ABNER PALMER WOODWORTH.
Crawford county, perhaps, owes more of its financial and industrial growth to the life and influence of the late Abner Palmer Woodworth than to any other one individual. He was an important factor in the life of Robinson from 1850 up to the time of his death, and contributed largely toward its advancement during those years.
Mr. Woodworth was born in Palestine, Illinois, on June 20, 1829, and was a son of John Spencer and Elizabeth (Greer) Woodworth. The father was born on a farm near Albany, New York, on December 29, 1775. The mother was a native of South Carolina, born there in 1779, and they were united in marriage in Lawrence county, Illinois, where he died in 1850, his widow surviving him for several years. John Spencer Woodworth came to Kentucky in 1812. It was about then that he began to hear about the land lying along the Wabash
river, and the reports were so attractive that he, with about twenty others, came to Illinois to investigate the condition. Well pleased with the prospect, they returned to Kentucky and when the Illinois land was opened up in 1814 the party came back and settled. This party comprised a pioneer group of settlers of Crawford county and they lived there in primitive fashion, log cabins being the prevailing style in architecture. Indians were constantly to be seen on the prairies and wild animals abounded. Mr. Woodworth eventually bought land near the present site of Palestine, on which he lived until the time of his death. He was a man of no little prominence in Crawford county and throughout the state in its early days. He was the second sheriff of the county. At that time Crawford county included Chicago, which was Mr. Woodworth's apple market, freighting his produce to Chicago by team. He was a prosperous farmer, owning at one time one thousand acres of land, a large portion of which he cleared and brought into a high state of cultivation. The family is one of old Colonial stock, Roswell Woodworth, the grandfather of Abner P. Woodworth, having served in the Revolutionary war, as did also his maternal grandfather. On both sides of the house, prominent men were to be found who played important parts in the early days of our country.
Abner Palmer Woodworth was educated at Hanover College, Indiana. He was well trained in the science of farming on his father's place, to which he gave close attention in his school days. After two years of college training the young man took a position as clerk in a store, and in 1852 he was so well advanced that he, was able to buy a half interest in the business of C. B. Lagow & Company in Robinson, and until 1863 the business of the store was conducted under the firm name of Woodworth & Lagow. In those days theirs was the only store in Robinson, then a straggling village of one hundred inhabitants perhaps. In 1863 they sold the stock to the firm of Braden & Dorothy and in the same year Mr. Woodworth engaged in the mercantile business alone, continuing until 1868, at which time he launched a small banking enterprise in connection with his mercantile business, with the firm name of Woodworth Brothers & Company. This was later changed to the Robinson Bank, the change occurring in 1875, and in 1896 was reorganized and, incorporated as the First National Bank of Robinson, with A. P. Woodworth as president, a position which he held at the time of his death. In 1875 Mr. Woodworth gave over his mercantile interests entirely, thereafter devoting himself without reserve to the banking business until the reorganization of the bank in 1896.
In addition to his many other enterprises, Mr. Woodworth assisted in the organization of the Paris & Danville Railroad, now known as the “Big Four,” and was the founder of the Woodworth Hotel. On reaching his majority he cast his first vote with the Whig party and later helped to organize the Republican party in Crawford county. He always was active in political matters, but never was prevailed upon to hold public office. He was a member of the Presbyterian church and was a trustee of that body for many years.
On August 18, 1868, Mr. Woodworth was united in marriage with Ellen King at Binghamton, New York. She was a daughter of Andrew King, and was born in Lexington, Kentucky, but later removed to Cincinnati, Ohio, where she lived until her marriage. Mr. King was a member of the firm of King, Corwin & Company, wholesale dry-goods merchants, and in later life removed to Leavenworth, Kansas, where he passed away. No children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Woodworth.