John R. Woodside
"A Man of His Time"
by Ann Woodside

John R. was born at Rowlett’s Landing in Franklin County Kentucky (now Owen County) in 1814. His mother was a Rowlett closely related to the Smoots, (How, he forgot to say). The Woodsides, Rowletts and Smoots all had reached Kentucky at the same time. One family of Rowletts still lives at Rowlett’s Landing.

Over a hundred and twenty years later, Hal Woodside (the author’s father) was driving through Kentucky when he passed a sign that saying "Rowletts Landing." He stopped. As he walked out on the pier, he saw no one but a very old, old woman. She started pounding the boards with her cane and shouting, "One of the boys is home!"

Men came from all directions and after much handshaking and backslapping, Hal tried to tell them his name; they thought that was hilarious. They knew his name; they just didn’t know which Woodside or Rowlett he was. And he never convinced them that he had not seen Rowlett’s Landing before in his life.

The originals settlers at Rowlett’s Landing were reputed to be wild and rowdy bunch. But when William Woodside, John R’s father moved to Tennessee, the Smoots moved with him. William Smoot and John R. Woodside decided to start west together, following the sun. (After crossing the Mississippi, Smoot continued on to Independence, Missouri, where the Mormons were gathering, He joined them, later becoming a bishop in the Mormon Church. He was the father of Senator Smoot of Utah.)




















On the morning of the 11th of May, 1837, a heavy thunderstorm was raging on the Mississippi. John R. Woodside was coming up the river on the steamer Oceana. His destination was Missouri. Because of the storm he was put ashore ten miles above the mouth of the Ohio River, on the Illinois shore, at the wood yard of one Wilson Able.

He hired a woodchopper to ferry him across the river, and pledged him his trunk for the fee. Remembering it later, he said, "I was alone, without friends, without a dime, without education enough to write a promissory note."

While living near Commerce in Scott County, he cut wood for a living and attended sessions of subscription school taught by Mr. Emmar Wear.

In September of 1938 John R began teaching. And on the first day of February in 1940 he entered public life as assessor of Scott County.

During his young manhood he was surveyor for the government. The year the Oregon County seat was moved to Alton, 1845, he surveyed the original town of West Plains, and named it. The name was taken from early designation of the valley in which West Plains is situated, as "The Plains west of Thomasville."

John R. read law and passed the Missouri Bar. He was a member of the state convention that met in Jefferson City in March, 1848, and was disgusted at the system of selecting candidates by convention. However, he voted the Democratic Party Ticket


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