Bob Woodward Family History


Robert Upshur Woodward was born on March 26th, 1943 to Alfred and Jane Woodward in Geneva, Illinois.  That year his father, a lawyer, had joined the US Navy and spent the war serving in the South Pacific.  He returned home in 1945 to see the son he had not yet seen.

Bob was raised in Wheaton, Illinois and attended the local high school there.  He enrolled at Yale College on a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps scholarship and subsequently undertook a five-year tour of duty with the US Navy.

After being discharged in 1970, Bob considered law school but decided instead to apply for the job of reporter at The Washington Post.  The Post gave him a two-week trial but did not hire him because of his lack of experience.  After a year working at a suburban newspaper, Bob applied again and he was hired as a Post reporter in 1971.

While a reporter with The Washington Post in 1972, Bob teamed up with Carl Bernstein and the two did much of the original news reporting on the Watergate scandal which eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974.

Since that time Bob has been a chronicler of US Presidents for close on fifty years, perhaps culminating with his twentieth book – The Trump Tapes released in 2022 on President Donald Trump.

He has been called the best reporter of his generation.  Robert Gates, a former Secretary of Defense, has said: “He has an extraordinary ability to get otherwise responsible adults to spill their guts to him.  His ability to get people to talk about stuff they shouldn’t be talking about is just extraordinary and may be unique.”

Early Lines

New England.  The first of Bob’s Woodwards in America, as some lines have indicated, may well have been George Woodward from England.  Aged just eighteen (or possibly younger), he had come to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1634 as a “soap boiler.”  George settled in Watertown where he died in 1676.  He was married twice and had many children.

One of his sons John made his home in Newton, Massachusetts; and John’s son Richard, after his marriage, moved around 1710 to Windham, Connecticut.  These Woodwards were still in Windham at the time of the American Revolutionary War.

Pennsylvania.  There was an alternative account for these Woodwards, handed down in family lore, that three brothers bearing the Woodward name made a settlement in Pennsylvania as followers of William Penn in the early 1700’s.

This version subscribes to the view that in the 1790’s Enos Woodward went south from New England to Pennsylvania, to the part of NE Pennsylvania that became Wayne county in 1798.  He settled in an area known for its cherry trees that came to be called Cherry Ridge.

Enos’s son John had initially gone from Connecticut to New Jersey, where he had gotten married, and then onto this new settlement.  His first son Asher was born in Wayne county in 1801.  Asher lived there for most but not all of his life.

Asher and his wife Matilda raised a large family of ten at their home in Cherry Ridge.  One son George left for Chicago in 1858 and was among the first in Illinois to enlist when the Civil War started.  Some daughters married and departed with their husbands, in one case for Nebraska and in another for California.

Asher and some of his remaining family in Wayne county – and this included his sons James, John and Robert – then departed for pastures new in Illinois.

Alfred E. Woodward Sr. – In Sandwich, Illinois

When the Woodwards arrived at Sandwich in DeKalb county, Illinois sometime after the Civil War, it was a small farming community with a population of around 2,500.

The town had, however, one notable feature – the Sandwich Manufacturing Company.  This company had been founded by Augustus Adams back in 1856.  He and his two sons had developed their own brand of spring and cylinder corn shellers, both hand and power operated, and soon branched out into other types of farm equipment.  While not as big as other equipment manufacturers, the Sandwich line of high quality equipment had developed a worldwide reputation by the turn of the century.

Asher Woodward died at Sandwich in 1874 and was the first of the Woodwards to be buried at the Oak Ridge cemetery there.  His wife Matilda and son James followed him to the grave a year later; but a younger son John lived on there until 1917.

John and his wife Eunice had a son named Alfred who was born in Sandwich in 1870.  When Alfred grew to manhood he went to work for the Sandwich Manufacturing Company.  He and his wife Mabel had three sons, born widely apart in time:

  • Malcolm, born in 1895
  • John, born in 1903
  • and Alfred, born in 1913.

