J.N.O.P. Wood

Doctor John N.O.P. Wood (1802-1903) was born in Dublin, Ireland and emigrated with his family to Kentucky in 1810. He graduated from Augusta College in 1819 and Transylvania Medical College in 1824. He served as a surgeon in the Mexican War and moved to Illinois in 1845 and to Lawrence in October 1854. [Kiene, Brown's Exit, 446] The first meeting of the Democratic Party in Kansas was held at his Lawrence office on July 27, 1855. [Cutler, History, Part 18] Wood was a National Democrat [Kansas Historical Collection 8:369] and part of the aborted movement to reconcile Northern and Southern Democrats in Kansas. He found Charles Robinson and the New England Emigrant Aid Company to be the only elements advocating Free-State politics before the "Bogus Election" caused a wider population to be radicalized.[Johnson, Emigrant Aid, 26] Wood was not among that part of the population.

Sharps Rifle

This rifle is said to have been made for John Brown but bears no maker's mark or number. Brown carried a Sharps rifle on his Kansas campaign in 1856.
[Smithsonian National Museum of American History]

In fact, Wood was appointed as the first Probate Judge (presiding county commissioner) of Douglas County by the "Bogus" Legislature and moved to Lecompton in March 1856. Referring to the Sharps rifle used by the free- state men, Wood testified before the Howard Congressional Investigating Committee that Lawrence men had resolved to resist the laws passed by the Legislature:

"...They said they had a new code of laws called Sharpe's Revised Statutes, and they were going, to use them in preference to any others. It was a common remark that they would use Sharpe's Revised Statutes in preference to any others. I think the first box of rifles came there marked Revised Statutes. There were free-State men in Lawrence who opposed this course, and oppose it yet. I myself co-operated with the free-State party until they took these revolutionary steps, and then I left them."[Howard Report, 658]

As Probate Judge in the pro-slavery government, Wood arraigned free-state defendants charged in Territorial courts. He set a particularly high bail of $5,000 for David Evans, a free-state Missourian [Robinson, Interior and Exterior, Ch. 20,21] and he called for the arrest of Samuel Walker, commander of a free-state company of men. [Gihon, Geary in Kansas, Ch. 32] In December 1858, acting as Deputy United States Marshal, Wood attempted to capture John Brown who was bringing ten Missouri slaves into Kansas. Wood's posse of 45 men retreated from Brown's force of 21 men, spurring their horses, escaping without firing a shot. A newspaper man called the skirmish "The Battle of the Spurs." [Blackmar, History, 731]

Wood continued to live in Lecompton before moving to Perry and then to Coffeyville. He practiced medicine for 75 years. [Kiene, Brown's Exit, 446]

Charles Clark