Genealogy / History

Sequoia Trees Mantled In Late Spring Snow
Sequoia National Park, California
By Mike Woods

Just a note about the trees in the photo above, in case you've never been there: The "little" trees in the foreground are approximately 12 and 10 feet tall. Gives you some kind of perspective as to what they may look like in 1,500 years; the probable age of their ancestor in the background.

This site will eventually encompass genealogical material associated with the following surnames as well as others not necessarily associated with the Woods Family History.
The Wood(s)' of California, North Carolina, Indiana The Disney's of California and Kansas
The Mankin(s)' Of Indiana, Ohio and Maryland The Mayes' of Kansas
The Drake's of Ohio The White's of Kansas 
The Randall's of Ohio  The McMillion's of Kansas
The Naylor's of Ohio The Ward's of Kansas
The Brewster's of Ohio and Mayflower fame

The Woods Connection Links

Links To Other Sites But First, A Little Dissertation

Anyone researching their family history on the internet knows that thousands of links exist to excellent sites all over the world, but that hard data is somewhat lacking in general. Obviously it will take many hours of transcription, research and web space to supply the voluminous information residing in courthouses, churches, government depositories and archives. My beliefs are probably similar to yours, that everyone doing research on family histories relies on others doing the same for help and advice. The volunteers of the GenWeb and other genealogical sites, as well as the Family History Centers of the LDS and libraries everywhere provide an invaluable service and as a way of returning that service, information garnered during research should be made available to others via existing means. By those of us doing our research. My intent is to supply as much information as I can as related to my research, as well as lists of items that could be helpful to folks looking for that hard data not related directly to my research. The following surnames will be joined by others and more are available here now in the various components of this web site. Take a look. Your surname could be one of those listed in one of the indexes or lists attached. Check back once a month or so as more will be added as time passes.

What's New (Been Added Since October)

On The Woods Connection Home Page:

On the Indiana Connection: On The North Carolina Connection:

        I began this web site, mostly out of a feeling of gratitude toward those helpful and friendly folks of west central Indiana. My first contact with them came via the Parke County InGenWeb site and eventually getting to know them as a group and individually during a genealogical pilgrimage to the land of my Paternal Ancestors. The name Woods is difficult to research and more so due to the untimely death of my Great Grandfather, Albert Woods  and Great Grandmother Harriet Mankin Woods, at an early age in about 1892. They died within days of each other and left behind three sons that became separated at times, and lived with numerous relatives and foster families throughout the Parke County area. All three boys have since passed on and the oldest lost track of in the early 1900s. The only evidence available was a birth certificate for their youngest son Gilbert which offered their names and place of birth, and, of course, family legends and stories. After reaching many dead ends the only hope of furthering my knowledge seemed to be a trip to Parke County. As it turned out my father felt the same way and the entire family, all four of us, My  Mother, Father, brother and myself,  decide on a trip together and made our plans.
    The County seat is Rockville which is centrally located in Parke County and the place of birth of Gilbert, so that seemed a likely place to headquarter ourselves. During the planning stages I found that detailed maps and information about lodging were somewhat difficult to come by, so I've included some basic travel information that may be helpful to anyone else feeling the urge to visit Rockville and surrounding area.
    Parke County is a rural area surrounded by farms growing corn and soybeans, and forested areas. It's crossed by streams which run between slightly rolling green hills and has that unmistakable mid-west ambiance known throughout the country. Parke county was chosen as the site of the Tuberculosis Hospital over many places in the country, forty or so, for it's many assets, clean air, view, accessibility, ect.  in 1911. The western boarder of the county is the Wabash River and it's surrounded by Vigo, Vermillion, Fountain, Montgomery, Putnam and Clay Counties. The main east-west highway is 36 (Ohio Street in Rockville) and the main-north south highway 41 (Lincoln Road) which intersect at the western edge of the town of Rockville.
    Rockville is about an hour west of Indianapolis and forty minutes north east of Terre Haute, the closest big city. The center of town is dominated by the County Courthouse surrounded by the old historical district. To those of us who live in somewhat more cynical areas of the country "Historical District" might imply a touristy spot designed to be a souvenir selling, commercially modern and overly renovated area of town, but in Rockville's case it means the old part of town, kept up, but not overly renovated, and doing what it has done for years; everyday business. The bank, a soda shop, a Hardware store, the Town Hall, Sheriff's Office, a Five and Dime store, a couple of family owned restaurants, a church, and to be sure, a few antique stores, all reside there. But the people are the main thing. They're so friendly that I thought that maybe if they didn't say high, or wave, and got caught, they got fined or something. The Court House staff, the librarians, the Town Hall staff, the local funeral home and the merchants, as well as passers-by were all helpful and unpretentiously friendly. People waved from their front porches when we drove by. Parke County's claim to fame is their covered bridges, of which their rightfully proud, but their real fame should be noted as their people. At this point I'll insert a letter I wrote to Karen Zach, curator of the Parke County InGenWeb Page, describing my trip. Late information has since led me to Fountain Co. IN, just north of Parke Co., and even to North Carolina, where it seems Jonathan Wood(s), Albert's father was born.

