Judge William Hunter Woods. Seldom are thorough qualifications for public service given more distinctive recognition than in the appointment by President Wilson of William Hunter Woods to the office of United States Probate Attorney for the district of which Purcell is the official headquarters.
Judge Woods is a lawyer of sound learning and long experience and resigned from the office of county judge of McClain County to accept his present post. While living in his native state of Texas he was a successful worker in the educational field. He was admitted to the Oklahoma bar fifteen years ago.
Born in Milam County, Texas, February 23, 1876, he was descended from an old American family and one that has furnished many useful citizens and hard working members of the industrial, professional and business callings. The Woods family is a commingling of Scotch, Irish and English stock and they became settled in Virginia and North Carolina in colonial days. Judge Woods’ great-great-grandfather, whose name was either Samuel or John Woods, was a Revolutionary soldier. His great-grandfather John Woods was probably born in North Carolina, was a planter, and died in West Virginia. Judge Woods’ grandfather Samuel Woods was born in Tennessee and died in the western part of that state where he was a planter and slave owner.
Dr. A. D. Woods, father of Judge Woods, was born in Tennessee in 1846, was reared in that state and married there Miss Mary A. Woods, who was a distant relative, and was born in West Tennessee in 1844 and died at Rogers, Texas, in September, 1914. From Tennessee Doctor Woods moved to Texas and lived in Milam and Bell Counties until his death near Rogers in the latter county in 1901. He was a graduate of the medical department of Vanderbilt University in Nashville and a man of rare ability and conscientious performance who devoted himself for many years to a large practice in the country districts of North Central Texas. For three years during the war between the states he was a member of the famous Forrest’s Cavalry of the Confederate army and in one battle he had ten bullet wounds through his sleeve while one ball passed through his wrist. He gave some public service as a member of the school board, was a democrat, a member of the Presbyterian Church and of the Masonic Fraternity. Doctor and Mrs. Woods became the parents of five children: Carey H., who died in infancy; Frank L., who is a farmer and cotton ginner near Rogers, Texas; William Hunter, Samuel H., at Hereford, Texas; and Eva, who died in infancy.
William Hunter Woods spent his boyhood chiefly in Milam County, Texas, where he attended public schools, and in 1894 graduated from high school at Davilla, Texas. Then four years of successful work as a teacher in Milam and Bell Counties, and largely with the earnings from this work he paid his tuition for a higher education. He attended the medical department of the University of Texas in 1898-99, but on account of ill health abandoned the idea of a professional career in that line, and in November, 1899, went to a ranch near Purcell, Oklahoma, where he spent a year recuperating.
Thus for more than fifteen years Judge Woods has been a resident of McClain County. One item of his earlier service which should be remembered was four years as superintendent of the city schools of Purcell. In the meantime he had begun the industrious reading of law in the offices of Johnson and Carter at Purcell. He was admitted to the bar in 1901 but did not begin practice until 1905. From 1911 to December, 1913, he served as county judge of McClain County, resigning in the middle of his second term to accept appointment from President Wilson as a United States Probate Attorney.
Perhaps there is no position under the auspices of the Federal Government that requires a more tactful and delicate administration than that of Indian Probate Attorney. He is the legal representative for all “restricted Indians” in a large district, originally comprising McClain, Garvin, Stephens, Grady and Pontotoc, from which Pontotoc County has subsequently been separated. Judge Woods has been called upon to serve as the intermediary in all kinds of business transactions between the Indian wards of the government and the white people, and is called upon frequently to perform services for the Indians such as were never contemplated in the original instructions governing the duties of probate attorneys. He has proved considerate, firm and just and has won the confidence of the Indians and is not only their official but real friend and adviser.
While living at Purcell, Judge Woods has served as city attorney and is president of the school board. He is n democrat, a member of the Presbyterian Church, is affiliated with Purcell Lodge No. 27, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, with Purcell Chapter, Royal Arch Masons, with Purcell Camp of the Modern Woodmen of America, and belongs to the County and State Bar Associations.
At Lexington, Oklahoma, in 1905 Judge Woods married Eva F. Moseley. Her father, S. P. Moseley, is a merchant in Fort Worth, Texas. To their marriage have been born four children: Evaline, William H. Jr., Frank and Katherine, the three oldest being now students in the Purcell public schools.