Saturday, March 8, 2008

Georgia Woods

Today we feature a photograph of my Great, Great Grandmother, Georgia Lavinia Woods. She shared that name with her Mother, so she was known simply as "Little Sweet". She was born on August 15, 1855 in San Marcus, Texas. Her father was the respected physician Dr. Peter C. Woods. With the start of the Civil War in 1861, her father laid down his medical instruments, picked up his sword, and mustered up a Confederate Cavalry Regiment, which became known as the 32nd Texas Cavalry. Dr. Woods was elected commander of the unit, and he became Colonel-Doctor Peter C. Woods. In 1862 Little Sweet watched her father, and his cavalry unit ride off to war. The plantation was left in the care of her mother, Georgia Virginia Lawshe Woods, and the family slaves (note- I am embarrassed that my family owned slaves. I am proud of many aspects of my family history, but am sorry that this dark spot stains that history). They effectively managed the plantation in the absence of Peter. As the Civil War came to a close, union troops moved into Texas, acting as sort of an army of occupation. At this time, southerners really did not have any property or other rights, and were pretty much subject to what amounted to martial law. The practical implication was that you pretty much had to do whatever someone in uniform told you to do, right or wrong. If you did anything to resist, the reprisals would be much worse than the original offense. As union forces reached San Marcus, a group of soldiers approached the family plantation. As the senior Georgia went out to see what they wanted, Little Sweet was perched up on the balcony of the home with a rifle, and she took a shot at the group of soldiers (She would have been about 10 years old). She missed, but did startle them, and they all scurried for cover. As Little Sweet was reloading to fire again, one of the slaves was in the home, and saw what was happening. He ran out onto the balcony, took the gun away from her, and whisked her out behind the house, and into the woods. He likely saved her life because there is no doubt that the soldiers would have soon returned fire on her. Not much was said at the time about the incident. The soldiers did tell Georgia, however, that they were commandeering her home and property. She had one day to vacate the premises. The family was given the option that they could remove themselves from the property completely, or they could live out back in the slave quarters with the (former) slaves. They moved back into the slave quarters.


The soldiers were very abusive to the family, and the abusive behaviour became worse and worse. Of particular concern was that Little Sweet had a very beautiful older sister named Cherokee. One of the Union Officers had a very strong interest in Cherokee. His inappropriate advances became more and more aggressive, and he began to make explicit threats of violence to the family if Cherokee did not become more receptive to his inappropriate advances. It was very clear what the tragic endpoint of these unwanted and most unfortunate advances would soon be. The family had no choice but to take action to defend themselves. They had Cherokee approach the officer and express interest, and make arrangements for him to meet her that night in the barn. When the officer showed up, Cherokee was waiting for him inside, but the remainder of the family was hidden in the barn. When he entered the barn, they jumped him, overwhelmed him, and killed him. His body was disposed of some miles away. Being an officer, his disappearance was noticed by the authorities, and they did suspect foul play. The only good thing was that he had been abusive to many, many people. So, while they suspected foul play, there were scores of people who could have had an axe to grind with him.


Peter C. Woods did eventually return from the war. He had been seriously injured, and he had lost the use of his entire left arm. When he returned from the war, he freed all his slaves. The slaves would have really already been freed by the government, but Peter thought it was important for them to see that they were not just free in the eyes of the state, but that they were also free in the eyes of their former owner. Upon freeing them, he split the plantation into equal parts, giving each of the former slaves an equal part of the land. The only stipulation was that when he deeded them the land, he made a provision in the deed where they, or their descendents could not sell the land for 100 years. He did this to ensure that no one would be able to ever cheat them out of the land. By making this provision, he ensured that they would always own property.


Little Sweet had a long and happy life. She married, and had a very large family. She lived through, and had loved ones fight in the Civil War, The Spanish American War, World War I, and World War II. In her life she observed the impact of both the mini-ball and the Atomic Bomb. She died on October 11, 1946 in Christoval, Texas at the age of 91.


22 comments:

  1. This tribute would make a wonderful contribution to the Carnival of Genealogy. Our theme this time around is "a tribute to women" in honor of National Women's History Month". Please consider submitting your article. I know that it would be appreciated by many for it's a wonderful story of a courageous woman in a difficult time.

    If you'd like to read the call for submissions for this next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy you can find it at the end of the previous edition.
    http://creativegene.blogspot.com/2008/03/carnival-of-genealogy-43rd-edition.html

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  2. I really enjoyed reading about Little Sweet. You have an interesting family history. I wish I could (or had the time to) research mine.

