Although I cannot remember a time when I was not fascinated by the stories told about my early Texas ancestors, until I actually started researching my family in 1987, no one ever told me about Gracy Treat or showed me the photograph of her.
That was about the same time that my grandpa, Clarence Lee Wood, dug out the Wood family Bible from his grandma’s trunk. The Bible records Gracy’s birth on 9 March 1831. Funny how something simple like a fact written on a page in a book can become so much more than that. Gracy’s half sister, Sarah, was born sometime in 1832 to her father, Stephen Henry Treat, and his second wife, Sarah Frances Reece. Stephen and his bride, Isabella Wood, had barely one year together when she died, most likely when Gracy was born in Monroe County, Indiana.
Gracy married Jackson A. Wood on 5 July 1847. Were it not for that old Bible, we would not know the date because no civil record has been found. They may have been married in Pulaski County, Missouri where Stephen Treat, his brother-in-law, Henry Reece, and Gracy’s Wood grandparents, James and Martha (Miller) Wood lived on Wood’s Fork of the Gasconade River in the 1840s. The “History of Newton County, Arkansas” states “Jackson Wood, a farmer, born in TN, 1815, and Grace his wife, born in IN, came to Arkansas in 1848.”
One of Gracy’s nephews, Huston Treat, was interviewed by Bonnie Jones. In this interview, he mentions that Jackson and Gracy (Treat) Wood were “kin.” “The Reece Connection” states that I believed that Jackson was a brother of Isabella Wood. I hope I never said that, but I have to say that I cannot prove that he was not Gracy’s uncle. After twenty-seven years, I am still searching for Jackson’s family.
Jackson and Gracy were illiterate. So who made the entries in the Bible? Since my family line has the Bible, I believe it must have been my second great grandpa, James William Curtis Wood, born 28 November 1853 in Marion County, Arkansas, who made the entries. In 1870, the family was living in Big Flat, Searcy County, Arkansas, and sixteen-year-old J.W.C. “Curt” was attending school.
Although the Bible lists the birth dates for many people, the relationships are unclear, so supplemental research was necessary to interpret the records. Jackson and Gracy clearly had at least six children – Stephen, Mary Susan, Sarah Isabel, James William Curtis, Wade Hampton and Amanda Emeline. Purely by chance, we encountered a grave in the Big Flat Cemetery with the inscription, “Martha E. Wood, daughter of A.J. and Gracy Wood, aged 1 mo. 13 dys.” There is a nine-year gap between Martha in 1856 and Wade Hampton in 1865, so it is very likely that there may have been other children who were stillborn or lost in infancy.
The 1880 census raises some confusing questions. Three additional children show up in the family – Anne, Sherman and Nora, ages seven, five and three. While it is not impossible that Gracy bore these children, the census indicates that their mother was born in Illinois. In all other records, Gracy’s birthplace is shown as Indiana. If the Bible was J.W.C.’s, it would have went with him when he married Emily Frances Thompson on 26 January 1874, and he may have become lax about keeping records. That could explain why these children never made it to the Bible records; however, there is the troubling fact of the Illinois births. Could Jackson and Gracy have gone to Illinois for a few years, then returned to Arkansas? Might they have adopted three children? The absence of the 1890 census further obscures the mystery, and the 1900 census does not help either. Gracy said she was married “53 yrs, had 1 child with one living”. All three of those statements are incorrect. Other than a marriage record for an Anne Wood to G.W. Ward 24 December 1900, nothing has been found for the three late-comers to Jackson and Gracy.
Jackson died in 1884 and is buried in the Marshall City Cemetery, Marshall, Searcy County, Arkansas. Gracy sold their land 10 October 1887, and probably rotated living arrangements with the remaining children who lived in Marion and Searcy Counties.
The old Bible did not tell us when Gracy “crossed over.” A series of serendipities led us to her grave at the Old Hurst Teagarden Cemetery on the Lester Jefferson farm southeast of Yellville, Arkansas in September 1990. The threats of ticks, snakes and poison ivy could not keep my mother from braving the overgrown thickets in the abandoned cemetery. She found Gracy, “wife of Jackson A. Wood,” died 16 August 1905.
Of all of my ancestresses who died before I was born, she is the one that I feel that I know the best.
- Wood Family Bible
- Hendricks County, Indiana Marriage Records
- Pulaski County, Missouri, 1840 Federal Census
- Searcy County, Arkansas Land Records
- Van Buren Twp. (Newton) AR – 1850 Federal Census
- Big Flat Twp., Searcy County, Arkansas 1860 and 1870 Federal Census
- Bear Creek Twp., Searcy County, AR 1880 Federal Census
- Union Twp., Marion County, Arkansas, 1900 Federal Census
- “History of Newton County,” by Walter F. Lackey
- “The Reece Connection,” by Woodrow J. Reece and George W. Reece