Collection 244 - Autobiography of James David Wood, ca. 1964
Creator: Wood, James David, 1841-1909
Provenance Note: An edited typescript prepared by Stanley R. Davison, Dillon, Montana, from an original document was donated to Montana State University by Davison in 1964.
Historical Note: Stanley Roland Davison was born May 6, 1911, in East Helena, Montana. He received a doctorate from the University of California and served in the Navy during World War II and Korea. Davison's spent most of his academic career at Western Montana College in Dillon, Montana where he worked for thirty years. He wrote a number of articles on Montana history and received an award from the Daughters of the American Revolution for his contributions to Montana history, research, and study. He died on May 14, 1986.
James David Wood was born in 1841 at Mercer County, Missouri. In 1864 he traveled from Atchinson, Kansas to Virginia City with a freight outfit, working his way as a mule herder. Once in Montana Territory, Wood tried his hand at mining and other jobs, eventually moving to Idaho to again engage in mining in the Leesburg area. During the Nez Perce war he was one of the first on the scene of the "Birch Creek Massacre," a freighting team that was killed by the Nez Perce in present day Clark County, Idaho. During the Bannock War of 1878 he was a participant in a fight involving a freight wagon team in the Lost River valley where a comrade, Jesse McCaleb, was killed. Wood became a successful businessman in Salt Lake City towards the end of his life, owning mining interests in Utah, Nevada, and Idaho, along with a mercantile operation in Salt Lake City itself. He died on January 17, 1909.
Content Description Note: In 1902, James David Wood wrote a brief autobiographical sketch of his life. The document remained in the family and was eventually passed down to the D. V. Hagenbarth family of Dillon, Montana. In 1964 the manuscript was borrowed by Stanley Davison for transcription and editing, and then returned to the Hagenbarth family. Davison reviewed the sketch and found historical discrepancies which he noted. Wood's story gives an outline of his trip to Montana in 1864, his early residence in Virginia City, his experiences in the Nez Perce and Bannock wars, and a brief outline of his business ventures. Davison never published the manuscript, and the present location of the original is unknown.