Dear Karen,
        I just wanted to let you know that we got back from Indiana the week before last and had a wonderful time. Unfortunately, but not inconvenient at all, it rained on and off the entire nine days we were in Indiana, except for the last day and a half. I guess us Californians' just can't get away from El Nino this year. It turned out that not only did my Dad come along,, but my Mom, and brother Greg who lives in Idaho decided to make the trip with us. Funny how these things work out; my parents from Oceanside at the beach, myself from Palmdale out in the desert and my brother from Coure D' Alene (Post Falls to be precise) have a family reunion in Rockville, Indiana. Hum?
       All the information I got from your Genweb page was extremely helpful. The material that was out for binding got back to the Rockville Library the day before we arrived and the staff really went out of their way to help us. The Visitor Center, Courthouse and Town Hall staffs were incredible as well. We even got involved in the election to the extent that we kept running into Circuit Court Clerk candidate Ms. Simonds every time we turned around, and she recognized us every time. "Vote For
Simonds", that's our motto.
        My brother is a police officer in Spokane and one of the things all the guys do is try to collect arm patches from other police departments around the country whenever they can. So Greg went to the Parke County Sheriff station to see if he could get one of theirs. Too bad, they were at the new jail, but they would get one for him when they went out there next. He checked back with them a couple of times but they kept forgetting to bring one back. The last day we were in town he checked again and they put him in a police car, drove him all the way out to the jail, gave him a tour, a couple of patches, introduced him to the Sheriff, and then instead of locking him up, they drove him back and let him go. Pretty nice of them, huh?
        Everywhere we went folks waved or said hello to us just as if we had lived there our entire lives. I guess what they say about being the friendliest place in the country is true. And the bridges weren't bad either! But I think Parke County and vicinity could also be called the Cemetery Capitol; it seems like there's a million of them. We also visited the library in Terre Haute which is nice (big) and friendly, but just not quite the same as the one in Rockville; if you know what I mean.
        On the weekend, while things were unavailable to us, we did the bridge tours and visited the Ernie Pyle museum in Dana, which was quit a treat for several reasons; the first being that my dad was on Okinawa when Ernie was killed ( as he remembers it, quite a blow to everyone);  Secondly, I have a book of his, "Brave Men", given to my Dad by his Mother, dated and signed 1944, with the article from the Pasadena Star News pronouncing his death taped inside the cover. While there I increased my collection with a copy of another of his books, "Here Is Your War", also signed and dated 1944, but by someone I don't know. Thirdly, the tour gave us a real interesting and informative impression of what life may have been like for our ancestors in the late 1800s.
        It turns out your lead about the Mankin's in the area was right! A Mrs. Craig who lives in Montezuma has written the family history of the clan (which is in the library) and it mentions Harriet, my Great Grandmother, and can be traced back to the early 1700s; possibly to Scotland or Wales. We found a marriage certificate at the court house and helped her fill in some questions she had been looking to answer, for years. We also found grave sites for other Mankin's and obituaries for the last Mankin anyone in the Woods family  had contact with (my Uncle Jim visited her in 1942), Effie Mankin Durr (a great, cousin of mine) and her parents, and talked to two women that knew her. The mother of the local undertaker remembered her as "The lady that baked all those cakes all the time." and was so moved thinking back on it that she asked for directions to, and visited her grave site that same day. The other lady, in a nursing home, remembered her as an in home nurse and that "She was always taking care of everyone." According to Mrs. Craig's research and my Uncle Jim's recollections, Gilbert, my Grandfather, may have lived with her and her family when they were both kids and after he was orphaned. I guess I've got my work cut out for me now, don't I? Information and pictures are on their way to Mrs. Craig as I write this to you. We did not find any info on the Woods half of the family, but got some leads (Columbiana County, Ohio is the next stop) and Mrs. Craig knows someone that may have some knowledge of the subject. We can only hope.
        While making plans, and while we were there, I made some notes and copies of some things. If you want I can send you a list of lodgings, restaurants, things to do, ect. Also, I wrote down directions and summations of the few cemeteries we visited, and I transcribed a few cemetery indexes, parts of census records, marriage license indexes and so forth at the library that I would love to send along if you want them. If you would prefer, I plan on creating a web page of my own, including this information, very soon, and I could just give you the link if that would be better ( it'll probably take a month or so). Let me know. My only regret is we didn't get to visit Waveland and give you a call, but the girls at the Rockville library know who you are and assured us that you are a true Indianan. And that, speaking from experience, is a good thing to be.

        In the meantime, thanks again for the help and the fabulous work
you've done for all of  us searching for our family histories,


    Once I decided  to build a web page I thought I'd better start with Parke County and my trip while it was still fresh in my mind. So here goes. Take a little trip to Parke County, Indiana.

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Michael E. Woods
October 10, 1998
Last updated February 18, 1999
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