August 14th, is an important day of sorts for me, my house, and the history of not only Eaton.... but also of Madison county and today's agriculture. If you have a four wheel drive car, truck or tractor...it might be impotant to you also.
Eaton is the home of Allen Wood the maker of the first four-wheel drive transmission that used metal gears like today's models. It was the his brain child and wish to make this unit available to pull traction engines into the field with all of its equipment.....in other words the precursor of today's tractor. Yes it meant man rode on it into the field for the first time. To accomplish this his relative Loyal Clark Tabor invented and patented its design with all its gears...
Allen Nelson Wood was born in the community of Middleport, one of the stops on the Chenango Canal just below Eaton. His mother and father named him after the great Lord Nelson. Captain Allen Wood Sr., Allen’s father, was a Revolutionary War veteran and a well-known Freemason. His death recorded on March 16, 1823, resulted in the largest Masonic funeral in Madison County history up until that time and for some years to come, because of the decline in Masonry after the William Morgan incident.
Allen Wood Sr. married Lucinda Newcomb of Lebanon, they had five children - Alonzo born in 1808, (he married Lydia Hodges), Olivia, born in 1810, (she married Oliver Whitaker), Tirza (married David Smith of NYC), Polly Hale (married Dr. Orson Gregory of NYC) and Allen Nelson Wood, born on August 14, 1818.
Mr. Wood was a respected member of the area, the Congregational Church, and the business community. Wood was a director, and one of the largest stockholders of the First National Bank of Morrisville as well as director and a major stockholder of the Hamilton National Bank. In 1880. Allen Wood was the also the main stockholder of the Morrisville National Bank, owning personally sixty-five shares. He traveled as the business agent of the company that had offices in Chicago, Augusta GA. and of course, Eaton, NY.
Through his records of stock found in Cornell's Olin Library it was evident that Mr. Wood invested in many banks across America. Mr. Wood was also instrumental in bringing the Midland Railroad to the area. To bring the railroad in, Eaton agreed to bond for $150,000.
The railroad, of course, allowed an easier and wider distribution of the steam engines and parts, as well as affording the company an easier way to bringing the needed iron ore from the Clinton area to Eaton for use in the foundry, and the coal from Pennsylvania. A foundry, we might add, which made all the parts for the engines - even to casting all of the needed gears. Wood and company also employed many through the deepest depressions of the post Civil War period and set up and sold rights to the Oneida Royal Company.
Mr. Wood's great granddaughters visited the Wood House on Brooklyn Street in 1996, and took pleasure in telling of how... their great grandfather, Mr. Wood, who was considered the larger than life pillar of the community... Mr. Wood was on the Board of Directors or Trustee for the banks, the Eaton Congregational Church where he was also a Deacon and Sunday School Superintendent, he was Trustee of the Eaton Village Cemetery Association, and an abolitionist whose house was and Underground Railroad stop and of course – the founding member and co-owner of the famous Wood, Taber & Morse Steam Engine Works... stood only 5 foot three inches tall.
Happy Birthday Mr. Wood..your family pictures still grace your house on Brooklyn Street and still see's many visitors.
For more information on Mr. Wood, Wood, Tabor and Morse, Patents for the machines visit the Old Town of Eaton Museum on River Road in Eaton. For information visit their facebook page >>> Old Town of Eaton Museum.
*An interesting side note for genealogists is Lucinda's sister Jerusha, who married their father's brother John Newcomb, lived and is buried in Eaton. One of Lucinda's brothers Daniel married Anna Clark of Eaton.
Eaton Church is still standing with its historic windows one of which has the Wood family name on it..near the pew where he is mentioned in a story in a book by Melville Landon! The Landons have a window also!