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William W. W. Wood papers

 Collection 0160-MDHC

This collection consists of letters written by William W. W. Wood, pioneer of the steam navy, thirty-five year naval veteran, and resident of Washington, DC, to A. L. Taveau, the overseer of Wood's farm "Jutland," located in St. Mary's County, Maryland. Wood discusses purchases he has made for the farm, fertilizing, marketing, transportation problems, crops, machinery, agricultural pests, and Taveau's impending resignation. Wood also describes his dealings with dishonest businessmen, his plans to travel to "Jutland," and various family matters.


  • 1879-1881

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


26 Items

Scope and Content of Collection

The William W. W. Wood papers span the dates 1879 to 1881 and consist of correspondence between Wood and his overseer at "Jutland," A. L. Taveau. These letters cover such topics as farming experiments and other activities relating to the work of the farm. The letters also include information on Wood's health and that of his family, business dealings with various individuals, and the need to find a new overseer.


William W. W. Wood was born in North Carolina. He received a commission in the U. S. Navy on March 15, 1845, entering with the rank of chief engineer. During his thirty-five year naval career, Wood was stationed at various naval installations and had a number of special duty assignments. His first post was the Navy Yard in Pensacola, Florida (1845-1847); he also served on the steam-frigate Saranac (1850-1853), the steam-sloop Lancaster (1859-1861), and in the New York Navy Yard (1868-1869). Wood's special duty assignments included Boston (1849 and 1864), Philadelphia (1858-1859 and 1862), New York (1863 and 1865), and the Naval Academy (October 1865-May 1867 as head of the steam engineering department). Described as a pioneer of the steam navy, Wood oversaw the construction of the engines of the steam-frigate Merrimac at Cold Spring, New York (1854-1857) and also served as inspector of machinery afloat (New York, 1870-1872) and engineer-in-chief of the Navy from 1872 to 1877. His last duty was as the chief engineer in the Bureau of Steam Engineering, Department of the Navy, with the rank of commodore. He was placed on the navy retirement list May 18, 1880. At the end of his naval career, Wood resided in Washington, D.C., at Ebbitt House.

William Wood was married and had five children, three daughters and two sons. All of his daughters married navy lieutenants and one son, Lieutenant Thomas Wood, served in the United States Marine Corps. He also was a stockholder in the Island and Seaboard Coasting Company.

During his naval career, Wood was the owner of "Jutland," a 520-acre tract of land located on Smith Creek in St. Mary's County, Maryland. "Jutland" produced hay and wheat and Wood also raised geese and hogs for market. He was very concerned with making "Jutland" a better-paying proposition and conducted fertilizer experiments to determine whether deposits of oyster shell and "blue" sand found on his property could be beneficial as a fertilizer for his corn crop. Wood also investigated the possibility of growing sugar cane and producing sugar at a profit and experiment with the McSherry Grain Drill, an improved farm implement for distributing grain and fertilizer.

On August 31, 1882, while crossing Smith's Creek in St. Mary's County, Maryland, with H. S. Taveau, their boat capsized. Although Taveau made an effort to rescue him, Wood drowned. His body was returned to Washington, D. C., on September 2, aboard the steamer "George Leary." Funeral services were held four days later at the Epiphany Church in Washington with great military pomp. The Marine Band and a detachment of one hundred marines escorted the funeral procession to Rock Creek Cemetery, where Wood was buried.

Accounts of Wood's death appear in the Washington Post, Saturday, September 3, 1882, St. Mary's Beacon, Tuesday, September 7, 1882, and the September 9, 1882, Army and Navy Journal.


The papers are arranged into one series

Series 1

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The University of Maryland at College Park Libraries purchased the papers of William W. W. Wood from Charles Apfelbaum in 1991.

Processing Information

One series was formed from the papers of William W. W. Wood. The materials have been placed in an acid-free folder and box.

Guide to the William W. W. Wood Papers
Processed By: Cynthia Cory.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742