Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Benjamin Woodward---Money Maker--Counterfeiter

While researching the Cook line I came across the story of Benjamin Woodward a money maker-- but not the legal way.  He was a counterfeiter.  I developed a timeline of events using the articles that I was able to find at the site.   The Cookes named in the first incident are likely cousins of mine.   Our Y DNA links to Shem Cooke(who married Ann Rucker) out of Virginia and Granville Co. North Carolina.  I can't positively identify them as there are many who carry the same name in the Cooke family and who live in the same area but given the Rucker name is also mentioned I'd consider it highly likely that there is a connection. Keep in mind while you read this that the punishment for counterfeiting was death.  This could be a movie plot.

1773 25 Feb (Thur) --- The Virginia Gazette(Williamsburg, VA) Page 3
Capt. John Lightfoot returns from a trip to Pittsylvania on order of Gov. to apprehend and bring Benjamin Cooke, Joseph Cooke, James Cooke, Benjamin Woodward and Peter Medley in for questioning.  John Short, a former under Sheriff had reason to believe they were involved in counterfeiting and passing counterfeit notes.  At the time they were taken in, they had been at their shop where tools used in the producing counterfeit notes and coins were found.  All subjects with the exception of James Cooke(he did not appear to have done anything criminal) were taken on to jail and will go to York for further examination next Tuesday.  Several others also committed to jail on suspicion of being involved with the counterfeiting.  Gideon Rucker and Shem Cooke of Pittsylvania and John Hightower and William Hightower of Lunenburg have fled and the Governor is offering a reward.

1773 22 Apr (Thu)---The Virginia Gazette  (Williamsburg, Virginia) Page 3
Benjamin Cook, Benjamin Woodward, Joseph Cook, and Peter Medley, from Pittsylvania, for counterfeiting Gold and Silver Coins, and passing Counterfeit Treasury Notes:  Acquitted.  "The Testimony of John Short, the principal evidence against the prisoners, was invalidated by sundry evidences in their behalf, who proved him a most atrocious Villain;  and their counsel even made a motion in court to have him indicted for perjury.   He is since gone off; and has left behind him in this city, a wife and six helpless children in most pitiful circumstances."

1775 14 Sep (Thu) ---Rind's Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg, VA)  Page 3
Benjamin Woodward publishes denial of claims that he is involved in counterfeiting.

1776  19 Jul  (Fri) --- Purdie's Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg, VA) Page 2
Benjamin Woodward brought to town with 4 other suspected accomplices.

1776  30 Aug  (Fri) Purdie's Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg, Virginia) Page 3

1790 18 Jun (Fri)---The State Gazette of North-Carolina (New Bern, NC) Page 3
Terrance Thynne is brought in on charges of passing counterfeit bills.  He claims no knowledge that the bills not being authentic.  He obtained them from Benjamin Woodward.  Thynne's witness is also found to have been guilty of passing counterfeit.  James Arthur is also brought in and more information on Benjamin Woodward's operation is obtained.

1792 25 Jul (Wed)---The Pennsylvania Gazette(Philadelphia, PA) pg 3

Statement from Baltimore on July 18th. Beware of counterfeits of Virginia Military Certificates. believed to be passed by the brother of Benjamin Woodward of Dinwiddie Co. near Petersburgh, Virginia. While it doesn't give the first name of Woodward's brother it is likely the Jesse Woodward mentioned in the previous article. Description about 5' 7" or 8" well set, about 40 years old with short black hair, little grey ruddy complexion, dark eyes, with a small piece of his nose bit off(near upper part of right nostril) Last seen wearing black hat and cloth coat, nankeen waistcoat and breeches.

The following article from The Progress-Index(Petersburg, VA) tells a little more about Benjamin Woodward. The Dinwiddie Counterfeiter article by Tamara Eastman

Google Books also have a few that mention counterfeiter, Benjamin Woodward. I'm sure there was a lot more to the story.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:15 PM

    Great true story, fascinating. I did hear "shake your moneymaker" playing as the soundtrack :) - Nick