The late William I. Woodrow, pioneer undertaker of San Jose, was born in Pembroke, Genese County, New York, on July 5,
1835. He was the son of Benjamin and Mary F. (Sprague) Woodrow, the former born in England and the latter a native of New York State. When our subject was a lad of six years his parents removed to Churchville, Monroe County, New York and there they remained four years. In the meantime, in 1844, the mother passed away, then in 1845 the family removed to Spencerport, near Rochester, and here William went to live and work on a farm for Lemuel Brown. The only opportunity the lad had to secure an education was by attending school during the winter months, but by his association with Mr. Brown he acquired habits of industry and attention to business and the duties of life which were such potent factors in his successful business career in later years.

When he was fifteen the family removed to a farm in Lee County, Iowa, and here, though only fifteen, William carried on farm pursuits until 1856.
On December 9, 1856, occurred the first marriage of Mr. Woodrow, which united him with Miss Margaret E. Wilcoxson, a daughter of one of the oldest and most respected families of Clay Grove, Iowa. After his marriage Mr. Woodrow farmed for himself until 1862, when he decided to come to California. He started with his wife and two children, across the plains in ox wagons, and after a journey of four months he arrived at the end of his journey. He engaged in mining and dealing in mining properties in California and Nevada for four years and then he came to Santa Clara County and here engaged in ranching near Berryessa for a time. However, this did not prove to his liking and in 1871 he bought an interest in an undertaking business that had been under the management of Marcus Trueman, and as Trueman and Woodrow the business was carried on successfully for several years, when Mr. Woodrow became sole owner.

Mrs. Woodrow passed away on January 2, 1882, having borne her husband five children, four of whom are now living; Jane L., Mary F., Charles W., George, and Grace E. The second marriage of Mr. Woodrow occurred in 1883, when Miss Emma H. Kellner became his wife. She is a native daughter, born in San Francisco, the daughter of the late Rev. Augustus Kellner, who was sent to California by the Rock River Conference from Chicago to establish the German Methodist  Episcopal denomination in this state. He built churches in Stockton, Sacramento, Marysville, San Francisco, and elsewhere. The church in San Francisco he established in the early 50's and of it he was the beloved pastor until his death in the early '60's. One daughter, Hazel Augusta, was born to Mr. and Mrs. Woodrow, but she died in infancy.

Mr. Woodrow was prominent in fraternal circles and was a member of the Masons, the Odd Fellows and other orders. He served as president of the State Funeral Directors Association and was an active worker in the Methodist Episcopal Church for over forty years, serving as one of the stewards and as treasurer. He died on October 10, 1911, mourned by a wide circle of friends as a man who was ever willing to lend a helping hand to those in distress and to aid every cause that had for its object the upbuilding of Santa Clara County and the state.

Transcribed by Marie Clayton, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,  published by Historic Record Co. , 1922, page 457.