James Woods was born in Ireland and emigrated with his parents to the US, when he was 18,  in 1846. James settled in Allegheny City (Pittsburgh), PA and lived there until he was 34 (1863). Later in 1863, James married Mary Dawson. James and Mary spent the last 42 years of his life on the Hughes Farm in the dairy tract of Sewickley, PA (near Duff City).

According to his eldest son’s death certificate, James came from Belfast, Ireland. I have not been able to track James’ parents and have found no definitive documentation on him prior to 1863. I have included artifacts in James’ timeline below:

James was a member of, and is interred at, Sewickley Blackburn Methodist Episcopal Church (unfortunately, church records have been destroyed by fire). Likewise, any record of the 1863 marriage, which could also list parents. But, given his membership at a Methodist church, I believe he was likely protestant.

I do not know his port of entry to the US in 1846. And, I’ve been unable to obtain a death certificate as they were not maintained in the area until the year after his death.

A couple of items of notes/oddities from my research:

  • William Woods (a possible relative??)
    • There is a William Woods (1822 Ireland – 1903 Allegheny, PA) that is in the same area (Sewickley) as my James.
    • William appeared to have emigrated to the US the year after James.
    • William married an Elizabeth Caughey. And, as you know, my James married Mary Dawson.
    • Strangely, in 1860, William shows up as James in the Census (and, my James is not in the 1860 census anywhere).
    • Both William and James have their first born son named as Jno C.
    • James and William both show up in the 1870, 1880, 1900 censuses, squashing any theory that they might be the same person.
  • James in Pittsburgh in 1850 census? There is a James Woods (b 1828 in Ireland) listed in the Pittsburgh (line 15). James (22) is listed as living with Andrew Woods (60), Margt Woods (56), John Woods (25), Thomas (20), and Andrew (18). I’ve toyed with the possibility that this could be my James Woods since he would have arrived in 1846. However, there are things that lead me to think this is not my James, including:
    • an Andrew Woods also appears in the 1840 census with unnamed kids, which would pre-date James’ emigration.
    • Nothing in James files indicates he has any siblings
    • I keep this open as a possibility, but still uncertain.
  • In the 1870 Census a Sarah Woods (age 16) shows up, living with James Woods. This is not a daughter. I am trying to find the source of this Sarah, but I cannot find her in any other census in the area in 1860 or 1880 and beyond. Could she be a niece? Other options??

Feedback from other researchers that I’ve encountered along the way:

Jim G of RootsWeb.ie writes:

  • keep at street directories more available at PRONI
    I looked a little earlier than 1828 to find the progress of Wood/Woods
  • 1660’s hearth money rolls see just this of several databases on http://www.billmacafee.com
    the column headings are:- Record No. No. in Barony List County Barony Parish Townland (Modern Spelling) Townland as spelt in Hearth Money Rolls Forename as spelt in Hearth Money Rolls Surname as spelt in Hearth Money Rolls Surname [Standardised]

    • 15252-1643-Antrim-Belfast Lower-Carrickfergus-North East Division-North Quarter of Carrickfergus-John-Woods-Woods
    • 15458-1849-Antrim-Belfast Lower-Carrickfergus-West Division-The Scotch Quarter-Edward-Woods-Woods
    • 15687-2079-Antrim-Belfast Lower-Carrickfergus-Carrickfergus Town-Carrickfergus Towne-Peter-Woods-Woods
    • 13734-125-Antrim-Belfast Upper-Shankill-Town of Belfast-Parish of Belfast-John-Woad-Woad
    • 15076-1467-Antrim-Belfast Upper-Lambeg-Lambeg Parish-Lambeg Liberties-Wm-Wooan-Wooan
    • 14425-816-Antrim-Belfast Upper-Shankill-Malone Upper-Upper Liberties of Mallone-John-Wood-Woods
    • 14141-532-Antrim-Belfast Upper-Shankill-Falls Area-Belfast Liberties-Michaell-Woods-Woods
    • 14186-577-Antrim-Belfast Upper-Shankill-Falls Area-Belfast Liberties-Michaell Jun.-Woods-Woods
    • 14187-578-Antrim-Belfast Upper-Shankill-Falls Area-Belfast Liberties-Michaell Sen.-Woods-Woods
    • 14243-634-Antrim-Belfast Upper-Drumbeg-Drumbeg Parish-Dunmurry Liberty-John-Woods-Woods
    • 14249-640-Antrim-Belfast Upper-Drumbeg-Drumbeg Parish-Dunmurry Liberty-Allex-Woods-Woods
    • 14273-664-Antrim-Belfast Upper-Derryaghy-Derryaghy Parish-Killetey-David-Woods-Woods
    • 15142-1533-Antrim-Belfast Upper-Lambeg-Lambeg Parish-Lambeg Liberties-Pat-Woods-Woods

