Used by permission from the Arizona Historical Society
”Since I have material that no one else can get today – those who told it to me are dead – I want to get it written.”
— Clara Woody to Sadie Schmidt of the Arizona Historical Society
Clara Thompson Woody was neither an academician nor a politician, but when the Gila County Archaeological and Historical Society opened a museum in her name in 1972, important members of both these fields attended the dedication ceremonies. Governor Jack Williams, state senators and representatives, the mayors of Globe and Miami, and Globe and Miami school administrators all turned out to honor this local historian.
Born in Belleville, Kansas in 1885, Clara Thompson lived in New Mexico and California before moving to Globe in 1917 to work as a secretary to county attorney Hugh Foster. Less than a year after moving to Globe, Clara met and married Clarence Woody of West Virginia. Mr. Woody was a soldier in the 1st U.S. Cavalry, which was called to Arizona to break up a mineworkers’ strike. Clara followed her husband to Texas and Oklahoma, and had two children, John and Jean. After Clarence was discharged, the family moved back to Globe.
From the time she worked at the county attorney’s office, Clara was interested in Arizona’s pioneer history. Accounts of how she began her vast collection of information about Gila County history vary. Some say a librarian from the State Library in Phoenix asked her to collect data on Gila County; in a 1972 interview, Clara said that a Phoenix newspaper asked her to write an article about the history of Globe. In any case, she was a very successful interviewer; survivors of the pioneer days gave her information that they would not impart to anyone else, often swearing her to secrecy until the parties had died. Her collecting interests did not stop with “oral history” but extended to historic photographs and artifacts as well.
Clara dreamed of writing four books: two about Arizona, one about New Mexico, and one about her family, who were “Ohio pioneer Quakers.” Unfortunately, the need to care for her family and hard times kept her from achieving her dream. She did, however, gather large amounts of historical data from interviews, newspapers, and court records, and she wrote many pamphlets and newspaper articles, including a series in Globe’s Arizona Record in 1956. She joined the board of directors of the Arizona Historical Society, and traveled to Tucson for their meetings as long as her health would permit.
In 1974, the Historical Society helped Clara realize her dream of writing a book about the history of Globe. Milton Schwartz, a graduate student at the University of Arizona, collected and edited Clara’s notes, transcripts, and articles. Schwartz and various members of the Society assembled the book, which was approved by Clara, and her son, John, also a historian. Globe, Arizona: Early times in a Little World of Copper and Cattle was published in 1977.
Clara Woody died on April 5, 1981, at the age of ninety-five.