    Actually, I did do a little research on my family a few years back, and found a couple of interesting tidbits, but I really need to take the time to research more thourally.

    Thanks for sharing Little Sweet's story!

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  3. Wow. I hope this doesn't sound cheap, but that would make a great movie. Did she leave any writings behind?

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  4. Thanks to all for the kind words. The story of Little Sweet came to me this way . . . I have an elderly great aunt, who is well into her 80's. She was probably born in about 1925. When she was a little girl, Little Sweet lived with them. My great aunt had all brothers, so she and little sweet shared a room. My great aunt literally grew up living in the same room with Little Sweet, and she heard this and many other amazing stories of her life. Also, my Mother is old enough to remember Little Sweet as well. Last week I had my great aunt (a delightful woman) over for dinner, and she stayed till the wee hours of the morning telling me many stories like this one of the family.

    As far as a movie . . . they did write a book on the lineage of women in my family going all the way back to the revolutionary war. The book was called "True Women", and they did make a CBS mini-series on it. For anyone interested in genuinely inspirational stories of profoundly strong women, this is a great book. (The mini-series was no good, though). While the book True Women included stories of Little Sweet, her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, I was careful in telling the posted story not to be influenced by the stories in the book . . . I just told the stories as they were told to me by my aunt, mother, and grandfather.

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  5. I'm a consistent reader ... This inclusion of family is just fantastic ... Puts me in mind of my family. I'm a musician, and I have done a whole record on this subject ... the past, heritage, etc ...
    Check it out if you'd like. www.thebrianshow.com

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  6. Fascinating story, thanks a lot for posting it.

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  7. Hello,

    I just decided to begin featuring a new blog a week on my site. I love yours so much I decided to start with you! I hope that's okay. It's just that the photos you post are so beautiful that I wanted to share them with as many people as possible. Thank you for making so many beautiful photos possible in my day :)

    Your blog is being featured at http://trubluecrafts.blogspot.com

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  8. These amazing stories give me chills, tears, smiles--everything! As well as a growing desire to learn more. Who knew all this could have happened in America! Wish you had been our history teacher in school.

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  9. Thank you for this post.

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  10. Wonderful story, however; you may want to correctly spell San Marcos. San Marcus doesn't exist but San Marcos Texas sure does and this town is in the proximity to the story of TRUE WOMEN.

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  11. thanx for this photo

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  12. I'm very surprised, because i saw this afternoon on tv a film about the mother of Little Sweet, Georgia Virginia Woods. She had a very beautiful story, and her family can be proud of it!
    (sorry for my very bad English, i'm French and the learning of english isn't very good in France :D ).

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  13. Oh wow! I can't believe I found this. I am in the middle of watching the movie "True Women" -- I just love the movie and had to see it again. If you haven't seen it you should, part of it is about your great-great-great grandmother Georgia Virginia Lawshe Woods! She is played by Angelina Jolie!! And I was excited about the part that they lived in San Marcos because that's where I go to school.

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  14. I have just read that book and have been totally fascinated by it and of all the women in there. I live in Boerne and my husban and I plan to go and see some of the old places that are still there. Fist time I have actually been able to vision the lives from that era.

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  15. My great-great-great grandmother is Georgia...her character was played in the movie by Angelina Jolie. Georgia's great-granddaughter was Lillian Elizabeth King, who was my grandmother's mother.

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  17. I really love Little Sweet's story. After watching "True Women", I remember that there was a cousin of Georgia Virginia Lawshe Woods who was mixed or of black descent. Does anyone know whether Georgia Virginia Lawshe Woods had a mixed or "black" cousin? Georgia's cousin was I think the daughter of her half Cherokee/Caucasian mother's brother and a "black" slave.

    Any help is appreciated.

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  18. Her cousin was Martha Benny Hawkins Lawshe. She married Ed Tom Lawshe who was Georgia's slave/half brother.

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  19. Watching true woman now and decided to look up Lawshe plantation. Am going to read books now. Who is Janice Woods Windle in relation to you and who wrote the books? Such amazing stories.. Awesome! Stephanie Mason

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  20. I bought the medal that is in some of the pictures of Colonel Woods several years ago at a auction south of San Antonio. It is now in the museum at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.

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    1. I am interested in the photo of Col. Woods in his Civil War uniform. Anyone know where that photo is?
      Any close up photos of the medal mentioned above?
      Thanks

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  21. I am with the Hays County Historical Commission. We are starting work on a documentary about Colonel Peter C. Woods. The family story is really interesting and fun and will make a great documentary. Is there any help you might can give? I am really hoping for photos.

    Thank you for any help you can give!!!
    l_coker@hotmail.com

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