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Woodworth, George R. 1843-1893


Posted By: Linda Ziemann, volunteer (email)
Date: 3/15/2019 at 20:33:02

The Algona Upper Des Moines

Wednesday, Dec. 27, 1893


He Expired Suddenly In Chicago Last Saturday Morning—Heart Failure the Cause.

A Well-known Merchant in This Section for Many Years.

George R. Woodworth died suddenly in the Briggs House in Chicago Saturday morning. He had been in Algona and Bancroft for several weeks but went to the city last week Tuesday to complete arrangements with the creditors of the Simpkins & Co. firm to take the stock and pay them off. When he left here, Col. Spencer, assignee of the stock, was to go if he was needed. Wednesday Mr. Spencer received a telegram to come and also Thursday. Thursday evening he started and spent Friday with Mr. Woodworth visiting the various firms interested. Once during the walk, Mr. Woodworth complained of being short of breath and asked to stand a minute and rest. Nothing was thought of it at the time, but after the coroner’s jury returned a verdict of death by heart failure, it was recalled. Geo. W. Skinner of Bancroft was with them part of the time, he being in the city on business. In the afternoon Mr. Woodworth was not feeling well and towards 4 o’clock Col. Spencer called a cab and had him taken to the Briggs House, where he was soon put to bed, and where Col. Spencer left him hurriedly, having barely time to catch the Northwestern train for home. The next heard here in Algona was a telegram Saturday afternoon that he had been found dead the following morning. Probably no announcement was ever more unexpected or caused a greater shock. Mr. Woodworth was known to nearly everybody in the central and north part of the state. He came to Algona in May 1869, and opened his store around on Thorington street. Then at the time of the Milwaukee depot excitement, he went there and erected the east third of what is now Boardman’s creamery, at a cost then of nearly $6,000. The four years of grasshoppers ruined business there and he moved back to the building where Goeders’ store now is and until 1883 rented there. In that year he built the fine brick Goeders now owns. A few years later he sold to Mr. Goeders and took his stock to Bancroft, selling it out there and buying land at the beginning of the boom, making during these late years very successful investments. The past year he has spent in Chicago.

Mr. Woodworth was born in 1843 in Orleans county, N.Y., being only 50 years of age at his death. When 16 years of age he went to Jamestown to clerk. In 1862 he and his brother, Rome, went to Faribault, Minn., and went into business, where they were successful. An attack of inflammatory rheumatism kept him shut up nearly a year and they sold out and returned to New York. There he was married to Gertrude Hatch, who survives him, and came to Algona, and his brother came to Webster City. Two children were born. Rome was superintendent of the Stevens threshing machine exhibit at the World’s Fair, and sold 16 outfits in Europe, which W. H. Mullica of Algona spent the summer in setting up, and is one of the most promising young business men in the city. George is still in school.

Everybody who knew Mr. Woodworth will regret his untimely end. He was genial, sociable, and friendly in his personal intercourse, shrewd and cautious but fair in his business dealings, a lover of home and a quiet domestic life, the intimate companion of his children, a man whom everybody enjoyed stopping to chat with and who made life pleasanter for all who came in contact with him. It is in memory of a year of clerking under his tuition back in 1876 and frequent associations since that The Upper Des Moines pays a tribute to the uniform courtesy and thoughtfulness for others, which marked his private life. A cross or rough word never passed his lips under any provocation. He expressed his views in a smiling manner or held his peace, and while the many unpleasant and disheartening experiences of his later years left visible traces on him, they never robbed him of his genial and friendly manner. His death will bring a feeling of regret to many homes in Kossuth, and recall many incidents of early times. May he rest in peace will be the wish of all.


The Courier, Friday, Dec. 29, 1893

Algona, Iowa


Geo. R. Woodworth Was Found Dead in a Room in the Briggs House in Chicago.

The Remain Interred in Algona—A Large Number Pay Their Last Respects to the Deceased.

A telegram received in Algona last Saturday morning by Col. Spencer, bearing the intelligence that Geo. R. Woodworth had been found that morning dead in one of the rooms of the Briggs House in Chicago. The Col. had left Mr. Woodworth in the Briggs House about 5 o’clock the evening before, and had been in Woodworth’s company during the day, and as much talk naturally resulted from the sad incident we deem it best to give all that has appeared in print and also a succinct statement as told by Col. Spencer himself. The following is from the Chicago Herald, and is substantially all that has appeared in print about it and all there is to tell about it.


When a chambermaid at the Briggs House opened the door of room 421 with a pass key last Saturday morning, she found a dead man on the floor. The girl had been unable to arouse the inmate of the room from the outside and was horrified at the discovery, but reported the matter to the hotel office at once.

The body on the floor was finally identified as that of Geo. R. Woodworth, of 119 Loomis street, a wealthy man of family, who for thirty years previous to the fall of 1892, had dept a dry goods and general store at Algona, Iowa. The body was taken to C.H. Sigmund’s undertaking establishment at 73 Fifth avenue, where an inquest was held. Dr. Mitchell, the coroner’s physician, held the autopsy and a verdict of death from heart disease was returned.


The clerk in the office of the Briggs House, to whom the discovery was reported, sent at once to the room, having first ascertained that the name of the occupant of the room, according to the hotel register, was George Ganem, and that he lived in or registered from this city. The clerk found the body on the floor near the washstand. A dampened towel lay near the hand of the corpse. The man was still warm, and probably had not been dead more than an hour. After getting up the man had dressed himself with the exception of his coat, overcoat and hat, and these articles were found in the room.

