Thursday, November 26, 2015

Myron Winslow Wood (1823-1913): Wrote History of Alameda County

Myron Wood gravestone (photo by Michael Colbruno)
Myron Winslow Wood was born in Vermont, but settled in Wisconsin after marrying Mary Denford in 1846. She died in 1864 and he remarried Pamelia Ada Whitney a year later. He served with the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Cavalry during the United States Civil War for the Union Side from October 31, 1861-October 19, 1865, rising from the rank of Private to Major. After his military service, he moved to California

He is remembered today for writing the "History of Alameda County, California" a two volume set of paid biographies published in 1883. The biographies were invariably flattering and generally omitted some important but inconvenient genealogical or biographical data.

Wood's History of Alameda County
The biographies were mostly those of residents of Murray Township, which at that time included the towns of Altamont, Dublin, Livermore, Midway, Pleasanton and Suñol, and their surrounding countryside. A few of the subjects lived elsewhere, but owned land or had business interests in Murray Township.

Wood's book was typical of county histories published in the late 19th century. The books were commercial ventures and not scholarly works. They included biographies of only male citizens. In derisive reference to the portraits included with the biographies, the publications became known as "mug books." Wood's two-volume, 1001page set has become a valuable reference source for the early history of Alameda County, as well as an important resource for genealogists. 

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