Nanny Wood: From Washington Belle to Portland's Grande Dame


Nanny Wood (1855-1933) lived at Fort Sumter in 1861 with her uncle, a federal officer, departing just days before the shelling that began the Civil War. She returned to her native Baltimore, then rejoined her uncle and experienced combat in North Carolina. When her widowed mother married the distinguished physician to two Presidents, the vivacious Nanny became one of the most desirable belles in Washington, D.C. She married West Point graduate and Indian fighter C. E. S. Wood and accompanied him to the Pacific Northwest. On her honeymoon, she witnessed a lynching and survived a horrific train crash. As the grande dame of Portland, Oregon, she entertained Mark Twain and the Impressionist artist Childe Hassam as well as other writers, painters, and sculptors. Later, she stoically endured her husband's affairs with a succession of mistresses. Through her love of flowers, she fostered civic pride and beautified the Rose City. From interviews with descendants and archival documents at the Johns Hopkins University, the Huntington Library, the Portland Museum of Art, and the Oregon Historical Center, Philip Leon recounts the life of a remarkable woman in a fascinating period of history.

Philip W. Leon

(2003), 2007, 5½x8½, paper, index, 280 pp. 

ISBN: 9780788424403