In 1936, North Dakota started a Historical Data Project recording biographies of the early settlers and pioneers. Allan was interviewed by A O Halvorson of the Data Project several times in the summer and fall of 1936. The following is the biography section of that interview:
Mrs. William Wood of Rolla, North Dakota, was born near Wales, in Stormont County, Ontario, on October the twenty sixth, 1862.
Her father, William Clark Raymond, was a prosperous farmer there, owning a farm of one hundred twenty acres on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. As the writer understands, the situation land there is located in and by "concessions". Concession number one is on the river. Other concessions run back from it and are numbered in order from one up. Mrs. Wood did not know the description of her father's farm, but it must have been located in the first concession, since it was on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. The Grand Sault Rapids ran by the farm. A canal had been constructed around the rapids. A tow path extended along the canal. Barges were towed by the rapids. This canal was just a few rods from the house. The house was a good one, modern in every respect according to the ideas of the times.
Ten acres of the farm were devoted to an orchard in which were to be found apples, plums, a few peaches and pears, raspberries, strawberries and other small fruit. The first two mentioned were the principal orchard crops. The apples were packed unwrapped in barrels and sold for a dollar a bushel. Most of the fruit was disposed of at Cornwall, about ten miles away. A good share of the farm income came from the orchard. Mr. Raymond was an enthusiastic, experienced, and successful orchardist.
Mr. Raymond also raised some hay and grain. He had a few milk cows and a number of young stock, besides horses enough to carry on the farm work.
All in all, the Raymond farm made a good home and a fine place to live.
It is little wonder that his daughter, Mrs. William Wood, missed her old home when she went west and thought that the new country was a wild one. However, she is a patient woman and does no complain, in spite of the fact that at first she was afraid of the Indians here and that she has had to work much harder than she ever did at her old home in Ontario, and what is more, she has at times experienced a lack of ready cash, an order of things she had not previously been accustomed to.
Mrs. Wood did not remember just when her father was born but thought that it was in 1823, at Wales, Ontario. He is English. He died in February, 1893, and was buried at Wales.
The last two years that Mrs. Wood was in Ontario her father gave the orchard over to his son, Oliver Raymond, and established a store in Cornwall and operated it until his death. When he opened this store, he was unable to do hard work any more.
Mrs. Wood's mother, Caroline Elizabeth Kline, was born in Stormont County, Ontario. Mrs. Wood did not know when her mother was born nor when she died. She was buried at Wales, Ontario. She was of Irish descent.
Mr. and Mrs. Raymond had one son and four daughters. The only one of the children that came to North Dakota was Mrs. William Wood. Her brother and all her sisters are dead. She did not remember when there were born nor when they died. They are all buried at Wales, Ontario. Her brother and two of her sisters were married. One sister died in infancy. Mrs. Wood did not remember the name of that one. Her brother's name was Oliver. Her sister Salina Raymond Sherman died when she was about thirty four years old. The other married sister, Charlotte Reardon, died when she was twenty years of age.
When Mrs. Wood was seventeen years old, her father told her one day that now she was old enough to go out and learn some trade so that she would be in a position to earn her own living. It was a hard blow to her to be told this, but she set resolutely to work to learn dressmaking. She did considerable sewing before she was married and has kept it up until in recent years. After she came to Rolla it came to be a habit with several families to bring their sewing to her.
In about 1915, she took up practical maternity nursing in addition to her other work. She had no training in this line, but by experience she gained an enviable reputation as an efficient and reliable attendant. She always called the physician, but sometimes he could not get there on time. In such cases she took care of the situation alone. She recalled particularly one case at Clifford Earl's home in Maryville Township. When it became apparent that the time for the birth of a child was near, she told Mr. Earl to go to Rolla for the doctor. A blizzard was raging at the time. Mr. Earl started out, but was lost before he got out of the yard. Finally he succeeded in reaching Rolla and bringing the doctor back with him, but by that time all was over and everybody concerned doing nicely.
