is some indication that a child named Betty was born in 1869. However, since she is not on the 1880 census, she must have died.
Information on the 1870 census record tells us that John listed his occupation as “Beef Speculator.” As early as May 9, 1874, he had recorded a new livestock brand, D+ with a mark on the end of the left ear. Family lore is that he was also a part of the early cattle drives. Jim Kuhlman shares a story given him by Bennett Nance who was John Woodward’s grandson.
My mother’s father, John Southern Woodward, was a cattleman and had small herds. He would add his small herd to the larger herds being driven to Kansas during the large trail driving days. I am told he went with the herd on the large drives several times. I was told he took his pay in gold coins and put them in nail kegs. It was told he came home once under the influence with his gold coins spilled in the back of his buggy, and another time no coins. They say he liked to nip the bottle and was not very responsible when doing so. Even then, people had their weaknesses. (Kuhlman, 61)
THE CHISHOLM TRAIL
Jim Kuhlman quotes several excellent sources in describing the early cattle drives out of Texas. One of the primary routes for the cattle drives was the “Chisholm Trail.” A brochure from the Chisholm Trail Museum of Kingfisher, Oklahoma gives this information.
In 1866 Jesse Chisholm, half breed Cherokee Indian trader, drove a wagon through Oklahoma Indian Territory to his trading post near Wichita, Kansas. Cattle drivers who followed his wagon ruts to Abilene gave the trail its name. (Kuhlman, 62)
As mentioned in the Chisholm Trail brochure, it was the historic cattle drives after the Civil War and during the Reconstruction period that saved the state of Texas financially. The people with money in Texas in those times were the owners of cattle. (Kuhlman, 67)
Also during this period after the Civil War and the trailing of cattle north from Texas, the roots of the present day western rodeos were born. Many horses needed to be broken for all the trail riders, and cattle had to be sorted and cut out of the large groups grazing in Texas and often needed to be roped and worked for branding and other things. Thus began the bronco riding, the steer wrestling and the calf roping which grew into fun competitions among the cowboys to avoid boredom and loneliness on ranches and wilderness cattle drives. It also was a way to wager one’s pay and prove manliness. Later the suspenseful bull riding and other competitive activities became a part of the rodeo scene. (Kuhlman, 67)
bY THE TIME THE 1880 United States Federal Census was taken, John and Della had four children – Lucinda “Lucy” Ann (December 13, 1869), Beulah (1872), John Southern (Sidney), Jr. (1875) and Mary Della (1878). We know that another son named Albert Tally was born in late 1880 or 1881. Like his father, John had a large family.
Even though we have no record, family information indicates that John’s wife, Della, died sometime in 1882 leaving him to raise several young children. Her life ended too soon which gives us a hint of how difficult life was for women of that time. Medical care was limited so that even the most common illnesses or conditions could be deadly.
In 1887 John remarried a woman by the name of Sally Moore. Jim Kuhlman writes that she may have been the sister-in-law of Clarence Grant Woodward (John’s younger brother).Clarence was married to Julia Ann Moore. On September 29, 1891, John and Sally had a son whom they named Jacob Clinton.
John Woodward was recorded on the 1910 United States Federal Census in the household of his daughter Kittie Grimes and her family. Both John and his daughter were widowed. She had seven children from the ages of 3 to 20.
It is believed that John S. Woodward died October 16, 1916. He was buried in the Providence or Provident Cemetery in Lavaca County, Texas. There are no dates on the tombstone. The inscription reads: Co C, 12 TX Inf, CSA..
John lived during a colorful but challenging era in Texas. As a young man he was involved one of the worst conflicts in United States history, the Civil War. Like his father before him, John was among the pioneers of the cattle industry in Texas. I believe we could say he was a cowboy in the real sense of the word. His life was truly one that some have tried to portray in movies. In my opinion the actor Robert Duvall would be great in the role of John Southern Woodward! Of course, one has to read only a few historical accounts to realize life was not all that glamorous or romantic. Those early days in Texas were rough and gritty, but the men and women who endured them did what they had to do to both survive and thrive. In many ways they laid the foundations for the good lives we are free to enjoy today.
Ancestry.com. Alabama, Texas and Virginia, Confederate Pensions, 1884-1958 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database online] Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.
Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004.
Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2003.
Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004.
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006.
Ancestry.com. Texas Marriage Collection, 1814-1909 [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2005.
Kuhlman, Jim W., The History of the Nance Hereford Ranch, 1996.
Lavaca County Cemeteries, “Providence Cemetery,” http://www.txgenweb2.org/txlavaca/cemeteries_n_r.htm
National Park Service, U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865 [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry .com Operations, Inc., 2007.
Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2011