Granville Woods
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Granville Tailer Woods (1856 - 1910)

Granville Tailer Woods
Born in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio, United Statesmap
[spouse(s) unknown]
Died at age 53 in Manhattan, New York County, New York, United Statesmap
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Granville Tailer Woods was an American inventor who held more than fifty patents.[1]

Granville T. Woods was born free in Columbus, Ohio, on 23 April 1856. He was the son of Tennessee born Cyrus Tailer Woods and Virgina born Martha Brown.

In the 1860 census Granville (age 10) was in Martinsburg, Knox, Ohio, living with his parents and several inferred siblings.[2]In 1870 Granville was recorded living in Columbus, Ohio with his widowed mother, Martha, listed as a washer woman, and two inferred siblings. Granville's occupation was listed as Church Sexton. [3]

In 1872, he went west and obtained work as a fireman and later as an engineer on an Iron Mountain Railroad in Missouri. In his spare time he studied electricity. In December 1874 he moved to Springfield, Illinois, where he worked in a rolling mill, until early 1876, when he went east to begin two years of college study in mechanical and electrical engineering, while also working in a machine shop. Beginning in 1878 he spent two years at sea as an engineer on a British steamship. During 1880 he handled a locomotive on the D & S Railroad. [4]

In the 1880s he established a factory in Cincinnati, Ohio, for the manufacture of telephone, telegraph, and electrical instruments.[4]

One of his most significant inventions was a system intended for the engineer of a train to know how close he was to other trains. This prevented accidents and collisions between trains. He also invented the induction telegraph system, it allowed messages to be sent to and from trains, which also help prevent collision.

He and his brother organized Woods Electrical Company. The company prospered, as he was successful in selling his invention to some of the country's largest corporations. There were problems with train telegraphic equipment, but he later invented a train telegraph that did not depend on contact between the moving train and the conducting wire.

In June of 1880 a marriage license was issued to Granville and Sadie Turner in Cincinnati.[5] In 1887 Granville married Ada under assumed names of G. Taylor Silvey and Edith Albus White. [6] They divorced that same year. By 1900 he was listed as an electrical engineer, single, and living in Manhattan, New York.[7]

He died in 1910[8] and is buried in Saint Michael's Cemetery in East Elmhurst, New York.[9]

Research Notes

  • According to a newspaper article from 1892, his parents were free Black people of Australia and moved to the United States while he was still a young child. (There seems to be little evidence of this.)[10] He attended school until age ten, when he was placed in a machine shop to be trained as a machinist and blacksmith. Meanwhile, he continued his education by attending night school.[4]


  2. 1860 Census: "1860 United States Federal Census"
    The National Archives in Washington D.C.; Record Group: Records of the Bureau of the Census; Record Group Number: 29; Series Number: M653; Residence Date: 1860; Home in 1860: Martinsburg, Knox, Ohio; Roll: M653_995; Page: 201; Family History Library Film: 803995
    Ancestry Sharing Link - Ancestry Record 7667 #43175886 (accessed 5 April 2024)
    Granville Woods (10) in Martinsburg, Knox, Ohio. Born in Ohio.
  3. 1870 Census: "United States Census, 1870", database with images
    citing Page: 29; Affiliate Name: The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Affiliate Publication Number: M593; Line: 14; Digital film/folder number: 004277793; FHL microfilm: 000552700; Image number: 628; Packet letter: A; Indexing batch: N01610-4
    FamilySearch Record: M623-HMM (accessed 1 April 2024)
    FamilySearch Image: S3HT-6QNQ-727
    Granville Woode (19) in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio, United States. Born in Ohio.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Simmons, William J., and Henry McNeal Turner. Men of Mark: Eminent, Progressive and Rising. G. M. Rewell & Company, 1887. Pages 107-112.
  5. Marriage: Free view of clipping "U.S.,™ Marriage Index, 1800s-current"
    The Cincinnati Daily Star; Publication Date: 25/ Jun/ 1880; Publication Place: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; URL:,0.10393092,0.96388644,0.20450917&xid=3398
    Ancestry Record 62116 #320412893 (accessed 5 April 2024)
    Granville T Woods marriage to Sadie Turner in about 1880.
  6. Marriage and Divorce to Ada The Cincinnati Post, Cincinnati, Ohio · Wednesday, October 14, 1891,Free view of clipping
  7. 1900 Census: "1900 United States Federal Census"
    Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1102; Page: 9; Enumeration District: 0449
    Ancestry Sharing Link - Ancestry Record 7602 #92722323 (accessed 20 April 2024)
    Granville P Woods (37), single, Electrician, head of household in Manhattan, New York, New York. Born in Australia.
  8. "New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948"
    Ancestry Record 9131 #1428015 (accessed 18 April 2022)
    Granville T Woods death 30 Jan 1910 (age 54) in Manhattan, New York, USA.
  9. Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 26 July 2018), memorial page for Granville T. Woods (23 Apr 1856–30 Jan 1910), Find A Grave: Memorial #6815463, citing Saint Michael's Cemetery, East Elmhurst, Queens County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .
  10., database with images, "Inventive Negroes," The Lima Daily Times, (Lima, Ohio), 14 Mar 1892, p. 6, col. 1, accessed 1 Apr 2022, news clipping.

See also:

  • Wikidata: Item Q3115447 help.gif
  • "United States City and Business Directories, ca. 1749 - ca. 1990", database, FamilySearch ( : 15 February 2022), Granville Woods, 1874.
  • "List of Patents," The Boston Daily Globe 11 Apr 1885: 3. Print. Clipping.
  • Fouche, Ravon. "Black inventors in the age of segregation: Granville T. Woods," Lewis H. Latimer, and Shelby J. Davison. 1. Baltimore, Maryland: The John Hopkins University Press, 2003. Print.
  • Bellis, Mary. "Granville T Woods 1856-1910: Biography of a Black Edison," n. pag. Web. 28 Oct 2009. archived web link
  • "The Brooklyn Historic Railway Association." Granville T. Woods. Web. 28 Oct 2009. Archived web link.
  • Hayden, Robert. 9 African American Inventors. 1. New York: A division of Henry Holt, 1970. Print.
  • "Granville T. Woods" Wayback Machine archived link

Memories: 2
Enter a personal reminiscence or story.
"-He invented an electric rail system that provided electricity to power a railroad. He made numerous improvements to it throughout his career. The process is widely used in subways.4"
  • he ended a racial stereotype for african americans
posted 30 Oct 2009 by alexis whitfield
"I believe I can do anything if i just try"
posted 29 Oct 2009 by alexis whitfield
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Comments: 1

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1.Bellis, Mary. "Granville T Woods 1856-1910." Biography of a Black Edison n. pag. Web. 28 Oct 2009. <>

2.N/A, N/A. "The Brooklyn Historic Railway Association." Granville T. Woods. Web. 28 Oct 2009. <>.

3.Hayden, Robert. 9 African American Inventors. 1. New York: A division os Henry Holt, 1970. Print.

4.Fouche, Ravon. Black inventors in the age of segregation: Granville T. Woods, Lewis H. Latimer, and Shelby J. Davison. 1. Baltimore, Maryland: The John Hopkins University Press, 2003. Print.


posted by alexis whitfield

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