On March the third, 1882, Sarah Raymond was married to William Wood, who was born June twenty fourth, 1860, near Wales, Stormont County, Ontario. He was of Dutch-Scotch origin and became a farmer and drayman by occupation.
His father, Hiram Wood, was a farmer near Wales, Ontario, as well as after he came to Rolette County, North Dakota. Hiram Wood was a Scotchman. He was born at an unknown date near Wales, Ontario, and died about 1901 and was buried at Rolla, North Dakota. He went west in 1882 with his son, Allan, and his neighbors, Levi and Edgar Markell and Frazer Brassard. They all located in Fairview Township, Rolette County, Dakota Territory. In 1883, some more of his children followed after him to the west. In 1884, he returned to Ontario and brought back with him his wife and daughter, Alice, and son, Colburn.
William Wood's mother, Mary Markell, was also born near Wales, Ontario. She was of Dutch extraction. Mrs. Wood did not know the date of her birth. She died about 1898 and was buried at Rolla, North Dakota.
Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Wood had twelve children, six boys and as many girls. All the girls and all the boys but one were married.
The boys were Allan, James, Albert, William, George, and Colburn. The girls were Adelaide Hamilton, Margaret Stata, Elresa Finlayson, Ellen Westmiller, Annie Fernyhough, and Alice Richardson.
Of the boys, William died in 1930 and was buried at Rolla, North Dakota. The only unmarried son, Colburn, died in about 1901 and was buried at Rolla. Allan lives on his homestead in Fairview Township about four miles north of Rolla. James is at Laduc, Alberta, Canada, and Albert is at Edmonton in the same province. George is an inmate of the State Hospital for the Insane at Jamestown, North Dakota.
Of the girls, Adelaide Hamilton died in 1929 in Alberta, Canada. Margaret Stata died in 1900 and was buried at Wales, Ontario. Elresa Finlayson lives at Killarney, Manitoba, Canada, Ellen Westmiller at Mandan, North Dakota, Annie Fernyhough at Hansborough, North Dakota, and Alice Richardson at Armourdale, North Dakota.
William Wood never entered the army or the navy.
Mr. and Mrs. William Wood have never had any children.
When Mr. and Mrs. William Wood and their party left their former home Stormont County, Ontario, they came by mixed train to Manitou, Manitoba, Canada, then the end of the line. There were on the train about three days.
Not having wagons and teams enough to take all their belongings with them on the first trip out, they stored part of them in a granary at Manitou. When Mrs. William Wood went in to see what kind of place it was she saw a cat lying on top of a fanning-mill. She picked up the cat and began to pet it. A boy belonging to the place saw this and asked her if she liked cats. She replied that she did and he told her she could have the cat if she wanted it. She took the cat along. It was a female. A short time afterwards it had a litter of kittens. Thus, Mrs. Wood became instrumental in not only bringing the first cat into the community, but also supplying her neighbors with their first specimens of the feline species.
They drove with a team of horses from Manitou to Rolette County, spending three days on the road. The first night they lodged with a bachelor. The second night they stayed with a lady who later moved to Rolette County and came to be known as Mrs. Craig. Mrs. Wood believed that at the time she and her party stayed there the lady's name was Mrs. Duncan. On the third day out of Manitou they arrived at Allan Wood's claim in Fairview Township, Rolette County, Dakota Territory.
In the party with Mr. and Mrs. William Wood were Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Wood and daughter, Alice, and son, Coburn, Gordy Markell, and his wife, Johnny Doran, and one of the McKinnon boys.
