August 29: William Willis Wylie Wood (1882)

William W.W. Wood was one of the pioneers in the United States steam navy. He was the third Engineer-in-Chief of the Bureau of Steam Engineering, serving from 1873 until 1877, with the relative rank of Commodore. He followed in the footsteps of the first Engineer-in Chief, Benjamin Isherwood, who served during the Civil War and was an Epiphany parishioner as well. Wood was born outside of Raleigh, North Carolina, where his father was a large planter. After study with a private tutor and following the death of his father, Wood was sent to a college in Maryland. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was then under construction. Wood first saw a locomotive and it was this that developed his love for mechanics. After further study, Wood entered the West Point Foundry where he completed an apprenticeship, acquiring a thorough knowledge of engineering. Later, he superintended the erection and fitting of the engines for the steam frigate Missouri, the first naval vessel on which machinery was successfully employed.

Wood was appointed to the navy in 1845 with the rank of Chief Engineer and superintended the construction of the boilers and engines of the steam frigate Merrimac at Cold Spring, New York. During the Civil War he rendered valuable services on special duty connected with the steam engineering service at the navy yards in New York, Philadelphia and Boston. Wood was head of the Department of Steam Engineering at the Naval Academy, Chief Engineer of the New York Navy Yard and eventually Chief of the Bureau of Steam Engineering, headquartered in Washington, D.C. It was at this time that Wood became associated with Epiphany. His youngest daughter, Emilie Grace, was baptized at the church at age 17, followed by her confirmation five months later. Following Wood’s death in 1882, his funeral was at Epiphany prior to his burial in Oak Hill Cemetery.

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