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Saturday, November 14, 2015


General Amos W. W. Woodcock

One of the more notable past residents of Salisbury was Amos W. W. Woodcock. His father was a jeweler who opened his business in Salisbury in 1853. That business is still in operation and is now Kuhn’s Jewelers, the sixth oldest continually operating jewelry store in the United States.

Amos Woodcock was born on October 29, 1883 to Amos Wilson and Julia Ann Harris (Wright) Woodcock. He went to all the local schools and, upon completing his secondary education at Wicomico High School; he entered St. John’s College. He graduated in 1903 at the head of his class with a Bachelor of Arts degree. His Bachelor of Laws degree was obtained at theUniversity of Maryland in 1910. Harvard University granted him the degree of Master of Arts in 1912. He also received two honorary Doctor of Laws degrees in his lifetime – one from Washington University in 1932 and one from St. John’sCollege in 1937.

When he graduated from Harvard in 1912, he returned to Salisbury and began the practice of law in the law firm of Woodcock and Webb.

Having joined the National Guard as an enlisted man in 1904, he had achieved the rank of Captain by 1916 and served on the Mexican border prior to World War I. During the war he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the 115th Infantry Regiment serving with the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. Since December 1, 1936, he attained the rank of Brigadier General commanding the 58th Brigade of the Maryland National Guard. During World War II, he saw active duty from February 3, 1941 to August 25, 1942. After the termination of hostilities, from December 1, 1945 to March 31, 1946, he was engaged as an attorney in the prosecution of Japanese war criminals, resigning on the latter date.

Along the way, he was quite active in civilian life. He was assistant attorney general of the state of Maryland from 1920 to 1922, and United States Attorney for the District of Maryland from 1922 to 1930. Between 1930 and 1933, he was the United States Bureau of Prohibition. He was appointed assistant to the Attorney General of the United States on April 1, 1933.

He was president of St. John’s College from 1934 to 1937. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Salisbury National Bank.

Rumor has it that during high school he made a pact with his sister, Elizabeth (Wilsie) Woodcock, that neither of them would ever marry. She was a teacher all her life and many old timers remember her well. I think Amos must have helped her out financially, as in her biography by him published in 1947; he recounted much about her twelve trips to Europe in her lifetime. Neither of them ever married and Salisbury probably is not better off for the lack of the progeny of two such outstanding people.


Anonymous said...

Thanks again, George. If not for you, almost none of the public would know anything about Salisbury's history.
Wouldn't it be a good thing if local schools devoted at least one or two class periods per year to local history and the accomplishments of local people? We risk that our history will be forgotten unless the stories are told.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the history on General Woodcock.

Anonymous said...

I was 11 or 12 when I was introduced to this gentleman in the early 60's.I don't think he lived much longer after that,but he dearly loved everything patriotic.He had an affinity for Civil War history.Truly an influential part of the 20th century.

Anonymous said...

The Woodcock family (brother and sister) have legacies that live on. The Civic Center and Woodcock Playground are only two of them.

Sam Smullen said...

Thanks for the History George. Like others I look forward to your research and hard work. Thank You Sam Smullen

Anonymous said...

I agree with 9:22. Local history is important. Teach it in our schools.

Anonymous said...

History is a dying school class. These teachers now days don't care about history and when they teach do it , it's full of crap and lies.

Anonymous said...

But no one ever specifies exactly what was avoided because of a knowledge of history."They who don't know their history are destined to repeat it" or something like that is what I've heard for my entire life.What specifically did we not repeat? Those who made the ultimate decisions were very knowledgeable of US and world history and the deterioration continues,unless I've completely missed something.Unless something happens real fast,History needs to no longer be taught in schools because it isn't working.