Woods, Henry Gonzalvo (1816–1869)

By: Paul N. Spellman

Type: Biography

Published: October 1, 1995

Updated: March 30, 2019

Henry Gonzalvo (Gon) Woods, early colonist, son of Minerva (Cottle) and Zadock Woods, was born in Troy, Missouri, on February 18, 1816. His parents were among Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred, arriving in Texas in December 1824. Woods was the youngest of six children and lived most of his life as an Indian fighter and rancher. He narrowly escaped capture by Indians in 1828, after his family moved from Matagorda County to the upper Colorado River, nine miles west of John H. Moore's fort. During the Texas Revolution Woods fought in the battles of Gonzales and Concepción (both October 1835). Although he did not participate in the battle of San Jacinto in April 1836, he served for three months afterward as a Texas Ranger. He fought under Moore against the Comanche Indians at San Sabá Presidio on February 15, 1839, and with Edward Burleson against Vicente Córdova in March 1839. After serving briefly on jury duty for Fayette County in April 1840, Woods served again under Colonel Moore in the expedition following the Plum Creek Fight that fall. In March 1842 he participated in the chase after Mexican general Rafael Vásquez. He rode with his father and his brother Norman Woods to the Salado River near San Antonio in September 1842 and was one of only two Texans to escape the Dawson Massacre on September 18. His father was killed and his brother captured.

Before Norman died on December 16, 1843, in Perote Prison in Mexico, he wrote a letter asking that his brother care for the family left behind. Woods married Norman's widow, Jane, on October 30, 1844, and raised Norman's five children and four of his own. In 1856 the family left Fayette County and moved to Shiloh in DeWitt County, where Woods became a successful rancher and horse-breeder. He built the first sawed-lumber, two-story home in the county and brought in the first cotton gin and the first cook stove to that area. Jane Woods died in 1866 and was buried in the Woods Cemetery in Shiloh. Woods enlisted in the Confederacy in 1863 and organized and served as captain of the Shiloh Home Guard, although illness prevented him from active service. The Woods family became unwilling participants in the Sutton-Taylor Feud following the Civil War. Woods was deputized to chase an alleged murderer named John Kerlick in the fall of 1869 and was ambushed and killed by Kerlick on November 28. Woods was buried next to Jane at the Woods Cemetery.

Julia Lee Sinks Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Andrew Jackson Sowell, Early Settlers and Indian Fighters of Southwest Texas (Austin: Ben C. Jones, 1900; rpt., Austin: State House Press, 1986). Paul Nuckols Spellman, Zadock and Minerva Cottle Woods, American Pioneers (M.A. thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 1987).

  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Military
  • Soldiers

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

Paul N. Spellman, “Woods, Henry Gonzalvo,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 30, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/woods-henry-gonzalvo.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 1, 1995
March 30, 2019