The eldest, Malcolm, left the area.  He married in Indiana in 1921 and lived in many different places before retiring in Arizona where he died at the age of eighty-seven.

The second-born, John, became a lawyer.  He had started his own practice with another attorney in Wheaton, DuPage county in 1937.  And his younger brother Alfred, ten years his junior, joined that practice a year later after graduating from Northwestern University.

Alfred E. Woodward Jr. – A Judge as a Father

Alfred, having served his country during World War Two, returned to legal practice at Wheaton in 1946.  Four years later he became a full partner in his brother’s law firm and involved himself in both civil and criminal cases.  He later served as President of the DuPage County Bar Association and in 1967 was elected to the American College of Trial Lawyers.

Alfred was a very good trial lawyer.  An adversary of his remarked:  “He could always get a jury to worry themselves to death about the defendant.  He could handle anything. He knew people. He liked people, and they liked him back. There was no way you could attack him. He could destroy an opponent in a very kind way.”

In 1970 Alfred became a judge on the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Court of Illinois and was its Chief Judge from 1973 to 1975. He left the Eighteenth in 1977 and was appointed to the Second District Appellate Court.  He finally retired from the bench in 1994 at the age of eighty-one.

Over the years his son Bob would pay great attention to his father’s work habits. He recalled that, after the family meal, his father would regularly retire to the family den to complete his day’s work. On occasion, when going into the den to wish his father good night, he would find him asleep. Roused by his son, Alfred would then return to the business at hand.

Alfred probably wished that Bob should follow him as a lawyer.  But he never did.  Alfred died in 2007 at the age of ninety-four, after having been  hospitalized with Alzheimer’s for several years.  He was buried in Wheaton cemetery.

Bob Woodward’s Family Tree

  • John Woodward (1769-1843) from Connecticut m. Sarah Caywood (1775-1852) in New Jersey in 1797
  • – Asher Woodward (1801-1874)
  • – Amzi Woodward (1806-1878) m. Irena Killam
  • – Daniel Woodward (1811-1877) m. Frances Stanton
  • Asher Woodward from Wayne, Pennsylvania m. Matilda Kennedy (1806-1875) in Pennsylvania
  • – Caroline Woodward (1828-1905) m. Charles Dimon
  • – Solon Woodward (1830-1907) m. Elizabeth Atwater
  • – James Woodward (1833-1875) m. Margaret Harrison
  • – John Woodward (1834-1917)
  • – Emeline Woodward (1836-1900) m. Russell Samson
  • – Sarah Jane Preston nee Woodward (1838-1931)
  • – George Woodward (1842-1897) m. Francis Atwater
  • – Robert Woodward (1843-1916) m. Ino Vermilye
  • – Delphine Adams nee Woodward (1846-1914)
  • – Mary Woodward (1848-1913) m. Franklin Munson
  • John Woodward m. Eunice Eno (1839-1928) in Pennsylvania in 1861
  • – Anna Woodward (b. 1863) m. Wilbur Prescott
  • – Alfred E. Woodward (1870-1936). born in Sandwich, Illinois
  • Alfred E. Woodward Sr. m. Mabel Coleman (1873-1953) in Illinois
  • – Malcolm Woodward  (1895-1982) m. Pauline Hunt
  • – John Woodward (1903-1990)
  • – Alfred Woodward (1913-2007)
  • Alfred E. Woodward Jr. m. Jane Upshur (1919-1989) in 1940, divorced in 1955; rem. Alice Ensko nee Keller (1924-1999) in 1957
  • – Robert (Bob) Woodward (b. 1943)
  • – Anne Woodward
  • – David (Dave) Woodward
  • – Wendy Woodward (b. 1958), half-sister
  • Robert (Bob) Woodward m. Kathleen Middlekauff in 1966, divorced in 1969; rem. Frances Kuper in 1974, divorced in 1979; rem. Elsa Walsh (b. 1957) in 1989
  • – Taliesin (Tali) Woodward (b. 1976) with Frances, m. Gabriel Roth
  • – Diana Woodward (b. 1996) with Elsa



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Written by Colin Shelley

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