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WOODS, NORMAN B. (1805–1843). Norman B. Woods, pioneer and soldier, was born on October 13, 1805, in Troy, Missouri, the third of six children of Minerva (Cottle) and Zadock Woods. His family was among the first settlers of the Missouri area known as St. Charles. Woods was raised in Troy and attended St. Charles Academy from 1823 until 1826, when he joined his family in what is now Fayette County, Texas, where they had moved two years earlier. Woods was granted land from Spanish authorities near the site of present Flatonia. On August 4, 1831, he married Jane Boyd Wells in Bastrop; they had at least five children, three of whom lived to adulthood. On August 22–24, 1829, Woods took part with Capt. Abner Kuykendall's company in a skirmish with the Waco Indians above La Grange. By 1841 he was in Austin with Fayette County representative James S. Lester, observing and reporting the fourth and fifth sessions of the Congress of the Republic of Texas. In September 1842 Woods volunteered along with his father and his brother, Henry G. Woods, in Capt. Nicholas M. Dawson's forced march from La Grange to San Antonio to join Mathew Caldwell's forces against the Mexican army of Adrián Woll. He was wounded and captured at the Dawson Massacre on September 18, 1842. Because of their wounds, Woods and four other men, including his nephew, Milvern Harrell, were taken first to the hospital at Presidio del Rio Grande. After a failed escape attempt, the remaining prisoners, including Woods and Harrell, were moved to Perote Prison. Parts of fourteen of Woods's letters from Perote are still extant and describe the conditions there. Woods died on December 16, 1843, and was buried in the prison moat. His name appears on a 1936 historical marker outside La Grange at Monument Hill-Kreische Brewery State Historic Site.


James B. Schwabe, comp., Ancestors and Descendants of Sylvanus and Abigail (Sherman) Cottle (East Alton, Illinois, 1985). L. U. Spellmann, ed., "Letters of the `Dawson Men' From Perote Prison, Mexico, 1842–1843," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 38 (April 1935). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Houston Wade, comp., The Dawson Men of Fayette County (Houston, 1932). Leonie Rummel Weyand and Houston Wade, An Early History of Fayette County (La Grange, Texas: La Grange Journal, 1936). E. W. Winkler, ed., "The Bexar and Dawson Prisoners," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 13 (April 1910). Norman B. Woods Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Paul N. Spellman

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Paul N. Spellman, "WOODS, NORMAN B.," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed December 01, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.