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William W. W. Wood papers


William W. W. Wood papers
Wood, William W. W.
Collection number:
26 items
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
Collection Area:
State of Maryland and Historical Collections
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email:

This collection consists of letters written by William W. W. Wood, pioneer of the steam navy, thirty-five year naval veteran, and resident of Washington, DC, to A. L. Taveau, the overseer of Wood's farm "Jutland," located in St. Mary's County, Maryland. Wood discusses purchases he has made for the farm, fertilizing, marketing, transportation problems, crops, machinery, agricultural pests, and Taveau's impending resignation. Wood also describes his dealings with dishonest businessmen, his plans to travel to "Jutland," and various family matters.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


This collection is open for research.

Preferred citation:

William W. W. Wood papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

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Publication rights:

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

William W. W. Wood was born in North Carolina. He received a commission in the U. S. Navy on March 15, 1845, entering with the rank of chief engineer. During his thirty-five year naval career, Wood was stationed at various naval installations and had a number of special duty assignments. His first post was the Navy Yard in Pensacola, Florida (1845-1847); he also served on the steam-frigate Saranac (1850-1853), the steam-sloop Lancaster (1859-1861), and in the New York Navy Yard (1868-1869). Wood's special duty assignments included Boston (1849 and 1864), Philadelphia (1858-1859 and 1862), New York (1863 and 1865), and the Naval Academy (October 1865-May 1867 as head of the steam engineering department). Described as a pioneer of the steam navy, Wood oversaw the construction of the engines of the steam-frigate Merrimac at Cold Spring, New York (1854-1857) and also served as inspector of machinery afloat (New York, 1870-1872) and engineer-in-chief of the Navy from 1872 to 1877. His last duty was as the chief engineer in the Bureau of Steam Engineering, Department of the Navy, with the rank of commodore. He was placed on the navy retirement list May 18, 1880. At the end of his naval career, Wood resided in Washington, D.C., at Ebbitt House.

William Wood was married and had five children, three daughters and two sons. All of his daughters married navy lieutenants and one son, Lieutenant Thomas Wood, served in the United States Marine Corps. He also was a stockholder in the Island and Seaboard Coasting Company.

During his naval career, Wood was the owner of "Jutland," a 520-acre tract of land located on Smith Creek in St. Mary's County, Maryland. "Jutland" produced hay and what and Wood also raised geese and hogs for market. He was very concerned with making "Jutland" a better-paying proposition and conducted fertilizer experiments to determine whether deposits of oyster shell and "blue" sand found on his property could be beneficial as a fertilizer for his corn crop. Wood also investigated the possibility of growing sugar cane and producing sugar at a profit and experiment with the McSherry Grain Drill, an improved farm implement for distributing grain and fertilizer.

On August 31, 1882, while crossing Smith's Creek in St. Mary's County, Maryland, with H. S. Taveau, their boat capsized. Although Taveau made an effort to rescue him, Wood drowned. His body was returned to Washington, D. C., on September 2, aboard the steamer "George Leary." Funeral services were held four days later at the Epiphany Church in Washington with great military pomp. The Marine Band and a detachment of one hundred marines escorted the funeral procession to Rock Creek Cemetery, where Wood was buried.

Accounts of Wood's death appear in the Washington Post, Saturday, September 3, 1882, St. Mary's Beacon, Tuesday, September 7, 1882, and the September 9, 1882, Army and Navy Journal.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The William W. W. Wood papers span the dates 1879 to 1881 and consist of correspondence between Wood and his overseer at "Jutland," A. L. Taveau. These letters cover such topics as farming experiments and other activities relating to the work of the farm. The letters also include information on Wood's health and that of his family, business dealings with various individuals, and the need to find a new overseer.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The University of Maryland at College Park Libraries purchased the papers of William W. W. Wood from Charles Apfelbaum in 1991.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed By: Cynthia Cory, August, 1993.

Processing note:

One series was formed from the papers of William W. W. Wood. The materials have been placed in an acid-free folder and box.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Jennie A. Levine.

Arrangement of Collection

The papers are arranged into one series

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Series I: Correspondence, 1879-1881 (26 items)

This series consists of twenty-six letters written by William W. W. Wood to his overseer, A. L. Taveau, concerning matters on Woods farm "Jutland." Topics covered by the letters include growing corn, determining if material found on the farm will make good fertilizers, and the advisability of growing sugar cane and producing sugar. Also found in the letters is a running commentary on dealing with dishonest businessmen, the need to find a new overseer, and plans by Wood to travel to "Jutland." Other subjects described in the letters concern family matters. The materials are arranged chronologically.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Correspondence, 1879-1881 series 1box 1folder 1

Related Material

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