Dr. Thomas James Woods
August 18, 1850 – February 19, 1936
Thomas James Woods was born August 18, 1850, in Obion County, Tennessee (Orange county, North Carolina, per second source). Thomas was the son of William M. and Elizabeth E Woods. The family was from Irish decent. Thomas was the second of nine children.
At Thomas’ early age of five the family moved to Izard County, Arkansas, near the town of LaCross . There he received a private education taught by relatives and then attended LaCross Academy. He left Arkansas and attended Kentucky School of Medicine at Louisville. In 1876 at age twenty-six he received an M. D. with Honors.
In December of the same year he married Mary Frances Kennard (in 1926 they celebrated their 50th anniversary. Mrs Woods died in 1931. The couple had eight children, two girls and six boys. The family lived first in LaCross, then Evansville finally moving to Evening Star in 1905, where he practiced for 30 more years.
Dr. Woods traveled many miles to see patients by horseback. He became renowned as a surgeon, the best in that part of Arkansas. He did one of the early appendectomies in Arkansas in 1891. The patient survived to live a healthy life thereafter. His longest trip was 80 miles away from home to Cave City. where he was called to perform a laparotomy to remove an ovarian tumor weighing 75 pounds. The patient recovered and continued to raise six children . He traveled in cold wet weather when the temperature was as cold as 22 degrees below zero. He was often paid far less then was his usual charge. One woman paid for her eye surgery a dollar a week. When she had paid $13, Dr. Woods refused to accept more, saying he could do better without the balance than she could. Most of his earnings were credit and usually never paid in full, but he never turned a patient away because the patient had no money. Energetic and vivacious he stood erect even as he was older. He was known as a Christian gentleman all his life. He influenced the medical profession to be a respected caring professional service.
Dr. Woods was a Selected Service examiner during WWI. He was assistant U. S. Health Officer in 1917-1918.
He was a Mason, achieving the Grand High Priest of Arkansas Royal Arch Mason in 1917.
On his 78th birthday the Sharp County Record published a lengthy article emphasizing and praising his many medical accomplishments and his kind and loving personality.
Dr. Woods died in Evening Star at the age of 85 on February 18, 1936 having served Sharp County 60 years with true devotion to his patients and his profession. He is buried at Roselawn Memorial Park in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Betty L. Battenfield August 2019