When an investigation was made at the undertaking rooms and the articles of personal property were taken from the pockets, it was thought the man was R.H. Spencer, of Algona, Iowa, who appeared to have been having some business with George R. Woodworth and James H. Walker & Co., of this city. Word was sent to James H. Walker’s wholesale store and finally a clerk was found there, who came and identified the body as that of George R. Woodworth. David Sinsebaugh, also employed by Walker and Co., knew both Spencer and Woodworth, and was able to tell considerable about the nature of the business between the two men.


The clerk at the Briggs House relates this story: “Last Friday evening about 4:45 o’clock three men came into the hotel. Two of them were supporting the third and they took him directly to the elevator. One of the men, who, I have since learned, was Colonel Spencer, of Algona, came to the desk and asked for a good room for a good man who was unfortunate but who wanted to be called early in order that he might get home to his family, members of which would be anxious. I gave them a room and Spencer registered the man, whom I have since learned was George R. Woodworth, as George Ganem. They then went upstairs and I heard no more of them until the maid reported the man dead in room 421 Saturday morning at 9 o’clock. I remember that Spencer was anxious to catch a train on the Milwaukee and St. Paul Road at 5:30 o’clock Friday evening and that the cab they came to the hotel in waited and that Spencer came downstairs and left in the cab for the Union depot, having barely enough time to catch the train. Late Saturday evening the same man who helped Spencer bring Mr. Woodworth to the hotel the previous day, came in here and spoke to me at the desk, asking me if ‘our friend’ (referring to Mr Woodworth) had got up all right. I told him the man was dead and he said Mr. Spencer and Mr. Woodworth had called at the store where he was employed, 219 South Water street, about twenty minutes after 4 o’clock Friday afternoon. He knew Spencer well and Spencer wanted him to help him take care of his friend (Woodworth.) They all came to the hotel together and when they got to the room a round of drinks was ordered. Spencer was endeavoring to persuade Woodworth to go to bed, and succeeded only by promising to retire with him. Both retired, but Woodworth fell asleep before the drinks arrived and did not drink. Seeing that Woodworth was asleep Spencer arose, and, dressing hurriedly left the room, wearing the Woodworth coat and leaving his own. Without knowing the man, I thought at the time Spencer registered his friend that Spencer had been drinking freely, and his statements to me believe that his friend (Woodworth) had also been imbibing freely."

Clerk Sinsabaugh, of J. H. Walker & Co., testified at the inquest that when he saw Spencer and Woodworth last, at 4:10 o’clock, Spencer was under the influence of liquor, but that Woodworth was duly sober.


Over a year ago Woodworth sold a stock of goods at Algona to Simpkins & Son, who removed the goods to Bancroft, Iowa, eighteen miles from Algona. Simpkins & Son did not prosper and were forced to make an assignment a few weeks ago. Spencer was appointed assignee, and Walker & Co., were among the principal creditors. Woodworth, however, was the first creditor and the other creditors agreed to sell the stock to Woodworth, and as assignee and officer of the court, Spencer came to Chicago last Friday to assist in the arrangements for the sale which were completed, as was contemplated, Friday afternoon.

On arriving at Algona Saturday morning, Spencer telegraphed to Woodworth in care of Walker & Co., informing him of his mistake in taking his (Woodworth’s) coat and asking that his own be taken care of. Since that time no word has been received from Spencer.


Col. Spencer’s statement corroborates that of the Herald. He was called to Chicago both by Woodworth and Walker & Co. with a view of making a deal of the Simpkins stock. He went in, leaving Mrs. Spencer in a very nervous condition, and promised that he would be home Saturday morning. After arriving in Chicago and talking over the business affair with Woodworth and Walker, Mr. Sinsebaugh, Walker’s head clerk, and Spencer and Woodworth took a drink, and as they remained together most of the day, they took several other drinks until all were feeling jolly. Spencer went there with the fixed determination to start back Friday evening, for unless he did so, he could not get home until Monday, and he never lost sight of that idea. So after getting Woodworth to bed, he started as above related. Under the circumstances, he did what most men would have done. He got his friend safely to bed in a good hotel and told the clerk to call him early as his family would be anxious about him. Of course he expected, as anyone else would, that Mr. Woodworth would awake in the morning all right. With regard to answering telegrams, Mr. Spencer did not get the telegram until 36 hours after it was sent. He says he replied to all telegrams as soon as they were received. Indeed so wrought up have been his feelings since the sad event that he has not been in condition to attend to any business.


The remains of Mr. Woodworth arrived in Algona yesterday morning accompanied by Mrs. Woodworth and her two sons, Rome and George, and Mr. Woodworth’s brother, R. N. Woodworth and wife and daughter. The Masonic Lodge of town and many of the citizens in carriages and on foot met the remains at the depot and accompanied them to the cemetery, where they were buried with Masonic rites.


Geo. R. Woodworth was one of the pioneer merchants of Algona, and was one of the most genial and popular of men, and no man in the community was more correct in his habits than he. He was born in Orleans county, N.Y., in 1843, and in 1862, in company with his brother, came to Faribault, Minn., and engaged in business. He soon after settled in Algona, where he remained until about three years ago. He leaves a wife and two sons, all of whom are popular in this community and with whom the community deeply sympathizes in this their hour of affliction.


Kossuth Obituaries maintained by Linda Ziemann.
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