I would go though his website fully then switch to 1796 flax growers of Ireland, narrowed to just Co Antrim none found then switch to tithe-applotments books, an index http://www.irishgenealogyhub.com/antrim/tithe-applotments/sh…

  • Woods, Adam Townland : Ballydownfine Year: 1826 [Andersonstown in the Townland of BALLYDOWNFINE a surburb sw of Belfast]
  • Woods, Arthur Townland : Ballymurphy Year: 1826 part of Belfast
  • Woods, John Townland : Dunmurry Year: 1826
  • slightly further out of Belfast see Drumbeg Co down as well which shows:
  • Woods, Adam Townland: Ballyfinaghy Year: 1830
  • Woods, Adam Townland: Old Forge Year: 1830

1860’s Griffiths valuation is almost a census substitute no really poor included and just name of homesteader. see http://www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation
back to http://www.ancestryireland.com/ James Woods 1827 father John Antrim so close enough to clear from probabilities.

Reddit user u/Ancailleach came across this record:

  • 1827 baptismal record for James woods 30 sept 1827, father John, mother Mary Ritchie. No sponsors recorded.

Rootsweb.ie user JimG also offered:

Comparing two street directories was possible, with the purpose of finding who was missing by the time of the next one which is after emigration ie I am seeking the father as he more likely lived with his parents aged 18 in those days to spot who went missing keep your eye on John in 1843.


  • Wood, Joseph, Wholesale Woollen Warehouse, 1b Bridge Street Place.
  • Wood, George P., at John Cuppage & Co.’s., Donegall Street Place, residence, 23 York Street.
  • Woods, James, Copper Smith, 30 Townsend Street.
  • Woods, David, Agent, 12 North Queen Street.
  • Woods, Samuel, Publican, 24 Lancaster Street.
  • Woods, Mrs., 19 King Street.
  • Woods, John, Dealer, 34 Union Street.
  • Woods, James, Baker, 32 Talbot Street.
  • Woods, William, Grocer, 8 Lagan Street.
  • Woods, William, Dealer in Furniture, 21 Smithfield.
  • Woods, John, Ship Carpenter, 92 Patrick Street.nt, Braemar Terrace, Lisburn


  • Wood, George P., and Co., linen yarn, flax and commission merchants, 1 Talbot Street, Holywood
  • Wood, Nathaniel, draper, 13 Harmony Place
  • Woods, Arthur, baker, 23 Charles Street
  • Woods, Arthur, shoe maker, 1 Pilot Street
  • Woods, Charles, reeling master, 15 Cullingtree Street
  • Woods, David, agent for Hill Hamilton, 12 North Queen Street
  • Woods, Eleanor, publican, 24 Lancaster Street
  • Woods, George, foreman in grain store, 16 Henrietta Street
  • Woods, Hugh, plasterer, 13 Sackville Place
  • Woods, Hamlet, brick layer, 2 Wesley Lane
  • Woods, John, fruit dealer, Wheeler’s Place, Ballymacarrett
  • Woods, James, grain stores, 2 Murphy’s Lane, 65 Verner Street
  • Woods, John, tailor and grocer, 7 Garmoyle Street
  • Woods, James, night constable, 12 Artillery Street
  • Woods, Margaret, 13 Galway Court
  • Woods, Michael, jeweller, 6 Michael Street
  • Woods, Michael, wine and spirit dealer, 11 Victoria Street
  • Woods, Patrick, grocer and publican, 12 Barrack Street
  • Woods, Robert, tailor, 18 Durham Street
  • Woods, William, saddler, 2 Frederick Place
  • Woods, William, grocer, 1 Hamilton StreetRoad

Then I went seeking the nearest James born to 1818 that I could find I started with
http://www.ancestryireland.com which reguires credits etc the nearest James is
JAMES-WOODS-1815-Father JOHN-Antrim however if you look under woods without first names in thar time period there are sveral births attributed to John Woods so there may be several john woods.

Reddit user u/therealwendy came across a baptism for a James Woods in 1827 in Ballynure, Co. Antrim, son of John Woods and Mary Ritchie. In further examination, she also found an 1825 baptism for a William born to a John Woods and Mary Richie, but in Carrickfergus. She also located an 1823 baptism for a John born to John Woods and Mary Richie in Carrickfergus.

This may be one of the more interesting developments. As we speak, I am actively checking these findings against emigration records for any correlating families.

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