John "Washtub" Woodson

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John Woodson, Jr.

Also Known As: "Washtub"
Birthplace: Piersey's, Prince George County, Virginia
Death: September 1684 (51-52)
Fleur de Hundred, Prince George's County, Virginia
Place of Burial: Henrico, Virginia
Immediate Family:

Son of Dr. John Woodson, of Flowerdew Hundred and Sarah Johnson
Husband of Mary Woodson and Sarah Woodson
Father of John Woodson, III; Mary Jane Woodson; Samuel Tucker Woodson and Robert Woodson
Brother of Col. Robert Woodson and Deborah Woodson

Managed by: Private User
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About John "Washtub" Woodson

For two very interesting stories about the backgrounds of John Woodson and his wife, Sarah, parents of John Woodson, Jr. see:

Massacre of 1644

On 18 April 1644 the smoldering Indian resentment against the colonists broke out again when Chief Opechankano led a massive attack against the settlers, slaughtering around 300 settlers before the colonists were able to drive the attackers away. Casualties at Fleur de Hundred (Piersey’s Hundred) were not high, probably because it was a palisaded settlement. (A palisade is a fence of long, strong stakes, pointed at the top and set close together as a defense.) John and Sarah might still have been living at Piersey’s Hundred on 18 April 1644, but they had probably already moved to Curles. In any event, both John and Sarah survived. The next day, however, the Indians struck again.

The account of John and Sarah’s fate during the Massacre of 1644 can be found in almost every discussion of the Woodson family. The details vary somewhat from story to story, but in each case Sarah’s heroism, quick thinking, and bravery are paramount.

On 19 April 1644, the day after the 1644 massacre, Dr. John Woodson had gone to check on the welfare of some of his patients. While he was gone, the Indians attacked again. Sarah was in their home with her sons, John, Jr., and Robert, who were at the time 12 and 10 respectively.

A visitor named Thomas or Robert Ligon was also in the Woodson’s home. (Most accounts do not mention his first name and simply call him Ligon.) Ligon may have come to warn the Woodsons, for they did have a little time to prepare. Sarah gave Ligon her husband’s gun, an old, 8-foot-long, muzzle loading rifle. He quickly found a notched tree branch in the yard to use to brace the gun. In the meantime, Sarah hid John, Jr., under a washtub and had Robert get into a hole in the floor that the family used for storing potatoes. She hoped that the boys would be safely hidden if the attackers managed to get inside the house.

Sarah also put a large pot of water on the fire to boil so that it could be used as a possible weapon. Sarah and Ligon worked as a team to use the large gun: Sarah loaded it, and Ligon fired it. When the Indians attacked the cabin, Ligon killed three Indians with his first shot. With the second shot he killed two more. Suddenly Sarah realized two Indians were on the roof, trying to come down the chimney. She took her bedding off the bed and threw it into the fireplace. The resulting smoke overcame the Indians who fell down the chimney. One fell into the boiling water and was scalded. (Some versions say Sarah threw the water on him.) Next, Sarah grabbed the roasting spit from the fireplace and brained the other. Both Indians were killed.

Turning once more to the threat of howling Indians outside, Sarah and Ligon put the gun to work again, killing two more attackers. In all, they had fired 3 shots. With 9 Indians dead, the remainder fled. As soon as the Indians were gone, Sarah called her two sons from their hiding places. Tradition has it that for several years afterward the boys bore the nicknames “Tub” and “Potato Hole.” In addition, Woodson researchers often ask the question, “Are you a Tub Woodson or Potato Hole Woodson?”

John2 Woodson has been generally accepted as the son of John and Sarah Woodson of Flowerdew Hundred and Piercey's Hundred. He may have been born about 1632. John was listed among the tithables living at "Curles" in Henrico County on 2, June 1679. It is interesting to note that, while the brother, John and Robert, had not been identified as Mister in the list of tithables of 1679, they were so identified in their land patents. None of the Woodson men of that time were literate; however, they were substantial citizens and respected planters. He was further listed as one of forty men who were ordered by the court to "fitt out men horse and arms" according to the Act of the Assembly. He was credited with three tithables and John Woodson, Jr., his son, was credited with two.

John married about 1660, but the name of his wife and the mother of his children is not known. It's possible that Mary Plesants was the mother of his children. He apparently married a second time to Sarah Browne, the widow of John Browne. When she made her will, she left her personal property to the children of her first marriage.

John died in 1684. He made his will on 20, August 1684 and his son, John3, presented it in court on 1, October 1684. In his will he named his brother Robert's four youngest children.

Mrs. Sarah Browne Woodson, widow, took it upon herself to operate the ferry that her son, Jeremiah Browne, has contracted to maintain. She informed the court in 1690 that it was she, who had kept the ferry, and she was entitled to the county levy. She paid 2000 pounds of tobacco yearly until her death for keeping the ferry. Sarah Woodson, widow, was credited with 650 acres of land in the quit rents rolls of 1704 for Henrico County. She wrote her will on 24, February 1701 and her daughter, Temperance Farrar, was granted probate of the will on 1, November, 1704 in Henrico County.

Children of John Woodson2 and his 1st wife (unknown):

1. John Woodson3, born before 1663 in Virginia

2. Robert Woodson, whose later whereabouts or children, after he was named in his father's will, are unknown. Had two children: Jane and Samuel.

He joined the Quakers and had a will probated on 1 Oct 1684 in Prince George Co., VA.

John married Sarah Browne 1 about 1677 in Henrico Co., VA. Sarah was born about 1632. She died 2 on 16 Jun 1692 in Henrico Co., VA.

They had the following children:

+ 5 M i John Woodson III was born in 1655. He died after 1 May 1700. + 6 M ii Robert Woodson was born in 1657. He died in 1684.

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John "Washtub" Woodson's Timeline

Piersey's, Prince George County, Virginia
Curles, Henrico County, Virginia
Curles, Henrico County, Virginia, United States
Henrico, Henrico County, Virginia, United States
Henrico, Virginia, USA
September 1684
Age 52
Prince George's County, Virginia
September 1684
Age 52
Henrico, Virginia