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Ringgold County Biographical Sketches

Biographical and Historical Record of Ringgold and Decatur Counties, Iowa
Lewis Publishing Company, 1887. pp. 595-96.


"JAMES W. WOODMANSEE, the first permanent settler of Decatur Township, entered 160 acres of land on section 31, 1849, and built a house, 18 x 30, and in March, 1850, moved his family into it. John Still made a claim in the eastern part of the township prior to Mr. Woodmansee, but remained only a short time, leaving to Mr. Woodmansee the honor of becoming the first permanent settler. He came to Decatur County a poor man, but now owns 243 acres of land, 160 acres being his homestead. A fine brick residence, 27 x 40, has replaced his pioneer house. Mr. Woodmansee was born in Clermont County, Ohio, December 31, 1816, the youngest of six children of James and Agnes (Hammer) Woodmansee, natives of Pennsylvania, and pioneers of Ohio. In 1820 they moved to Jackson County, Indiana, where the mother died in 1829, and the father in 1847. James W. Woodmansee was married October 29, 1835, to Miss Rachel Hammer, a native of Jackson County, Indiana, born November 14, 1819, and for over fifty years she has shared with him life's joys and sorrows. In 1853 Mr. Woodmansee projected one of the county's earliest and most needful enterprises. He built the pioneer grist-mill, not only of the county, but of the southern part of the State, and settlers came a distance of fifty miles to get their grain ground. Mr. and Mrs. Woodmansee have had nine children. The eldest two died in infancy, and the youngest, James, aged one year. Six are living -- Ann, wife of S. A. Millsap, of Hamilton County, Kansas; John, of Grand River Township; Mary, wife of J. W. McLaughlin, of Decatur Township; Reuben S., of Mt. Ayr; George, at home; Susan, wife of W. H. Grayson, of Ringgold County. In politics Mr. Woodmansee was, originally, a liberal Democrat, and now affiliates with the Labor-Reform and Greenback party."

Submitted to the Ringgold County IAGenWeb Project by Christy Jay, email:






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