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Catherine (Ream) Woods
(1830- ? )


Catherine Woods

Courtesy BJW / Find-a-Grave

Catherine (Ream) Woods was born on Jan. 31, 1830 in Ursina, Somerset County, PA, the daughter of Samuel W. and Mary (Rheims) Ream.

In 1850, at the age of 21, she lived at home with her parents. Venturing into the unknown, likely in company with her older brothers Henry and William, Catherine migrated to the Nebraska Territory, arriving in Omadi, Dakota County in August 1858.

On Sept. 23, 1860, at the age of 30, Catharine was joined in wedlock with 39-year-old George T. Woods (Feb. 23, 1821- ? ), a native of Chautauqua County, NY. Elder Smith presided over the ceremony.

George had come to McHenry County, IL on March 9, 1854 and after spending the summer there went to Delaware County, IA where he earned income making wagons. In May 1855 he pushed further into Nebraska with Jacob A. Hillock, settling in Dakota County, and the Dakota County Herald once dubbed him "the first real pioneer of the county." The story of George's harrowing overland voyage into Nebraska was told in detail many years later in an article in the Dakota County Herald (March 12, 1904):

On May 3, 1855, George T. Woods and Jacob A. Hillock arrived in what is now Sergeant Bluffs, foot sore and weary after a tramp from Council Bluffs. They each carried a gun and a knap sack. They stopped with Dr. J.D.M. Crockwell, who afterwards with others founded Dakota City, who kept the hotel there. Leonard Bates and T. Elwood Clark also lived there, their houses being the only ones in the place. The next day he and Hallock looked themselves up claims, and soon after Hallock again footed it to the U.S. land office in Council Bluffs to make the proper filings. He was less foot sore than Woods, the latter stayed and helped other settlers hew logs to put into new houses. Hallock returned in due time, but they had already built some houses and they continued their preparations for settlement. Hallock and Woods purchased themselves a pair of oxen and borrowed another yoke and wagon of some of the other settlers, and on June 16, 1855, Woods started about four oclock in the afternoon for Council Bluffs with the two yoke of oxen and wagon to purchased supplies. It proved a long and very tedious trip, and a part of his experience on that occasion we will relate.

The flies were so bad that he had to travel nights and the mosquitoes were bad at night. About two o’clock the next morning it commenced to rain, and continued to do so for several hours, and Mr. Woods says he never before or since saw such a rain. He kept moving so long as he could keep the trail, being aided by flashes of lightning, but he finally had to give it up, and chained his oxen to a tree that a flash of lightning revealed right by them, and waited for daylight. It got so cold that he nearly perished, and when daylight did come he was so sore and stiff he could hardly move for a time, and before he was able to start a good Samaritan by name of Stillwell came to his relief, a settler living not very far from there, who by some intuition, came along and took care of him and his team, took them to his cabin, called up his wife who had not yet risen, and they put him into the warm bed just occupied by Mrs. Stillwell, and the warmth of the bed and the stimulants they gave him brought him around, so that he was able to go on towards night. His boots were nearly worn out before he started, he bought a pair of moccasins from an Indian and borrowed a pair of corduroy pants. Traveling through the high grass and mud used up his boots and moccasins, and he had nothing to wear on his feet, so Mr. Stillwell gave him a shoe too small and it had to be cut open, and a boot so much too large that he had to fill in around his foot and leg to keep it on at all, but he says he was never so proud of any foot wear he has ever worn as he was of that old shoe and boot, there being no opportunity to get anything of the kind until he could get to Council Bluffs, which he reached in due time. He could and did get everything in way of supplies he wanted except breadstuff, and the morning he reached there the landloard [sic] of his hotel told the boarders not to come back to dinner until they heard the dinner bell ring, as he did not know when or where he would be able to get anything out of which to make bread, but the stage from St. Joe brought some flour and they called dinner about 2 p.m. A teamster brought up some flour also later but Mr. Woods was unable to procure any of it. He went to a baker and held out his hand with $200 gold in it and told him to take enough to pay for one sack of flour, but the baker told him that the whole of it would not be half enough. Flour had only besn [sic] $3 a sack earlier in the season, but the supply was exausted [sic]. The baker learned where he was from and said he had a little second grade flour that the rats had been in that he would let him have ten pounds of but no more for $1. Mr. Woods thanked him but did not take it and was obliged to leave the Bluffs without any flour, The people depended then on getting their supplies by steamboat up the Missouri river, but the river saw so low that season that steamboats were unable to run for a time. Woods says it is a positive fact that Peter Sarpy the Indian trader was able and did ford the Missouri river between Bellvue, Nebraska, and St. Mary’s Iowa, a thing that could not have happened at any other time since the river has been known to the white man.

