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Oscar Scott Woody Passes Away

Today in Masonic History Oscar Scott Woody passes away in 1912.

Oscar Scott Woody was a United States Postal worker and traveler on the R.M.S. Titanic.

Woody was born on April 15, 1871 in the town of Roxboro, North Carolina, about 30 miles north of Durham. He first appeared on the census in 1880 living with his family in the Holloways Community in Person County, NC.

He went to work for the United States Post Office working on the Railway Post Office (RPO) cars between Greensboro, NC and Washington, DC for about 15 years. By the 1900s, he was listed as a boarder in Washington and was described as "an unmarried postal clerk" in official records. He worked in the office of the Third Division of the Railway Mail Service.

He maintained a residence in Clifton, Virginia. On August 30, 1903, he was raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason in Acacia Lodge #16 in Clifton.

He left Washington around 1909 to join the Maritime Mail Service in New York. In 1910, he married the niece of a Post Office Detective and they spent time when he wasn’t at sea in Clifton where he purchased a house at the corner of Main Street and Clifton Road. The home still stands and has a historical marker in the front yard.

On April 2, 1912, he left New York on the SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse bound for Plymouth, England. He then traveled to Southampton where he boarded the R.M.S. (Royal Mail Ship) Titanic.

On the night of April 14, Woody and four other Postal Clerks (2 British and 2 American) were celebrating Woody’s 40th birthday in a private dining room. At approximately 11:40 p.m., the Titanic struck an iceberg. Woody and the other Postal Clerks ran to the ship’s Post Office and began hauling the 200 sacks of registered mail up the stairs (the Post Office was near the bow and was one of the first areas to start flooding).

According to Fourth Officer Boxhall, the Postal Clerks managed to get all 200 sacks of registered mail up to the Boat Deck. The last Boxhall saw of them, they were on deck with the mail, calmly awaiting the death they knew was coming.

Woody’s body was recovered a week after the sinking by the cable ship Mackay-Bennet. His body was identified by two Masonic dues cards, his Masonic cuff links, two fountain pens, a pocket knife, a letter to his wife, his pocket watch, and the letter assigning him to the Titanic. His possessions were returned to his widow but his body was buried at sea.

Woody was ultimately honored when President George W. Bush signed a bill naming the Roxboro, NC Post Office in honor of Oscar Scott Woody, and is the only Post Office named for a Post Office employee.

This article is provided by Worshipful Brother E. Gordon Mooneyhan, a Past Master of Seaside Lodge #419 in Myrtle Beach, SC. He has written three railroad dining car cookbooks and is currently working on a book about the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic. His research led him to the story of Bro. Woody’s life and untimely death, and although it doesn’t fit with the book he’s working on, he feels the story of Bro. Woody is too important not to tell.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.