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John Presley Woods,

Pastor of Wilmore Baptist Church, Comanche County, Kansas,

and Sun City Baptist Church, Barber County, Kansas.

From Elloise Leffler's photo collection, courtesy of Kim Fowles

Rev. John Pressley Woods

Pastor of
Wilmore Baptist Church,
Comanche County, Kansas,

and the
Sun City Baptist Church,
Barber County, Kansas.

From Elloise Leffler's photo collection, courtesy of Kim Fowles.

Sun City Baptist Church minute book:
"John Presley Woods of Clearwater Kans. was called to fill the pastorate and in May 1911 removed, with his family, to Sun City and commenced his pastoral work preaching his first sermon May 17, 1911." (He left in May 1912.)


This page contains many off-site links to the Barber County, Kansas: History & Genealogy website. Each off-site link will open a new browser window.

The Western Star, March 18, 1949.

Beloved Baptist Pastor Passes Away

Had Been a Resident of Wilmore Community Since 1940

Funeral services for Rev. John P. Woods, who passed away in Anthony, Kans., March 7, were held in the Baptist church in Wilmore Thursday afternoon of last week at 2:30 and were in charge of the pastor, Rev. Noel Woods, assisted by Rev. Welker, pastor of the Wilmore Methodist church.

A mixed quartet composed of Walter Smith, Mrs. Arthur Barber, Mrs. F. H. Moberley and Mrs. Rod Baker sang "I Was a Wanderer" and "Near the Cross" and Mr. Smith sang "God Understands." Mrs. Austin Cobb was the accompanist.

Burial was in the Wilmore cemetery. The honorary pallbearers were C. V. Lott, F. H. Moberley, Josh Pendergraft, L. L. Larimer, Lawrence York, L. E. Baker, Warren Day and C. O. Masterson. The active pallbearers were Homer Pearce, Homer Hoagland, August Kaminska, Bruce Adams, Hully Hoss and Frank Harrington of Sun City.

Relatives from out of county who attended the funeral were Mrs. Bill Falkner, Mr. and Mrs. Taylor and Mr. and Mrs. Walter W. Woods of Hutchinson and Mrs. Amelia Tucker of Kansas City, Mo., a sister of Rev. Woods.

Among the out of county friends who came for the funeral were Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Hoopes, Mrs. Ada Cass, Mrs. Perry Moore, and John Smith of Anthony, Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Adams, Mr. and Mrs. Hully Hoss, Mr. and Mrs. August Kaminska, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Harrington, Mrs. Elmer Collins, Mrs. Blanche Massey, John Campbell and Rev. York of Sun City and Charley Pendergraft and wife of Wichita.


John Pressley Woods, son of Rev. William Woods and Mary Foster Woods, was born at Kirkwood, Ill., on September 28, 1879, and passed away at the Galloway hospital at Anthony, Kans., Monday evening, March 7, 1940, after a major operation on Sunday evening. He would have been 70 years old next September.

At the age of five he came with his parents to Union Town, Kans., where his father took the pastorate of the Baptist church. He obtained work in the Ft. Scott printing office and practically grew up in this type of work. At the age of 19 he was known as "Old Slug Nine" on the Ft. Scott Daily Monitor. He worked there until he was converted at the age of 21 in the spring of 1900, and he united with the First Baptist church of Ft. Scott.

Soon afterward he heard a missionary pleading for workers, saying it was harder to get a pastor to go to western Kansas than to get someone to go to the mission field. He felt the call to take the Lord's work and dedicated his life to the gospel ministry.

He worked with several newspapers in Kansas, including the Lawrence Daily Journal, the Abilene Chronicle and the Pleasanton Observer. It was while working with the Pleasanton Observer that he met Miss Vergie Blackman, and on May 29, 1903, they were united in marriage in Ft. Scott, Kans., with his father as the officiating minister.

Three children were born to this union: Dwight W. and Joseph E. Woods, and Mrs. Gwendolyn Baker, all of who survive.

Although he had ability in a number of fields of endeavor, he is remembered and loved as a faithful minister of the Lord Jesus Christ. His first sermon was preached at Abilene, Kans., and his first pastorate was at Roxbury in McPherson county.

He had a long and fruitful ministry, having held pastorates in Roxbury, Clearwater, Ness City, Anthony, Wilmore, and Sun City in Kansas and in Lamar, Colo., and was pastor for two years at Allerton, Iowa. His last work was with the church at Sun City where, after a blessed ministry of seven years, he was compelled to retire due to failing health. Previous to his pastoral work, both he and Mrs. Woods had taken preparatory work at the Collegiate Institute at Ft. Scott.

Since 1940 he and Mrs. Woods made their home in the Wilmore community.

Another evidence of his zeal for the lost is shown by the fact that he spent several years in special evangelistic work while the family lived in Hutchinson.

For a number of years he had been a constant sufferer of bronchial asthma. This became much more critical and he was compelled to enter Galloway hospital, where after submitting to a major operation, the Lord in mercy and love called him home.

He leaves to mourn his loss his dear companion, Mrs. Vergie Woods of the home in Wilmore; two sons; Dwight W. Woods of Eugene, Ore., and Joseph E. Woods of Houston, Texas, a daughter, Mrs. Gwendolyn Baker, of Greensburg; three grandchildren: Cherry Ann and Joe Baker of Greensburg and Joseph Jr. of Houston; also a sister, Mrs. James Daley of Tulsa, Okla., and a brother, Walter W. Woods, of Hutchinson.