Among the household articles they brought with them from Ontario were a drop leaf table, a cook stove with the oven on top and long rear legs and short front ones, and clothing of all descriptions, such as women's dresses, men's suits, woolen underwear, woolen stockings and mittens, overalls, jackets, quilts, sheets, and blankets. Of clothing they brought so much along that they did not buy any for several years. Mrs. William Wood also had along dress goods, shirting and denim. And when John E. Brown a short time later came over from Ontario, her father sent along with him a large box of dress goods, flannel, and yarn. Out of this she made clothing for herself and for her husband, such as dresses, underwear, shirts, jackets, overalls, stockings, and mittens. Mrs. Wood said that her father was always so thoughtful of her and so kind to her, even sending her some ready money at times to help her out.
Mrs. William Wood also had along a sack of dried apples. Although they did not think so much of them at her old home in Ontario, out here they tasted very good. In Ontario they dried the apples in the kitchen by spreading them out on racks placed above the kitchen stove. They organized paring bees which generally ended up with a party and dance in the evening. "Oh, we had a good time there!" Mrs. Wood said.
William Wood's father, Hiram Wood, as stated, had come to Rolette County in 1882. He picked out a piece of land on which William filed, namely; the south east one fourth of the northwest quarter and the east half of the southwest quarter of section twenty-eight and the north east one fourth of the northwest quarter of section thirty three of township one hundred sixty three and range sixty nine, which later became known as Fairview Township.
Willaim Wood's brother, Allan, who had been in the locality for two years, had the logs already hauled out for a shack for William, when Mr. and Mrs. Wood arrived there in 1884. They remained at Allan's shack for two or three weeks until a house had been built on their own land. The shack was twelve by sixteen feet with one window on the west side, one on the south, and a door to the east. It had a sod roof. It was plastered on the inside with sand and lime and on the outside with clay. The outside was whitewashed with ashes. This made it look good, although the ashes easily washed off when it rained. They occupied this house for seven or eight years, or until after the land was proved up. A patent was issued to William Wood on this land in 1891.
Kerosene was used for light. Whenever they ran out of coal oil or when they wanted to save on it, they burned candles. These had been sent over from Ontario by Mrs. Wood's father.
Wood was used for fuel. It was hauled from the Turtle Mountains where the people generally took whatever wood they needed.
Groceries were obtained from F. Martineau at St. John. Mrs. Wood could not remember the price on any of the commodities used. In place of coffee they used tea.
They had a cellar for their perishables.
Water was difficult to find. They dug wells on their farm, but found no permanent supply of water. In summer they hauled it from sloughs, while they melted snow in winter. Hiram Wood finally got a good well on his place. After that they hauled water from there.
For recreation they had spelling matches once a week, going from farmhouse to farmhouse with their contests. They organized the Blue Ribbon Temperance Society which met twice a month. Edgar Markell and Frazer Brassard were the leaders in this organization.
They read the Cornwall (Ontario) Freeholder, and the Montreal Weekly Star.
Neighborhood parties and dances were frequently held around in the different homes.
They attended Fourth of July celebrations. Mrs. Wood could remember especially one such celebration held in Rolla after that city was established, although she did not recall the year. At this particular one there was trouble with the Indians. She could give no details as to what actually happened, but she was so upset on that day that she was sick in bed the day after from the effects of what she had seen. She saw many bandaged and bloody both whites and Indians. She did not know what the uproar was about, but she had heard that the Indians had tried to break into a hotel, she did not know which one.
Mrs. Wood had no idea as to how, when or why Fairview Township got its name
The first white child born in Fairview Township might have been May Bush, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lindsey Bush.
The first couple married were probably Sam Boyd and Maffie McKinnon who now reside at Williston, North Dakota.
The first death in the township might have been that of Mrs. Hiram Wood who died of black erysipelas.
Mrs. Wood was not certain as to the accuracy of any of the last three statements above and she could give no dates.
Some of the pioneer neighbors of Mr. and Mrs. William Wood were Hiram and Allan Wood, Levi and Edgar Markell, Frazer Brassard, John Hunt, John Doran and William Doran, John E. Brown, Thomas Robertson, William Galloway, Archie Moss, Thomas Hesketh, and David Stata.
