Who was Richard H. Wood?
By Pam Stranahan
Aransas County Historical Commision chair
The post-Civil War era saw the growth of Rockport and the emergence of Richard H. Wood as a significant business and civic leader.
Richard H. Wood served during the Civil War in the Company B, 29th Brigade Texas Militia for Refugio County (also known as Captain Daniel C. Doughty’s Spy Company). When he returned to Refugio County, he sought business ventures in addition to his family’s interests. He was in partnership with J.M. Doughty for the first holding pens, warehouse and wharf at Rockport harbor and was active in the Aransas Pass Land Company. Wood and Doughty surveyed the north section of Rockport and their names remain on many deeds today. Richard Wood’s son, Will Welder Wood, was the second child born in Rockport on May 24, 1871.
Richard H. Wood was appointed alderman for the Rockport town council in 1870, later served as mayor, and was the first commissioner over wildlife laws appointed by Governor Thomas M. Campbell in 1907. This commission evolved into the Texas Game and Fish Commission. Richard H. Wood and Samuel B. Allyn formed a partnership to acquire St. Joseph’s Island. This cattle partnership lasted until Richard Wood and his son, Will Welder Wood, became the sole owners. The 1919 hurricane wiped out many Richard H. Wood holdings and eventually cost him and his sons their cattle ranch. Richard Wood, and his sons Will and Tobias, had 6,400 head of purebred Hereford cattle ready for shipment on St. Joseph Island when the hurricane carried the animals out to sea which was a significant loss. St. Joseph’s Island was sold in 1922 to Cyrus B. Lucas.
John Howland Wood, father of Richard H., reportedly died in the house at 203 N. Magnolia Street in 1904. His history and career in Texas are legendary. As a member of the New York Battalion, he volunteered for the Republic of Texas Army at San Jacinto then served as quartermaster in Victoria. Major John H. Wood began buying ranch land and cattle, which he supplied to General Zachary Taylor during the Mexican War. In 1847 Wood gathered a portion of his inheritance from the East coast, estimated at $60,000, and invested in more land and cattle. He later joined with Joseph F. Smith in developing St. Mary’s on Copano Bay. His Bonnie View Ranch, purchased from Peter Doren, was nearby. A famous two-story residence that still stands in Bayside today was constructed in 1875. Wood owned and operated a general mercantile at St. Mary’s until the 1886 storm wiped out the town. The town of Woodsboro was named in honor of the Wood family who had owned the land. J.H. Wood transferred his interest to Rockport where his son, Richard, had been operating.
The R.H. Wood House at 203 N. Magnolia, will receive a designation as a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1. The ACHC invites everyone to join in this celebration.