Walter A. Wood
Town of Hoosick

Information on this page is from History of Rensselaer Co., New York, by Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, published in 1880.

WALTER A. WOOD, the founder of these works [Walter A. Wood Mowing and Reaping Machine Manufactory], was born in Mason, N. H., Oct. 23, 1815, and came to Hoosick Falls in 1836. He was a blacksmith by trade and worked at that business for Seth PARSONS, who was engaged in manufacturing. He married a daughter of his employer, a sister of T. Russell Parsons and David B. Parsons, who have been in late years associated with Mr. Wood's manufacturing operations. A few years later, Mr. Wood became interested in the subject of mowing and reaping machines, which were then beginning to attract the attention of the country. He made some improvements upon the Manny mower and reaper, which he was manufacturing to a limited extent. He gave to the subject much close thought, and while making machines in accordance with another man's patent, he was all the time reducing his own ideas into practical shape. In 1853 he obtained a patent for the mower that has ever since born his name. In 1854 he commenced in a small way the manufacture of his machines, continuing to increase his works as the demand increased. In 1866 a company was formed, or which Mr. Wood was made president, J. Russell Parsons vice-president, Willard Gay treasurer, and A. C. Gear secretary. The company has ever been on the alert to introduce new improvements, and the steady and increasing demand for their machines is solid proof of their success. From 1853 to 1879 the number of machines manufactured aggregated to 302,092. This record is unequaled in the history of mowing-machines.

Mr. Wood has been rewarded not only by the great financial success which has resulted from his inventions and his manufacturing establishments, but by prizes, medals, and honors such as have been won by few men. In 1837 he received the grand gold medal of the United States National Agricultural Society; in 1862, the International Exhibition medal, London, England; in 1867, the grand gold medal, first prize at the Paris Exposition (also the Cross of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor); in 1873, the grand diploma of honor, the highest award of the commission, and the only one given for reaping- and mowing-machines at the Vienna Exhibition, supplemented by the Knight's Cross of the Imperial Order of Francis Joseph; in 1874, the first prize, gold medal, at Bremen, Germany, International Exhibition, June 1874; in 1876, four medals and four diplomas, awarded at the Philadelphia International Exhibition, being the highest honor conferred by the Centennial Commission; in 1878, two gold medals and an object of art, awarded at the Paris International Exhibition; also the Cross of Officer of the Legion of Honor, the highest honor that could be conferred.

During the year 1878, in competitive trials, Wood's mower, reaper, and self-binding harvester, in addition to the gold medals and honors from the Paris International Exhibition, before referred to, took first prizes at Rome, Italy, and at fifty-four of the principal cities of England, Wales, Scotland, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Australia, Cape of Good Hope, Victoria, New Zealand, New South Wales, etc. From 1873 to 1877, inclusive, in 366 field-trials, these machines gained over 279 first prizes, including 88 gold medals, 64 silver medals, 8 bronze medals, 13 diplomas, 5 silver cups, and over 800 pounds in money. Such are the honors paid to one of Hoosick's manufacturers of world-wide renown.

NOTE from Lin Van Buren: Walter A. Wood married twice. His first wife was Bessie A. Parsons (c1822-1867), by whom he had one child, a son, Linn P. Woods (1850-1877). Walter A. Wood's second wife was Elizabeth ("Lizzie") Nichols, by whom he had two children, a son and a daughter. The son was Walter A. Wood, Jr. (1871-1915). The daughter was Julia N. Wood, who was born in England and who married Hugh Blackington. Walter A. Wood's entry in the 1870 US Census shows that he owned personal property valued at $115,000 and real property valued at $168,900 - a very large sum indeed in 1870. Walter Abbott Wood died 15 January 1892 and was buried in Old Maple Cemetery in Hoosick.

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