T.W. WOOD AND SONS SEEDSMEN
“In 1915 the local Chamber of Commerce, in Richmond, Va. listed four local businesses
As the largest in the world, one the largest in the country, and four the largest in the
South. Some have been family business enterprises, but certainly none that lasted as
long as T.W. Wood and Sons.”
Timothy W. Wood was born in Nottingham, England in 1840 where his father was a
farmer and trader in seeds. In 1878 when his father died, he sailed to America with his
family and began farming near Richmond, Virginia. In 1879 he decided to start a
business which he named “T. W. Wood and Sons Seedsmen”. His sons, William,
Henry and Charles joined him later in the venture.
The business was started in Timothy’s home, but quickly grew when he purchased a
small store in the farmer’s market area at Sixth and Marshall streets in downtown
Richmond. At one time there were four locations and warehouse space on 14th street,
now known as Shockoe Bottom in downtown Richmond. There was also warehouse
storage in downtown Wilmington, NC.another port city. The Cross Seed Company
(Wilmington, NC) benefited from an alliance and mentorship with T.W. Wood and Sons,
as did Southern States Co-op. As the business grew, the work force expanded to close
to 200 employees.
The Wood’s Seed catalog became an important part of the business, and boasted that it
was indeed the “Largest Seed House in the South” and the Largest Seed business in
America. The company owned their own printing office and there was a fleet of trucks
for delivery service. By 1924, the business had expanded to every state in the south,
and as far west as Texas. William Price helped to organize the “Southern Seedsmen
Association”, and served as its first President.
The publication, * “Sketches of Richmond listed the company as “one of the largest, oldest and most famous in the world, and added to the glory of Richmond as a center for the distribution of good merit.”
The partnership was dissolved in the late 1960’s and it was the end of a well known,
and well loved local business enterprise that had served the city well, for close to a
century. My father, Gordon F. Wood Jr. was one of the partners. Sadly, none of my
three siblings or I got to follow his footsteps into the company. We all shared many
memories of the downtown stores, as children, playing in seed bins, and running amok
in the warehouse!
By Denny Crowe
*Big Business in Richmond, The T.W. Wood and Sons Story Compiled by Ray Schreiner January 2010 Courtesy of the Virginia Historical Society/Virginia Museum of History and Culture