Transcribed by Teresa Kesterke from: Biographical Review of Des Moines County, Iowa: Containing Biographical and Genealogical Sketches of Many of the Prominent Citizens of To-day and Also of the Past, Hobart Publishing Company, Chicago, 1905.


George M. Woodward, one of the prominent and well-known farmers of Union Township, was born upon the farm where he now makes his home March 2, 1866. He is a son of Erastus and Martha (Comstock) Woodward. His father was born May 12, 1826, in Windsor, Vt., and is a son of Erastus and Sarah (Gilson) Woodward. The father of our subject had five brothers and four sisters. His mother died in 1870, aged eighty years, and his father in 1874, at the age of seventy-seven years.

Mr. Erastus Woodward, Jr., received his education in Meriden, N. H., where he took an academic course, graduating in the class of 1847, and in that year he left home. He traveled about till 1850, when he went to California. Here he passed through some hardships and strange experiences, but remained till 1853, when he returned to his native State; going to Indianapolis, Ind., he purchased a horse, and in this manner made the trip to Burlington, Iowa, buying two hundred and fifteen acres of land on Sections 11, 12, and 14 in Union township. Scarcely any improvements had been made upon this land, but he immediately began its cultivation, adding more acres till he had two hundred and ninety-three acres in extent, being one of the finest and best improved farms in Des Moines county, and all the result of his own labor. The rude log cabin, in which, for a time, he lived in true pioneer style, has long since given place to a large stone dwelling, 34 x 50 feet, two stories in height. Upon the land will be found all the necessary buildings for a well-regulated farm, and everything denotes thrift and energy.

In January, 1854, Mr. Woodward was united in marriage with Miss Martha J. Comstock, who was born in Hamilton county, Ohio, Dec. 13, 1837, and is a daughter of Joab and Jane (Lemmon) Comstock, the father a native of Ohio, and the mother of Maryland. Mr. and Mrs. Comstock came to Des Moines county in 1837, being among the early pioneers, where the death of the latter occurred May 27, 1875, the husband surviving until 1881. Both were devoted members of the Methodist Episcopal church.

Mr. and Mrs. Woodward were the happy parents of ten children, seven of whom are now living: Vandoran, born Feb. 16, 1855, is now a merchant in Kansas City. Mo.: Amy E., born Sept. 10, 1856, became the wife of W. W. Gearhart, a farmer of Fairfield, Iowa: Sarah Jane, born Oct. 7, 1859, died April 9, 1860; Gideon, who was born Aug. 16, 1862, attended the high school of Burlington, and was also a student of the State University of Iowa City, Iowa, where he learned to be a civil engineer. He married Miss Isa Barnes, and they went to India as missionaries from the Methodist church and were very successful for a while; but the climate did not seem to agree with Mr. Woodward's health, and he was called to his final home in 1901. He was a bright, active young man, always earnestly engaged in Christian work and was ever a dutiful son, a devoted husband, and a kind and loving father. Though several years have come and gone since Gideon Woodward was among his associates, and time has scored three years since he bade adieu to his scores of friends, yet his memory is still tenderly enshrined in the hearts of all who knew him, and his life made a record that was a blessing to all. Martha H., born Sept. 15, 1864; George M., born March 2, 1866, subject of this review; Lucy C., born Sept. 27, 1868; Joab T., born April 16, 1871, died April 19, 1873; Frederick A., born Nov. 11, 1873; and Eunice E., born July 30, 1874. The parents took great pains to educate their children well. Mr. Woodward died the day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 26, 1901, the same year his son Gideon died. Mrs. Woodward is still living, and makes her home in Davenport, Iowa.

In all social, public or religious enterprises Mr. Woodward took an active interest. In religious thought he was liberal, while his estimable wife is a member of the Methodist church. Politically, he was a Republican, and held various township offices; for many years was township clerk and also a member of the County Board of Supervisors, and during his term of office the plan of the railroad bridge was submitted. He was a school director for thirty years, and aided largely in the building up of educational institutions. He was president of the Des Moines County Farmers' Mutual Fire and Lightning Insurance Company for ten years, which under his management was very successful. Among the representative farmers and respected citizens of Des Moines county none stood higher in the esteem of all than did Mr. Woodward, and we are pleased to record the sketch of so prominent a gentleman.

Our subject received his education in the district schools, and later attended the school in Burlington for two years. He spent one year on the Pacific Coast, after which he was on the home farm with his father. Feb. 19, 1896, he married Miss Bernice Hathaway, daughter of Charles and Anna A. (De Lashmett) Hathaway, of Flint River township, but now of Burlington. Mrs. Woodward was born March 18, 1872, in Burlington, Iowa. Her father was born in New York and when a youth was brought by his parents to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa; before he had reached his majority he had served three years in the Civil War. After this he was in business in the city of Burlington, but soon bought a farm in Flint River and Union townships, and later in Flint River township, where he was a very successful farmer and where he lived till he retired from active life. Mr. and Mrs. Hathaway now reside at 134 South Central Avenue, in Burlington. He is a Republican, but not a politician. He and his good wife are members of the Presbyterian church.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Woodward three children were born: Homer, Adna, and Maxine.

About the time Mr. Woodward was married he began to farm for himself, and after his father's death he took the old homestead and is one of the practical, prosperous farmers of the township. He is a stanch Republican, but has never been an aspirant for any office, yet always ready to assist his party to the best of his ability. He and his worthy wife are devoted members of the Methodist church, ever willing to aid the cause of Christianity with time, money, or ability. Mr. Woodward has inherited many of the sterling qualities of his departed father, and he is universally respected in his community, where his name is above reproach, and he and Mrs. Woodward enjoy the hospitality of many of the homes of the township and county.

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