Wood, Tobias DeCantillon (1851–1916)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Type: Biography

Published: September 1, 1995

Tobias DeCantillon (Tobe) Wood, cattleman, executive, and alderman of Victoria, was born in San Patricio County, Texas, on January 4, 1851, the son of John H. and Nancy Wood. He was brought up on the family ranch in Refugio County, where he briefly attended school. At the age of eighteen Wood began working cattle and "went up the trail" from Victoria to Dodge City, receiving every fourth calf as payment. These he sold or traded for land, and by 1892 he owned 20,000 acres, 9,500 cattle, and 500 horses. Wood became well known as a breeder of fine Sussex cattle, which he first acquired from a breeder in Tennessee in 1898, and thoroughbred horses. By 1884 his ranch was assessed at $16,620, although its true worth was much more. In addition to his ranching activities, Wood was a principal stockholder in the Texas Continental Meat Company, which was opened in 1883 and said to have been the first meat-packing plant in the region. Its promoter, an Englishman named A. F. Higgs, is reputed to have invented the railway refrigerator car, and the plant reportedly produced the first oleomargarine in the South. Wood also donated land for the right-of-way of the Rice Belt Railway, a spur line running from Friendswood to Refugio and later part of the Missouri Pacific system. As a founder of the bank, he was elected vice president of the Levi Bank and Trust Company, later the Victoria Bank and Trust Company, in 1910 and continued to serve as a director until his death. Wood was elected alderman of Victoria in 1889 and 1890 but resigned when the Victoria Light, Ice, and Power Company won a contract to provide forty electric street lights to the city at an annual cost of $12,000. Although Wood served as a director of the utility company, he believed the cost of the service too high for the city to pay. He was returned to the board by a special election, however, and the power company submitted a new proposal to provide lights at cost. Wood married Mary Mahon of Victoria and was the father of five children. He was a Catholic and a Democrat. He died in 1916; the Refugio County community of Woodsboro is named in his honor.

Lewis E. Daniell, Personnel of the Texas State Government, with Sketches of Representative Men of Texas (Austin: City Printing, 1887; 3d ed., San Antonio: Maverick, 1892). Lawrence S. Johnson, Century of Service: The Concise History of Victoria Bank and Trust Company (Victoria: Victoria Bank and Trust, 1979).
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Civic Leaders
  • Business
  • Patrons, Collectors, and Philanthropists
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Wood, Tobias DeCantillon,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 11, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/wood-tobias-decantillon.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995