Of these the following were here before Mrs. Wood: Hiram and Allan Wood, Levi and Edgar Markell, Frazer Brassard, and William Galloway. Out of these only Allan Wood and Edgar Markell are now living, the former on his old homestead in section twenty nine in Fairview Township and the latter at Hansborough. According to recent reports Edgar Markell has suffered a stroke which paralyzed him so that he cannot be interviewed.
Hence the earliest settler in Fairview Township now living is Allan Wood.
To Mrs. William Wood's knowledge the following were the first ones in their respective lines in St. John:
Merchants, F. Martineau & William Clark
The only extinct post office she knew of was Boyd or Boydton of which David C. Boyd was postmaster. This was located a short distance north of the present City of Rolla and was discontinued when the new town was established and its name settled upon as Rolla.
The first school in Fairview Township was the Robertson School in section twenty nine. It was built in 1885 or '86. She did not know what grades were taught. There were about ten or twelve pupils from the Robertson, Ward, and Wood families. The pupils walked to school, the farthest ones away about a mile and a half. The first teacher in this school was probably Bridget McFadden in 1885 or '86. She may now be living in British Columbia, Canada. She was likely paid by the district, but Mrs. Wood did not know how much. The second teacher might have been Carrie Moss, whose present address Mrs. Wood did not know, if she is still living. Seven months was the usual school term, taught during the summer. The three R's were the subjects generally taught. One of the school board members was Hiram Wood. She could not remember the names of the others nor the time when any of them served. She did not know what test books were used nor who furnished them. She did not know who built the school house, how much the building or land cost nor from whom the latter was secured. The school house was made of logs with a shingled roof. It was about sixteen by twenty four feet in dimentions with two windows on each side and one door. It was furnished with factory made double desks and seats combined, and a box stove. Mrs. Wood did not know how long this building was used, what condition it is in now, or how it is now used, if it is still in existence. Being that there were no children in her family she did not pay as much attention to school matters as others did who had children.
Mr. and Mrs. Wood were Episcopalians. No congregation of that faith was organized among the neighbors of Mrs. Wood. She did not remember when the first service was held, but Rev. Johnson from Killarny, Manitoba, Canada, held services in the different homes about twice a month. The first service was held in Hiram Wood's house. Rev. Johnson served them about two years. He was probably paid by the church mission. Four families generally attended these services, namely; Hiram Wood, Allan Wood, William Wood, and Archie Moss.
Neither Mr. nor Mrs. William Wood ever held any public office of any kind.
Mrs. William Wood stated that her husband never liked to leave the old surroundings in Ontario. He wanted his father to give him a piece of land near the old place there, but the latter objected to that arrangement, as there was free land to get in Dakota Territory. For some reason or another it seems that William Wood did not do so well financially as might have been desired. Whether this fact may be attributed or not to his dislike for moving is a mooted question.
During the writer's first interview with Mrs. Wood she said that her husband did not prove up on his claim. When, in the second interview she was told that according to the official records in the Register of Deeds office in the Court House at Rolla, North Dakota, a patent had been issued to him in 1891, she replied that now that she was reminded of it, she seemed to remember that he had made final proof after all. She did not recall whether or not it had been sold or how it had been disposed of. In the first interview she stated that they stayed on their land for three years, but corrected this later by saying that they must have remained there, until they had proved up. Be that as it may, they went to Waukopa, Manitoba, Canada and worked on farms there and at other places in Manitoba, until 1905 when they returned to Rolette County, North Dakota. One year Mr. Wood operated an elevator at Plumb Coolie, Manitoba, while Mrs. Wood cooked in a hotel in the same town.
After they came back to Rolette County they stayed with Allan Wood for two years. For the next five years they worked for John E. Brown on his farm near where their own had been. In 1918 they moved to Rolla, North Dakota, where Mrs. Wood is still living. At that time Mr. Wood had a team of horses. [editor's note; the horses were named Pansy and Pride.] He began doing some draying in town besides other odd jobs that he could find.
