Biography of William W. Wadsworth

William W Wadsworth
William W Wadsworth

William W. Wadsworth, a native of Autauga County, Ala., and one of the leading businessmen of Alabama, was born near Prattville, October 17, 1841, the son of Daniel and Sallie (Matthews) Wadsworth. The father was born in Moore County, N. C., in 1810, and the mother is a native of Georgia. In 1832, Daniel Wadsworth came to Alabama and settled in Autauga County, where he was married, passing twice through the nuptial ceremony. His first wife was Miss Matthews, who died in 1846, and his second wife was Miss M. A. Norris. Mr. Wadsworth, who was one of the most prominent planters and representative citizens of the county, died in 1876. His parents were William and Sarah Wadsworth, the former a native of Connecticut, who was married in North Carolina and there passed the remainder of his life. He was a farmer, for many years county sheriff, at one time a member of the legislature, and a man of considerable ability and prominence. He was connected with the old Gov. Wadsworth family of colonial times, and a worthy representative of its respectability. Abram Matthews, the father of Sallie Matthews, came from Georgia to Alabama at an early day and settled near Prattville, and died in 1837 or 1838; his widow died in Texas only a few years ago. To Daniel and Sallie (Matthews) Wadsworth were born five children, viz: Mary Frances, deceased wife of G. Z. Wood, also deceased; Malcolm S., who was in the Prattville dragoons on the coast for a short time during the Civil war, and later in company H, Third Alabama cavalry, with Wheeler in Tennessee, was captured near Strawberry Plain in 1863, and imprisoned at Rock Island, Ill., until the cessation of hostilities; William W., whose name opens this sketch; John W., who was in the Confederate army in the west in the latter part of the war and died after the war was over, and James K. P., who was in the same command with John W., and who also died after the close of the struggle. The children born to Daniel and M. A. (Norris) Wadsworth were named Charlotte Ellen, widow of Lewis Fitz; Patrick D., deceased; Newton Y., of Arkansas; Florence, wife of Charles Flint, of Michigan; Sallie, who died young; Mills A., who died in Louisiana; Kate and Anna, who both died while still young, and Jesse D., now of Birmingham, Ala. William W. Wadsworth was reared on the home plantation and received a sound, but somewhat limited education, and just on the verge of his majority, fired with zeal for the cause of his native south, enlisted, or rather attempted to enlist, early in 1861 in the Confederate army, but underwent the mortification of rejection on account of having both arms broken, caused by a falling building, and his arms were never set as he was not expected to live. However, he succeeded in enlisting in the next year in an infantry company at Fort Morgan, afterward transferred to Prattville dragoons, which were with Gen. Wheeler in his memorable campaign in east Tennessee; thence to Atlanta and on to the sea, and into the Carolinas, passing the last winter of the conflict at Beaufort, S. C. During his service he received five distinct and severe wounds, one of which was by a minie ball that passed “clear through his body, barely missing his heart. In 1864 he was captured near Strawberry Plain, the point where his brother had been captured the previous year; but, having a somewhat vivid impression of the disagreeability’s of prison life, he resolved on escape; accordingly, as soon as the opportunity presented itself, seizing one of his captor’s most speedy horses, he mounted, broke through the lines, and was soon free. He kept the animal which had thus assisted him in this daring feat for some years after the close of the war, and when it died gave it a respectable burial — for a horse. Soon after the war had closed, Mr. Wadsworth engaged in saw-milling, which he has successfully followed ever since — a period of twenty-eight years and is recognized by all the southern lumbermen’s associations as one of the leaders of the craft. He was once president of the Southern Lumbermen’s association, and later vice-president of the Southern Lumbermen’s manufacturing association. In 1880, he located at the station which bears his name on the Louisville & Nashville railroad, in Autauga County, where he now has one of the most complete plants in the state for the manufacture of rough and dressed timber, with a capacity of 40,000 to 50,000 feet per day, and employing from 100 to 125 operatives, whose payroll reaches $3,000 per month. He has 12,000 acres of timber land, nine miles of steel railroad track, and a general store; he also owns two mills in Elmore County and one in Crenshaw County, all doing a good business; beside these, he is proprietor of the Woodwork and Manufacturing company of Montgomery and is in every respect a thoroughgoing and successful businessman, esteemed by all with whom he comes in contact. He is pronounced and prominent in his politics as a democrat, and is chairman of the democratic county executive committee, and of the congressional committee, but yet is not an aspirant for official honors. May 9, 1866, Mr. Wadsworth was united in the bonds of matrimony with Miss Idella P., daughter of Burkett Thompson, who was an early settler of this country, and who died in Autauga County, of which his father was one of the first settlers, and which is also the birthplace of his daughter. The union of Mr. Wadsworth and Miss Thompson have been blessed by the birth of five children, viz: William M., who was educated at the state university and at Poughkeepsie, N. Y.; Frances E., wife of Dr. S. W. Jackson; Sallie M., who died in infancy; Mary Idella and Edward, all of whom Mr. Wadsworth has spared, or is sparing, no pains nor expense to prepare for the social and business worlds.


Memorial record of Alabama : a concise account of the state’s political, military, professional and industrial progress, together with the personal memoirs of many of its people.. Madison, Wis.: Brant & Fuller, 1893.

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