December of 1858 came to a close in Turner with the creation of Oakwood Cemetery, signed into existence on Christmas Day.
Daniel Wood was one of those signatories and served as a founding director. He was a man who had lived the majority of his life in Vermont before selling his farm to move to Illinois, joining his adult children who were already living in the area. In his youth, Daniel and his neighbors had joined together to protect the northeastern states from succumbing to the British forces in the War of 1812.
Daniel and his wife, Sybil Holbrook Wood, hailed from Swanton, Vermont, near the Canadian border on the edge of Lake Champlain. Lake Champlain stretches 125 miles from Canada south to Ticonderoga, with the city of Plattsburgh, New York, on the southwestern side. The Great Lakes region became increasingly under the domination of the Americans as the United States expanded and by 1813 the British were desperate to seize power over this lake. The lake was a strategic landmark and whoever controlled it would be able to control the area around it.
When the fighting broke out, the War of 1812 was not hugely popular for Vermonters, as they relied on continued trade with Canada, and the Embargo Act of 1807 had already cut off all legal trade. However, they did not want the British or Canadians coming in and taking over their area. Regular townspeople, including Daniel Wood, formed militia companies and marched off to protect their land and interests. Daniel’s company, was headed by Captain Elijah Wood, possibly one of his uncles, and crossed Lake Champlain to help guard Plattsburgh in the State of New York against the British.
In November of 1813, their regiment received a letter from the Vermont Governor demanding that they stop protecting New York and come home. The militia was so irate when they received this proclamation that they looked on it as the Governor’s attempt to incite insubordination. The men’s response shows the growing nationalism as they viewed their calling to fight the British for their country higher than obeying the power of a governor.
The British did not launch their large attack that fall, though, and the militia returned to Vermont and the farmers returned to their homes. In 1814, the threat became more immediate, the militia gathered again, and this time the governor let them go. At least some of Elijah Wood’s Company returned to Plattsburgh. A contemporary issue of the Vermont Burlington Gazette said this about those men:
We rejoice to find our militia are turning out with a spirit that does honour to themselves and their country. There can be but one voice on this subject. Whatever we think of the war our country is dear to us, and we hope not to flee an enemy within our borders.
The Battle of Plattsburgh was won on September 11, 1814.
Back in Swanton, Daniel farmed most of his life, and had eight children. Many of his wife Sybil’s relatives had immigrated west, especially to Illinois. By the mid 1850s, Daniel had sold his farm to his brother and had joined his relatives out west, settling in Winfield Township in the area of Turner.
Even in old age and living in a new community, Daniel was not immune from war. When Daniel died in 1864, it was just a year and a half after his son Hollis had died in St. Louis from wounds suffered in the Battle of Vicksburg during the Civil War. His son, Henry Seymour Wood, also served in that war and became West Chicago’s oldest Civil War survivor before dying in 1935.