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John Wesley Woody
and
Axey Elizabeth [Seabolt] Woody

WoodyWith regard to the Civil War; I'm sure many of you, have heard and read the statement " It pitted father against son and brother against brother". The stories that you will read here are a classic example of such a predicament within a family. While we may have more information regarding this family's turmoil, it should be remembered that they were not unique by any means. In fact, the area in which they lived had about as many Union supporters as Confederate. One can only speculate as to what would have happened to this Nation had the Confederacy been successful.

Some may not be familiar with the problem that developed between John Wesley, Jr. and Josiah Woody who were brothers. Briefly, here are some of the stories that tell how this all came about.

John Wesley Woody (from the book" North Georgia Journal Of History")

"The problems of desertion and resistance to conscription became worse in spite of attempts to eliminate them. John Woody was brought before the courts charged with the crime of "Treason." Again, William R. Crisson took down the testimony of the sworn witnesses. Josiah Woody said he had heard the prisoner say" the North would ship us....that I would be burned out, that the army was all deserting and coming home.... he wishes the confederacy to be subjugated and that we should be whipped. I believed him to be a kind of counselor for the deserters." Other testimony in the hearing showed that several deserters from the army were living on or near Woody's place outside of Dahlonega and worked on his farm. When Woody was called upon to testify in his own behalf, his only statement was "I did not begin the war and would not fight if I could help it." Woody was brought before the Grand Jury and the December, 1863 term of court. An indictment was returned against him and he was tried the following day. The jury rendered its verdict: "The defendant arraigned and pleaded not guilty. We the jury find the defendant not guilty." In 1874, John Woody became postmaster at the Dahlonega Post Office and served until 1876"

 

John Wesley Woody by Thelma Nelson Perry

  John Woody (b1781) was arrested and tried for treason in Dahlonega, Lumpkin Co.,Georgia, by the Confederacy. Soon After this, His son, John Wesley Woody Jr., was also tried for the same crime. A wagon load of corn was to be sold to pay the lawyer of John Wesley Woody Jr., But one of John's children heard the lawyer talking to some men outside the courthouse, that he would get the corn and hang John Wesley too. So the child told his mother, who told John Wesley, he then defended himself.   He pleaded his own case, and both men were freed. Afterwards, John Wesley Woody with his son Aaron and the Caldwell boy(Who's father had been dragged to death by the home guard), went to the hills. They dug a cave in the cane break and hid there until after his baby, Abraham Lincoln was born.

The Woman helping John Wesley's wife was sympathetic to the south and had arranged a signal, (a diaper hanging outside the house) to show when John came home for the birth of the child. This signal was seen by Rausey, wife of Josiah Woody. Wearing only a chemise, she ran thru a short cut thru the woods, crying out to John Wesley as she ran into the house," Run, John Wesley, the diaper is a signal and Josiah and his men are coming to capture you." As John Wesley ran from the house he called back," If the baby is a boy, Name him Abraham Lincoln."

He went back to the cave and hid. All night the home guards roamed the area trying to find John, his son, Aaron and the Caldwell Boy. Later, When Josiah and his men returned to the house of John Wesley's wife, the midwife told them that the baby had been named Abraham Lincoln and was hidden in a corn meal barrel. One of the home guard grabbed the baby from the barrel and was going to bash its brains out on the fire place chimney. Only the crying and pleading of the women and children prevented this, and the baby's life was saved. At the first chance, John Wesley Woody left the cave and went through the mountains to join the Union Army, at Nashville on Feb 15,1864.

  On the way, far up in the mountains, an old lady by the name of Woody(but not related), gave John and the boys corn bread and meat to eat. She gave them all the meat and bread she had. She stuffed their  pockets with cornbread and gave them the last piece of meat in the place and then urged them to go on. During the war, His wife Axey, only heard about them by word of mouth, except once when John Wesley Woody sent gold coins to Axey for their family. Union money could not be used in the south, so she drilled a hole in the log wall, stuffed in the coins, and then put a peg in the hole and hung clothes on the peg.

After the war was over John Wesley Woody returned home, but he always saw to it that Mrs. Woody
of the mountains was always cared for.


