Joseph Woodward

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Joseph Woodward

Joseph Hersey Woodward (born December 1843 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; died December 15, 1917 in Birmingham) was the chairman and president of the Woodward Iron Company and a director and vice-president of the First National Bank of Birmingham.

Joseph was the son of Stimpson Harvey and Margaret Glass Woodward. He grew up in Wheeling, Virginia where his father was partner in the La Belle Iron Works and was educated at the Lindsley Institute there. During the Civil War West Virginia was admitted as a new state of the Union, and the Lindsley Institute's building served as its first capitol. Woodward, like his fellow cadets, enlisted with the United States Army. He served for three years before being discharged due to injury.

Woodward accompanied his father to Alabama in 1869 to look over properties on Red Mountain and the Warrior Coal Field. The elder Woodward purchased thousands of acres in Jefferson County and Tuscaloosa County for investment, but did not believe that the time was right to pursue industrial development. Joseph relocated to Taylor, Texas to operate a large cattle ranch. In 1876, at his father's request, he returned to the busy Birmingham District where he observed the Eureka Experiment at Oxmoor_Furnaces which demonstrated the viability of making iron from local materials.

By the time the Woodward's incorporated the Woodward Iron Company in 1881 the Birmingham District was booming. Joseph and his brother William served as secretary and president, respectively, and began work on their first ore mine near Bessemer. The company put the first of the Woodward Furnaces into blast in 1883 and grew to become one of the nation's largest pig iron producers with an annual output of more than 250,000 tons. William left the business to his brother in 1886. Joseph's son, Rick Woodward took over as president in 1910.

Joseph Woodward married the former Martha Burt Metcalf and had three children: Bertha, Mary Margaret and Allen.

Woodward died in December 1917 after two years of infirmity, and is buried at Elmwood Cemetery.


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