When the Farmers and Merchants Bank in Rolla closed its doors in 1923 or 1924, Mr. and Mrs. Wood had fourteen hundred dollars on deposit in that bank. They lost all this, practically all they had besides their house and lot. This was a hard blow to both of them. Mr. Wood never really got over it and Mrs. Wood is still effected to some extent by the loss. She is not in very good health at present (November, 1936) having recently suffered a slight stroke. A Niece of her husband is staying with her.
Mr. and Mrs. William Wood were hard workers and saving in their habits. Mrs. Wood is held in high esteem for her efficiency and pluck.
Indians and half-breeds would often come to the home of Mr. and Mrs. William Wood begging for something to eat. Mrs. Wood was afraid of them. If she was alone when they came, she would lock the door and go down in the cellar and stay there until they left. They would knock at the door a few times and then go away again. Two and three one-horse carts would often come at one time, all full of men, women, and children. When Mr. Wood was home the Indians were allowed to come in, as he was not afraid of them. They always ate a hearty meal. But they were not satisfied with that. After they had filled their stomachs to capacity, they filled their pockets with whatever was left on the table. One time Mr. Wood was in the barn when a band of Indians came and asked if they could come in and get warm and have something to eat. It was late in the fall and quite cold. Mr. Wood put their horses in the barn and invited them into the house. Mrs. Wood was short on bread that day, but they had lots of potatoes and Mr. Wood told her to put on and boil a kettle full of them for their visitors. She did so. After they had eaten all they could the Indians put the rest of the potatoes in their pockets.
In the writer's opinion the Indians and half-breeds did not act this way because they were lacking in manners or because they were excessively hungry, but because they were all the time running a bluff on the whites. The Indians have always and in all places resented the coming of the whites and the natives here were no different from those in other parts of the country. They regarded the area around the Turtle Mountains as theirs and were determined to show the whites that the latter had no right to be here. When the Indians took the left-overs on the table with them, they simply meant to intimate to the whites that everything around here, even down to the food on the tables of the whites, belonged to them and that they, out of pure grace, allowed the whites to remain.
Mrs. Wood did not learn much about the life and the habits of the Indians. She thought that they lived in tepees both in winter and summer.
On summer evenings the sound of their tom-toms could be heard emanating from their camp on the eastern edge of the Turtle Mountains. To Mrs. Wood the music appeared mournful and spooky. She was not used to Indians and always thought that they were preparing for trouble when they beat their drums and danced. When reminded of the fact that playing their drums and dancing was mostly a religious ceremony with them and seldom portended war, she said that that might have been true, but that she was afraid of them just the same.
Prairie fires were common when Mr. and Mrs. Wood first came out here. They destroyed haystacks, but Mr. Wood knew of no houses having been consumed. The pioneers often had to go out and fight them in order to prevent the fires from getting the better of the situation. Firebreaks were plowed around haystacks and the shacks, but they were not always made wide enough to stop the flames. Grain fields were small and the prairie was covered with a heavy growth of grass. It was especially tall and thick in the meadows. Mrs. Wood could not remember any prairie fire about which she could furnish a story.
In 1888 there was a heavy frost that destroyed practically all the crops
There were many severe blizzards in the early days, but none that left any particular or lasting impressions on her memory.
Crop yields varied. Potatoes always yielded well, from two to three hundred bushels to the acre. Wheat went twenty five to forty bushels and acre. One of Mrs. Wood's neighbors thrashed ninety bushels of oats to the acre one year.
Anthony Messner started a flour mill on the edge of the Turtle Mountains west of the Wood's home. Later he moved it to Rolla, when that town had been established, in 1888.
North Dakota Historical Project, Pioneer Biography Files 1936-1940 Micro film F635.P56 1988 Roll 24