Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Reuben T. Wood

Since today is Labor Day, it's appropriate, I think, to write about Reuben Terrell Wood, a politician and labor leader from Springfield, Missouri, who was instrumental in improving working conditions for union members and all working people of the state during the first half of the twentieth century.
"Rube" Wood was born on a farm near Springfield in 1884. As a young man he apprenticed as a cigar maker, joined the union, and in 1901 showed up as a delegate to the Springfield Central Labor Council. In 1912, he was elected president of the Missouri Federation of Labor (now the Missouri State Labor Council) and served in that capacity until 1932, when he was elected as a representative from southwest Missouri in the U.S. Congress. After eight years in Congress, he returned to his position of president of the Missouri Federation of Labor and continued in that capacity until his retirement in 1953. He served a total of about 32 years as president of the state labor group. One of his main achievements was passage of a workman's compensation law in Missouri. Enabling workers to be compensated for injuries suffered on the job, it is a law, of course, that we now take for granted.
Wood died in 1955 and is buried at Greenlawn Cemetery in Springfield. By the way, he is no relation to me.

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