Besides his immediate family are other relatives and many friends to whom he so graciously ministered through the years.

He was a devoted husband and father, a strong advocate for civic righteousness, but most blessed of all a sincere and godly minister of Christ, our Lord and Savior.

His interest never flagged. He often longed to be again a reaper in the fields "white unto harvest" and continued his sermon preparations to the end.

We will surely miss him but his sufferings are over. He was ready to go and now he is at rest with God. ---Contributed.

Card of Thanks

No one can know or understand how much we have appreciated the kindness shown us in the sickness and death of our loved one. The consolation of having friends who care is something words cannot express.

Mrs. Vergie Woods.
Mr. and Mrs. Dwight Woods.
Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Woods and family.
Mr. and Mrs. Nick Baker and family.

Anecdotes about Ralph Massey and Reverend Woods

"Dad was 26 and Mom was 23 when they were married by Rev. J.P. Woods in the Sun City Baptist Church. Dad was pretty ornery and one Sunday morning he had slipped a deck of cards into J.P.'s top coat pocket handkerchief. Usually about half way through his hell and damnation sermon he would whip out the handkee to wipe the sweat off his brow and when he did the cards come flying out all over the alter, and naturally cards were the handy work of the devil!!!!!! Woods calmly picked the cards and stated to the congregation that it was evident that Ralph Massey was present today. Old preach got even with Dad on the wedding day (1916) by jacking the rear wheels of Dad's and Mom's get away car up so that it wouldn't move and the crowd gave them a gala shower of all sorts of produce and other items I guess." -- Nate Massey, July 2005.

"Joe Woods of Greensburg was a guest at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Nick Baker Saturday night. Mr. and Mrs. Nick Baker and Joe Woods went to Sun City Sunday and spent the day at the home of Rev. and Mrs. J. P. Woods." -- (excerpt from) Wilmore News, The Wilmore News, October 18, 1936.

"Joe Woods accompanied his parents Rev. and Mrs. J. P. Woods of Sun City to Colorado Springs Monday. Joe will return in about a week, and the others will stay for a longer time. Mr. and Mrs. Hoopes and Mrs. Gass of Anthony, Kans., friends of the Woods family, also made the trip." -- Wilmore News Items, The Wilmore News, July 28, 1939.

Woods - Wright
The wedding of Miss Leone Wright, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Wright of Crescent, Oregon, to Dwight Woods, son of Rev. and Mrs. J. P. Woods of Sun City, took place Sunday ( July 4) afternoon at 4 o'clock at the Baptist parsonage in Sun City. Rev. Woods, the father of the groom officiated at the single ring ceremony. The bride is a graduate of Wilmore High School in the class of 1932. She then entered nurses training in Wesley Hospital in Wichita, graduating in the spring class of 1937. The groom is also a graduate of the Wilmore High School class of 1932. On completing his high school courses he took up the barber trade in Wilmore. The young couple will make their home at Sawyer, where Mr. Woods has operated a barber shop for the past few months. Wilmore and vicinity extend their best wishes to the young couple throughout their married life. -- The Wilmore News, July 9, 1937.

Burial Records

WOODS, Vergie A.: July 9, 1880 - February 21, 1959: 'Mother'
Note: Vergie A. Blackman, wife of Rev. John P. Woods.
Comanche County History, p. 768
Lot #84, Powell Township Cemetery, Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas.

WOODS, John P.: September 28, 1879 - March 7, 1949 :'Father'
John Presley Woods, husband of Vergie A. Blackman. Title: Reverand John P. Woods. Served the Wilmore Baptist Church for 7 years.
Comanche County History, p. 768
Lot #84, Powell Township Cemetery, Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas.

KENNEDY, Gwendolyn Marie (Woods) Baker : August 24, 1909 - December 2, 1998.
Daughter of Rev. John P. Woods and Vergie Woods. Her first husband was Nick Baker.
Comanche County History, pp. 227, 768
Lot #84, Powell Township Cemetery, Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas.

Rev. J.P. Woods conducted many funerals and weddings in the area. Among the Comanche County funerals were those for:

Perry Arthur Barber
Alwilda Olders (Royce) Behler
John Bell
Robert Bell
Margie (Maxey) Combs
Ruth Nadine Hall
Pauline (DeMoss) Hoskins
Mary Louisa (Oliver) Larimer
Laura Helen Payne
Charles Arnold, Jr. & Ralph Wayne Pendergraft
Lydia Roena (Griggs) Ray
Willis Jackson Ray
Ira Schultz
Glenn Harvey Shearer
Donna Rose Waters
William Newton Waters

Among the Barber County funerals were those for:

Rev. Johnson M. "Bud" Adams
John Henry Garten
Opal May Garten
Roy John Garten
Lewis Maple Hastings
Sam Helton
Reuben Lake
Riley Lake
Betty E. (Short) Likes
George W. Lott
Mary (Adams) Saunders
John St. Clair Williams

Barber County marriages included:

Ralph and Blanche Massey

WWI Draft Registration card for John Presley Woods of Ness City, Kansas.
Draft Registration card: John Presley Woods of Ness City, Kansas.

United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls.

Thanks to Kim Fowles for finding, transcribing and contributing the above church minutes and the photo to this web site and to Nate Massey for the anecdotes!

Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news articles to this web site!

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