ABSALOM WOODWARD, Sr., father of the first wife of David Reynolds, was among the earliest emigrants to the southeastern part of Plum Creek township, Armstrong county, which was then in Armstrong township. He came hither from Cumberland county, Pa., in 1788, and settled near what is now Idaho. The first assessment list of Plum Creek township (1811) contains his name as the only innkeeper. He is spoken of as a hardy and energetic man and an enterprising and public spirited citizen, and the various records in which his name appears substantiate this.
At the first court held in the county, in December, 1805, the petition of sundry inhabitants of this county, setting forth that a bridge was much wanted across Crooked creek in Allegheny township at or near the place where the road from Alsalom Wooodward’s to Sloan’s ferry crossed that creek and praying the appointment of viewers, was presented, and they reported the following March that a bridge was much wanted, but the probable expense ($450) was too much for one or two townships to bear.
This was the first application for a county bridge made to the first court held in the county. As no agreement could be reached at the time Mr. Woodward in September, 1806, made what must have been a very large offer for the times -- to advance the money that might be appropriated for the structure. Though the matter was carried through all the formalities and reported favorably, it is not shown whether the bridge afterward constructed was erected at public or private expense.
On Sept. 21, 1814, the county commissioner issued an order for $137; $33 for repairing the bridge across Crooked creek at Mr. Woodward’s house, and on Sept. 24, 1818, another petition from the inhabitants of Plum Creek township appears in the court records, for steps to be taken toward replacing the bridge, which had been swept away by the flood in February. The second schoolhouse within the limits of the township was erected on land belonging to Mr. Woodward, about fifty rods east of what was known as Idaho mill, in the southeast part of the township. He was also active in religious matters, giving largely of his means to the aid and support of church work.
He built a log church near Smith Bend. A generous man in all the relations of life, he was considered a faithful friend by all who knew him, and was highly esteemed by all his neighbors for his many admirable qualities. The ancient map of Armstrong county shows a tract of 290 acres in Plum Creek township to have been seated by him; a tract of 157.5 acres survey (sic) to him and seated by George Smith; a tract of 302 acres surveyed to George Campbell and subsequently owned by Mr. Woodward.
He came to own 191 acres of the Robert Elder tract (afterward owned by his son Robert). On March 18, 1823, he conveyed to his daughter Mary, wife of David Reynolds, the consideration expressed in the deed being "good-will and affection," a tract which had been conveyed to him by James Carnahan. On Jan. 11, 1858, 111 acres, 24 perches of this tract was conveyed by her son Alexander Reynolds to Martin John.
Absalom Woodward died in 1833. He was survived by eight of his thirteen children, two of whom died in early life. His sons were Robert, Sharp, and Absalom, his daughters Mrs. David Reynolds, Mrs. Leonard Shryock, Mrs. Richard Graham, Mrs. Anthony Montgomery (mother of Sheriff Montgomery), Mrs. William D. Barclay, Mrs. James Todd, Mrs. William Clark (mother of Sheriff Clark) and Mrs. Johnston.
Jane, Mrs. Montgomery, was the last survivor of this family, and was living in 1883, in her eighty-first year. Of the sons, Robert owned a farm and gristmill, and we find that his steam gristmill in Plum Creek was destroyed by fire Dec. 29, 1838, together with two carding machines belonging to James C. Fleming, and 1,800 bushels of grain which the people of the surrounding country had deposited there.
Source: Pages 392-393, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and
Present, J. H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed July 1998 by Joyce Sherry for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Published 1998 by the Armstrong County Pennsylvania Genealogy Project