Woods and Hallock on their way up, on this side of Council Bluffs stopped with a man by the name of Butterfield, a fellow “York state” man, between whom a strong friendship sprang up, because of their coming from the same state. He had a small mill, run by water when there was water, and by horse power at other times. Mr. Woods concluded to see him. Butterfield had no flour but did have some corn and gave Woods the privilege of grinding at night, so he was able to get some meal for their present need and came on back. By the way this same Butterfield was the millwright who built the first saw mill in the county on Omaha creek, near where old Omadi was afterwards located, for Woods and others. On his way back after crossing the Sioux river, he passed through a stretch of country of about eighteen miles, with not a human habitation, and in this stretch he was attacked by wolves. He had nothing to defend himself with except a pitchfork, with this he was able to keep them off his wagon. They followed him for several miles. It was night and quite dark, so he could not tell how many there were, but thought from tha [sic] noise they made there must have been a greater number. He finally got back to Sergeant Bluffs without further mishap, but the memory of the trip will stay with him. Shortly after that he came across the river and located in Dakota county.

George's entry into Nebraska was via a skiff rowed across the Missouri River in company with a French pioneer and two Native Americans of the Blackfeet Nation. That day, he had a meal of wild turkey. A few months later, on Sept. 1, 1855, he brought Chancey A. Horr and Moses Kreps across the Missouri "and they began building a log cabin where Omadi was afterwards located," said Warner's History of Dakota County, Nebraska: From the Days of the Pioneers and First Settlers to the Present Time. "This is supposed to have been the first house erected in the county. They were getting ready to build a saw mill on Omaha creek. Mr. Woods foresaw the coming of future events; he reasoned that a human tide would soon roll across the fertile prairies of Nebraska, and a great quantity of lumber would be required to satisfy the demand. While they were at work a band of Indians came along and took all of their provisions and everything else they could get their hands on, including their boat, 'and,' says Mr. Woods, 'they came every nearly taking our scalps.' They were now left without a mouthful of provisions and without any means of reaching the Iowa shore. They found a dead hawk, which was all they had to eat for three days, when a Frenchman happened to come along with a boat and took them across the river. But this little drawback did not keep them from returning to Nebraska and completing the saw mill, which was put into operation on the 1st of April 1856."

The first board of lumber George cut in the mill sold at $30 per 1,000 feet. Then that fall, in November 1856, they constructed a steam saw mill in Omadi and began a beef butchering business, "killing as high as four beeves in one day, on certain occasions, to feed the hungry travelers who were pouring into the country," said Warner's History.

On Feb. 27, 1857, George started a trip to Colorado, remaining there until the fall of that year, when he returned to Dakota County and presumably met our Catherine Ream.

They were the parents of Ida V. Woods, Fannie Crozier, Halsey G. Woods and Robert A. Woods. Sadly, son Halsey died at the age of seven.

Once married the Woodses moved in 1861 onto a farm later owned by D.Y. Hileman, purchased from George Fangley. Then during the Civil War, George enlisted in the Union Army and was assigned to the 2nd Nebraska Cavalry, Company I, mustering in in October 1862. He remained with the army until his honorable discharge on Nov. 19, 1863. Unlike many other of his wife's relatives of the Ream and Minerd families, he is not known to have received a military pension for his wartime service.

George returned home from military service and farmed for several months until 1864, when he began constructing Oak's Mill about a mile and a half north of Homer, Dakota County. Said Warner's History, "He has from tiem to time been engaged in brick burning -- made the brick used to build the court house, the industrial school building at the Winnebago agency, and many other buildings in the county. Has since been engaged in farming, general merchandising, etc. Was first president of the old settlers' association."

On Aug. 5, 1910, along with her sister in law Almeda Ream, Catherine was pictured and featured in a Herald story headlined "Pioneer Women of the County."


~ Daughter Ida V. Woods ~

Daughter Ida V. Woods lived in Omadi, Dakota County in 1910.


~ Daughter Fannie (Woods) Crozier ~

Daughter Fannie Woods wedded (?) Crozier. In 1910, their home was in Omadi, Dakota County.


~ Son Robert A. Woods ~

Son Robert A. Woods dwelled in LaCrosse, WA in 1910.


Copyright 2002, 2009, 2012, 2014-2017 Mark A. Miner