Samuel Baker Woods

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Samuel B. Woods
Baker, Samuel B.JPG

City of Charlottesville
Electoral District At-large
Preceded by R. F. Harris
Succeeded by L. T. Hanckel

Electoral District Appointed
Term Start 1888
Term End 1889
Preceded by Seat did not existing
Succeeded by New Council

Biographical Information

Date of birth January 21, 1856
Date of death October 1, 1952 (aged 96)
Maplewood Cemetery
Children 8
Alma mater University of Virginia
Profession lawyer
peach and apple orchardist
Religion Presbyterian

Samuel B. Woods (1856-1952) was was a prominent farmer, peach and apple orchardist, attorney and businessman who played a leading role in the successful drive to incorporate the City of Charlottesville.

A former town council member, he played an active role in the successful effort to incorporate the city of Charlottesville in 1888. He thereafter served as the city's first mayor.

His father, Reverend Edgar Woods, founded Pantops Academy in Charlottesville and wrote what is still one of the best local county histories in Virginia: Albemarle County in Virginia.[1]

Political career

In 1887 the Virginia General Assembly codified the distinction between towns and cities, prompting several towns, among them Charlottesville, to press for city status. As a result, Senate Bill No.126 was introduced on January 10, 1888, to allow for annexation of certain lands in Albemarle County to bring the town's population up to the threshold (5000) for city status - dictated by the new law. On January 23, 1888 Woods was elected one of four new aldermen to represent the proposed annexed areas on the town council.

At a mass meeting on February 2, 1887, Woods introduced a crucial resolution: Resolved. that it is the sentiment of the voters of the city of Charlottesville that we should at once have a city government. Woods was thereafter appointed to a committee to conduct a special census and pressed for immediate consideration of city status by the legislature. His resolution to that effect was temporarily delayed, prompting a letter to the editor of a local paper (perhaps written by Woods) to comment that "the wishes of the people and the interest of the town are ignored." Despite the temporary setback, House Bill No. 461 granting Charlottesville a City Charter was passed on February 28, 1888 and signed into law four days later.


On November 20, 1888, Woods was elected the city's first mayor - a post he held for one term. In his farewell statement as mayor on June 29, 1892 he complained that "in justice to my successor I would suggest that before he qualifies it would be proper to raise the salary of the mayor...The mayor is now paid a smaller salary than a policeman".

he also served as ex-officio judge of the police court.


In 1890 the Woods family purchased "Arrowhead," Albemarle County. The farm has had a succession of significant owners including Mildred Merriweather, a half-sister of Patrick Henry; and Virginia Governor Thomas W. Gilmer. Woods (1856-1952) added the two wings at Arrowhead, probably to accommodate his family of eleven children.


An ardent dry, his many publications on the subject of prohibition included a letter to Sir Ronald Lindsay, the British Ambassador, on the issue of diplomats serving liquor and protesting the use of liquor in the embassy. All indications are that Sir Ronald ignored the protest.[2]


Samuel Baker Woods was born in Wheeling, West Virginia, to the Reverend Edgar Woods (who served as pastor of the Charlottesville Presbyterian Church from 1866 to 1877) and Maria Baker. The Reverend Woods established the Pantops Academy (1879-1906) a Presbyterian school for boys to prepare young men for college, where Samuel Woods taught while attending the University of Virginia (1873-1877, 1879-1880). When he received his law degree in 1880, he began a law practice in Charlottesville.

On September 1, 1881, he married Lucretia Gilmore of Marion, Smyth County, Virginia, whose father, James Houston Gilmore, taught international and constitutional law at the University of Virginia. Sam and Lucretia had eight children who survived into adulthood:

  1. Dr. Edgar Lyons Woods (attended UVA 1900-1904), Washington, D.C.
  2. Archibald Paull Woods (attended UVA 1914-1915), Petersburg
  3. William Sharpless Derrick Woods (attended UVA 1918-1924), Richmond
  4. Theodore K. Woods (attended UVA 1921-1923), Darien, Connecticut
  5. Addison Gilmore Woods (attended UVA 1908-1909); Lucretia Woods

Woods was extremely interested in the improvement and promotion of agriculture and was one of the founders of the Virginia Horticultural Society and served as its first president.

He was also one of the oldest of the members of the Charlottesville Presbyterian Church at the time of his death where he served as a trustee and a deacon. The three brothers of Samuel Woods, the Reverend Dr. Henry McKee Woods (1857- ?), Dr. Edgar Woods, and Dr. James B. Woods, were all graduates of the University of Virginia and Presbyterian missionaries to China.

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  1. Web. Registration Form, National Register of Historic Places, 1991
  2. Web. [1]

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