Years after the war Rausey went back to Georgia to visit. Upon returning to Kansas, her Georgia Relatives filled her trunk with dried apples. In Barnard,Kansas later with Marie Stover Black's Mother during a visit they Spoke of the birth of Abraham Lincoln Woody.

Thelma Perry Nelson

My thoughts;



Josiah's brother John, Jr. and his father, John, Sr. were both Union sympathizers. Both Josiah and John, Jr. were in the Confederate Army early on and, due to Josiah's becoming a minister of the Gospel, he was given an honorable discharge and returned home to Dahlonega but remained loyal to the Confederate cause. John, Jr. deserted and renounced the Confederate cause. He returned home and went about his work on the farm where it was said that he offered shelter to other deserters. John, Sr. is said to have been in sympathy with him: " Brother against Brother and Father against Son."

The regrettable development came about because due to Josiah's popularity in the area and friendship with GA's governor, Joseph E. Brown, he (Josiah) was placed in charge of the Home Guard in the area; thus putting him in the position of hunting down his brother. Since the Home Guard had many unsavory members that had no moral inhibitions, John, Jr's life was in danger. He had close calls but managed to elude his would-be captors.


As could be expected, with so many Union sympathizers in the area, it was not long until they formed their own opposition to the Home Guard. There can be little doubt that atrocities were committed by both groups, not necessarily condoned by either leader but due to the rag-tag makeup of such organizations. Apparently conditions became so unpleasant that Josiah decided to go elsewhere and first went to Elbert Co. GA. While there he was involved in founding and pastoring Churches and continued to do so after removing to the mid-west. All accounts indicate that he was a very effective Minister to the end. Meanwhile John, Jr. thrived in the Dahlonega area of Lumpkin Co. GA. Perhaps in the long run everything worked out favorably for all.


Similar conditions existed within the family of Robert Woody, Jr. Generally the ones who settled around Sugar Hill were on the Confederate side of the dispute, and some of them fought for the Confederacy. My great grandfather, Allen D. Woody and his older brother, John L. who lived in Gilmer Co. GA just a few miles away were very much for the Union side. My grandfather, Robert Willis Woody and a nephew of his, Robert Porter Woody were both Union veterans. Once my grandfather came home from a visit and told his family that he had discovered that the neighborhood bum was a "better fellow" than he had previously believed. They asked why and he said that he found out that the chap was a Republican.

Well, you see politics was pretty strong in these parts during the Civil War and as long afterward as those who endured it, lived. There is still a lot of banter about it but some of it is "tongue in cheek". I guess we can be forgiven for re-living some of their experiences from time to time.

The best to all,

Mark Woody

"Who was the Caldwell Boy?"

Attached Notes to the Woody Story

by Thelma Nelson Perry

March 11, 1976


"Mrs. Jim Stover, Marie's Mother, was Aaron Woody's youngest sister, Axey Eliza Everline Woody. This is referred to as 'My Story' because so many hinted at it, then refused to go on. On my trip to the Georgia Reunion in 1971- Several said, "That's true, But this is part of it too!" I've visited several Union families, but those in Suches and Dahlonega,GA would say nothing about it. Many times I asked our Woody's, who was the Caldwell boy? No one claimed to know. At Walter Woody's, his son Bill gave me an address of ' Marjorie Fouts', saying she was a nice girl. I did write to her. Not long after she sent me a family sheet showing Meredith B. Caldwell, The father, and Winnie Woody, the mother and sister of Josiah and John Woody. This sheet also showed a son , Aarons age, named Daniel Washington Caldwell! I was thrilled yes, and grieved, to think My great grandfather could do and try to do the things he did to his brother and sister and their families!


Anyway, I then sent for Dan Wash. Caldwells military history using the same information I had for John Wesley Woody and Aaron Woodys. I received it, He was a bugler with the same group, John and Aaron were in. I then gathered 'My Story',military records, the family sheet and letters and went back to Ted's, Aaron's son, He listened and read then said, " Thelma you've done a good job, only one place you were wrong, I've heard my daddy talk about it so often. Caldwell,(Dan Wash. Caldwell's father) was not killed by tying him with a rope around the waist and the other end around a saddle horn. He was tied to a mule's tail and kicked to pieces because he was going to join the Union army."


Thelma Perry Nelson

 

 

2016