James Sterrett Woods (1793-1862)

James Sterrett Woods was born on April 18, 1793 in Dickinson Township near Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel and Francis Sterrett Woods. He was prepared for college at the Hopewell Academy of John Hooper and entered the local Dickinson College with the class of 1814. Upon graduation with his class, he enrolled at the Princeton Theological Seminary and, in 1817 and 1818, he was licensed to preach, first in New Brunswick, New Jersey and then with the Huntingdon Presbytery in central Pennsylvania.

Woods was offered a half-time position in McVeytown, was ordained as a Presbyterian pastor in April, 1820, and spent much of his time evangelizing among the small town in the hills of the area, preaching in school houses and barns. In April 1824, he also took on the pastorate at Lewistown, Pennsylvania. In 1837, he concentrated his efforts with the latter church, taking on the full term position at $600 per year. He remained in that post for the remainder of his life. Woods had taught at a classical school in McVeytown and was also instrumental in the building and operation of the Lewistown Academy. He was honored with an doctorate of divinity from Princeton in 1850.

While still a student in New Jersey, Woods married Marianne Witherspoon, the youngest daughter of John Witherspoon, president of Princeton and signer of the Declaration of Independence. The couple had nine children, including three daughters and six sons, one of whom was killed in the storming of Monterey during the Mexican War and another who became a well-known local judge. His wife died in 1846. After a long and admired career at Lewistown, James Sterrett Woods died there suddenly on June 29, 1862. He was sixty-nine years old.

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Dickinson College Archives
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