A veteran of the Civil War and one time resident of the Hopedale community, Josiah Wood tried his hand at several lines of work during his life, including tin-peddler, farmer, and carpenter.
The Josiah Wood Papers consist primarily of letters between Wood, living in Hopedale and New Bedford, Massachusetts, and his relatives in Philadelphia and elsewhere in the northeastern and western parts of the country. While some of the correspondence contains references to larger-scale historical events, such as the Civil War or westward expansion, the majority concerns events and routines of everyday family life. The letters illustrate the considerable effort made to keep in touch with and informed about distant family members and friends.
The collection is open for research.
Born in the New York state in 1832, Josiah Wood was a resident of the utopian Christian Socialist community of Hopedale, Massachusetts, in 1854. Shortly before or during the Civil War, he married Lurana P. Mosher, with whom he had four children: Lyneus (1866?), Cameron (1871?), Avis M. (1874), and Cortez (1876?). During his life, Wood was employed in a number of different occupations, at different times listed as a tin-peddler, farmer, and carpenter, and in the 1880 census as a merchant. He was a soldier, as well. During the Civil War, he served in Company D, 27th Massachusetts Infantry, sustaining an arm injury in 1864 that required hospitalization at Annapolis Junction.
The Josiah Wood Papers (1854-1874) consist primarily of letters between Josiah Wood, living in Hopedale and New Bedford, Massachusetts, and his siblings in Philadelphia, as well as extended family and friends in the Northeastern and Western parts of the country, including Massachusetts, Vermont, Chautauqua County (N.Y.), and Wisconsin. Beginning shortly after the death of Josiah's father, the letter contain only a few references to larger-scale historical events such as the Civil War or westward expansion, the majority concerning the events and routines of everyday family life. These letters document births, sickness, marriages, and deaths, with the correspondents exchanging information about their work, business opportunities, wages, land prices, and other timely topics, such as Spiritualism and temperance. More importantly, though, these letters document the relationships of family members, and they illustrate the considerable effort made to keep in touch with relatives and friends.
Wood's chief correspondents are his sister, Sarepta, and brother, Nathan, both of whom lived in Philadelphia. Other correspondents include Josiah's sister, Lillis, who died after several months of illness apparently related to an accident; his father's brother, Josiah Wood, a wagon maker in New York State; his cousin Ormond A. Mack and uncle T.J. Mack, who moved west in 1856. A number of letters written during the Civil War contain references to soldiers, some recuperating in federal hospitals.
Apart from Josiah's correspondence, the collection includes letters to Lurana Wood from her mother Lizzie, sister Abbie, and brother Loren in 1869, all written during a visit to Philadelphia. Finally, the collection contains religious writings by an unidentified author, accounts and addresses, calling cards, and about 20 envelopes.
Collection processed by Astrid Recker, November 2007.
Purchased from Carmen Valentino in 1992.
Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:
Josiah Wood Papers (MS 363). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.