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John H. Woods

JOHN H. WOODS, Port Jervis, New York.
Among those who, like the fighting 60th, were "the first in the fight and the last to leave it," must be counted John H. Woods, veteran engineer, veteran in the Brotherhood, and always at the front of all things concerning the well-being of his fellow engineers and fellow men. He comes by his railroad predilections very naturally, his father, Samuel H. Woods, having been an engineer on the Erie before him.

Born at Pompton, New Jersey, October 9, 1839, he began his railroad service as an apprentice in the shops at the age of 18, remaining in the employ of the Erie until October, 1858, when (his father going into the service of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western) he went to the D., L. & W. shops at Scranton, and in 1859 began firing on that road, and after six months was promoted to the charge of an engine there, remaining until 1863, in September of which year he entered the ranks of Erie engineers and pulled freight up to February, 1866, from which time and until February 11, 1869, he was on the Lackawanna & Bloomsburg Railroad, and in the service of other roads as engineer. Returning to Port Jervis at the latter date he again entered the service of the Erie, where he has since continuously remained, and since 1887 has had No. 10 eastbound and No. 5 westbound, between Jersey City and Port Jervis.

During all these years Mr. Woods has escaped serious injury except upon one occasion, this being on the night of May 10, 1878, when on his eastbound run his engine was thrown in the ditch by obstructions wilfully placed on the track, and went down a 30-foot embankment, he, together with his fireman and brakeman, barely saving their lives by jumping, but unfortunately in so doing Mr. Woods' leg was broken, and he was kept from his duties for six months in consequence.

In 1864 Mr. Woods identified himself with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, and his actions in all matters relating to the best interests of his fellow engineers have always been such as to well warrant the reputation he bears -- that of being one of its most level-headed advisers. Fully recognizing this, his brother members in 1888 elected him First Assistant Engineer of his division, No. 54, of Port Jervis, which position he filled to perfect satisfaction until 1896, when he was elevated to the station of Chief Engineer, serving in that capacity until 1898, in the meantime representing his division as delegate to the Ottawa Convention. Mr. Woods was an earnest worker in the affair of the "E. B. Thomas," serving as secretary of the association, and giving freely of his time and services to the enterprise, elsewhere fully gone into in this volume.

In 1860, at Scranton, Pennsylvania, Mr. Woods wedded Miss Sarah Hetherby, and they now reside in their own home at Port Jervis. They have had two daughters and one son, one of the daughters being now Mrs. E. V. Swinton, of Port Jervis, and the son residing at home with his parents. While taking the interest of the intelligent American citizen in the affairs of the day, Mr. Woods (to use his owm words) has "never troubled politics," having no ambitions looking toward political preferment. Indeed, his life is bound up in his home, his work, and in the promotion of the best good of his fellow-workers. It is men of his class who make the American locomotive engineers the representative and respected body they have ever been.

Excerpted from: "American Locomotive Engineers, Erie Railway Edition," H.R. Romans Editor; Crawford-Adsit Company Publishers, Chicago, IL 1899.

From the May, 1905 issue of Erie Railroad Magazine
Erie engineer John Woods, of Port Jervis, on Sunday last, made the initial trip of his forty-sixth year as a locomotive engineer. He went on his usual run, Nos. 6 and 3. This is a record of long and faithful service of which any man may well be proud.

From the January, 1908 issue of Erie Magazine (Port Jervis News):
Engineer J.H. Woods was elected First Assistant Engineer of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, Division No. 54, in January 1908.

From the November, 1909 issue of Erie Magazine:
Engineer John H. Woods, who has reached the (70 year) age limit, was retired from the service early in October (1909). His father, the late Samuel Woods, had also been an Erie engineer, and both had also seen service years ago on the DL&W road. Since 1863 John H. Woods has been in the Erie employ, save for a short time when he was with the Lackawanna & Bloomsberg road, and has been in passenger service since 1887. He has been Chief Engineer of the B of LE, Division 54, at Port Jervis, and represented his lodge at the Ottawa Convention.

From the January, 1910 issue of Erie Magazine (Port Jervis News):
Engineer J.H. Woods was reported as Assistant Engineer of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, Division No. 54.

From the September, 1914 issue of Erie Magazine (Port Jervis News):
Erie Crossing Inspector John H. Woods has returned from his annual vacation, which he spent at Highland Lake. "Pop," as he is familiarly known, reports the best time ever; he returns as brown as a berry and very much refreshed by the outing. Mr. Woods is one of the Directors of the Port Jervis Railroad YMCA and Chairman of the House Committee. We were pleased to have him back with us again.

From the January, 1917 issue of Erie Magazine:
John H. Woods, for many years a locomotive engineer on the New York Division, died December 9 (1916) at his home in Port Jervis, after an illness of two weeks, of paralysis. He was 77 years of age.

For twenty-two years he was the regular engineer on trains 3 and 6, and later his run was the Orange County express and other local trains. He retired in 1909, and up to a few weeks before his death was an inspector on the New York Division.

Mr. Woods was an elder of the First Presbyterian Church, secretary and treasurer of Div. 54, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (which he joined in 1864 and which he has represented in several national conventions); chairman of the house committee, member of the board of directors, and of the Bible Class of the Young Men's Christian association.

In publishing the news of Mr. Woods' death, the Port Jervis Union pays him the following handsome tribute:

"He was an excellent citizen and railroad man, and was held in high esteem in the community in which he had so long been a resident."

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