|THOMAS BENTON HOOD.|
Thomas Benton Hood, now living. retired in Thermopolis,
has had a most interesting career. There is no phase of mining
development or of pioneer life in the west with which he is not
familiar. He has been identified with many events which have shaped
the history of the vast empire west of the Mississippi and his life
record if written in detail would present a very clear and accurate
picture of conditions as they existed throughout the mining regions
and in the frontier settlements of a half century ago.
Mr. Hood was born in Macon county, Missouri, May 6, 1842, and has therefore passed the seventy-sixth milestone on life's journey. His parents were Andrew and Ann (McCann) Hood. The father was a native of Dublin, Ireland, while the mother was born in County Down, Ireland. They were married, however, in Montreal, Canada, where in early life Andrew Hood worked at the tailor's trade. After his removal to Missouri, however, he followed farming for a time, and Thomas B. Hood remembers the conversation of the family relating to their tobacco raising. He was the youngest in a family of four children who are living and the only son. Two other children of the family died in infancy. The eldest of the daughters is Rebecca, who.became the wife of Calvin W. Cook, a Tennessean, who was a newspaper man. They are now both deceased and they left a family of two daughters, who reside in California, and a son. Caroline Hood, the second of the family, became the wife of J. R. Ralston, a merchant of Oregon City, Oregon, and a pioneer of that section of the west. They had four sons and one daughter. Sarah Jane became the wife of John Meyers, who became a merchant of Oregon City, Oregon, and was a very prominent resident of Portland. Oregon, at the time of his demise. They had a family of six daughters and four sons. The family became identified with the west at a very early date. It was in1845 that Andrew Hood went to Oregon City, crossing the continent with ox teams. He started from Macon county, Missouri, at which time his son. Thomas Benton, was but three years of age. The trip was made up the Platte river. which they crossed at Bessemer near the mouth of Poison Spider, above Casper. On reaching Oregon City the father took up his old trade of merchant tailoring and also conducted a store. He likewise became proprietor of a hotel there which at that time was the largest building in the city, a two-story frame structure. He was everywhere known as “squire” by reason of the fact that he held the office of justice of the peace. He belonged to the Masonic fraternity, to the teachings of which he was ever most loyal, and he was one of the most prominent, influential and honored residents of his community. He passed away in Oregon City about the year 1888, his death resulting from a sunstroke which he suffered about seventeen years before. From the effects he never entirely . recovered, however, and the immediate cause of his demise was a paralytic stroke. His wife survived him until about two, passing away near Tacoma, in Pierce county, Washington.
Thomas B. Hood was largely reared in Oregon when that was a wild western district. At the time of the removal of the family to the northwest the city of Portland was scarcely marked by a single cabin and he lived to witness the remarkable growth and development of that section of the country. He received only a limited common school education, in fact, like many boys, he was more interested in fun than in books and much of his education he has gathered through observation and in the hard school of experience. He roamed around the mining camps of Oregon, Idaho and California, his father removing in the spring of 1849 to the last named state during the gold excitement there. Mr. Hood well remembers Sacramento when there was not a house upon the site of the present city, only a few tents. In 1855 he ran away from home and worked his way to old Fort Colville, in Idaho, where was discovered the first gold north of California. He remained only a short time on account of the Indian uprising and returned to Oregon City, where he continued for a brief period. In 1861 he went to Orofino and to Elk City, Idaho, gold being discovered in that state at that time. He mined there for a time and afterward went to Walla Walla, Washington, although the entire state of Washington was at that period a part of Oregon. He was well acquainted with many of the prominent characters of that early period, including Dr. Blalock, Dr. Baker, Levi Ankeny and M. C. Moore, the last named afterwards governor of the state. In 1863 Mr. Hood went to the Salmon River country of Idaho, which was a mining district, and the town of Florence was then a mining camp. For a number of years he drifted around the western country and in 1865 he made his way to Silver City, Idaho, where he spent eighteen months, devoting his time to mining there. In 1866 and 1867 he engaged in packing with a mule train over the Coeur d'Alene mountains, passed over the Spokane Falls, where the city of Spokane now stands, and proceeded to Montana. He also made one or two trips to Cedar creek, Montana, and engaged in the freighting business for two years. In 1869 he established his home in Portland, Oregon, where he entered the employ of the Oregon Transfer Company, called the 0. T. Company, with which he continued for about six years. From 1875 until 1878 he was with the Oregon Steam Navigation Company on the Columbia river, working on the wharves, also as boatman and as warehouse boss. He followed work on the Columbia until about 1882, when he went to Gilliams, Oregon, where he spent a year as an employe on a sheep and horse ranch. In 1883 he arrived in Wyoming, in company with J. D. Woodruff, and settled in the Shoshone country, he and Mr. Woodruff, who is mentioned elsewhere in this work, being the first men in that section of the state. They arrived with a sheep outfit and Mr. Hood , continued to engage in the sheep industry for about twenty-five or thirty years, retiring in 1910 on account of impaired eyesight. He has since made his home in Thermopolis, enjoying a rest which he has truly earned and richly deserves.
On the 3rd of September, 1891, at Newport, Vermont, Mr. Hood was united in marriage to Miss Harriette C. Shannon, who was born in Salem, Massachusetts. September 1, 1871, a daughter of John and Mary (De Rushe) Shannon, the former a native of Ireland, while the latter was a native of France. Mrs. Hood was reared in Newport, Vermont, and attended the Derby Academy at Derby. that state. She was the first woman delegate to attend the national convention of the democratic party as representative of the state of Wyoming, the convention being held in Denver in 1908. She was chairman in Hot Springs county for the third Liberty loan and she is a member of the Red Cross and a member of the Woman's Club of Thermopolis. She also belongs to the Pioneers Association of Casper and of Basin and she is deeply interested in all the vital questions which have to do with the advancement and upholding of the interests of community, commonwealth and country.
There are few men living who have had as wide and varied experience as has Mr. Hood, who has witnessed the development of various western states and in fact has aided largely therein. There is no phase of pioneer experience with which he is not familiar. His memory goes back to the time when the great pine forests of Oregon and of Washington were uncut, when the mineral resources of the northwest were undeveloped and when the most farsighted could not have dreamed of the great changes that were to occur there by reason of the building of railroads and the influx of settlers. For many years he was distinctively a frontiersman, being of that band of men who have been the forerunners of civilization in various communities. He located in Shoshone county when it was entirely a wild and undeveloped region and for more than a quarter of a century was closely associated with the promotion of those business interests which have led to its substantial progress and improvement. His reminiscences of the early days are most interesting and his memory forms a connecting link between the primitive past and the progressive present.