Dr. Alden J. Woodruff was born January 20, 1850, at Fire Place, in Brook Haven Town. He is the son of Jehiel H. Woodruff, whose ancestry in 1780 removed to Fire Place from Bridgehampton. Dr. Woodruff’s mother was Miss Sarah A. Davis, of Middle Island. She was the daughter of George Davis, who was a well known school teacher of Suffolk County in his day. A singular coincidence is that he taught school in Bayport sixty years before his grandson, the subject of this sketch, did.
Some of the ancestors of Dr. Woodruff were Revolutionary soldiers, several of them being in the Continental army; one, a lieutenant, was a prisoner of war for a time on the prison ship “Jersey.” Not a little of the “spirit of ’76” seems to have descended to him, he being a sturdy and outspoken opponent of injustice of any kind.
Dr. Woodruff’s early education was acquired in the public schools of Fire Place and Bellport; after he was twelve or fourteen years of age he spent his winters in school and his summers working on his father’s farm or at sea on coasting vessels, but wherever he was he kept his books with him and worked at them at all possible intervals, being bound to have an education at all costs. When twenty years of age he began teaching school and continued at that business for thirteen years, during which time he was one of the leading teachers of Suffolk County. An incident, at this time, in the life of Dr. Woodruff, shows his determination to overcome difficulties and get
ahead. When the term of his first school was about to close the trustees of a neighboring school whose teacher had resigned, applied to him to come and teach their school, which was much larger and farther advanced than the one he was teaching. He accepted the position on a Friday, made up a day on Saturday that he had lost during the term, and reported for duty at the new position on Monday ready to commence business. He found in this school several branches that he had never yet studied, but, nothing daunted, he “gave the youngsters a review,” studied the lessons ahead of the classes at night, often getting but a few hours of sleep, and mastered the contents of the text books far ahead of his pupils. This hard work was followed by an attack of typhoid fever, which came near ending his earthly life, but he succeeded in giving good satisfaction to his people, for he taught that school for three years afterwards.
We find in the “Phrenological Character” of Dr. Woodruff, written by the eminent phrenologist, Nelson Sizer, in 1871, the following: “You are able to become what is called a self-made man. Hills and storms do not appall you. You can face an angry east hail storm; you can worry your way through all obstacles, not from choice, but when honesty demands energy and perseverance, you are not the first to flinch.”
Dr. Woodruff was married in 1873 to Miss Sarah E. Beale, of Bellport, who passed to the other life four years later, preceded by her only child, which spent less than two years of its life on earth. He was again married in 1879 to Miss Laura Grace Raynor, of West Hampton, who is the mother of one child, which passed to the other life in infancy.
Having for some time intended to make medicine his profession, Dr. Woodruff in 1882 entered the New York Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital, from which he graduated in 1885 with honors, being one of five out of a class of forty students who attained an average of ninety-five per cent in the examinations. The fact that he had been able to extract, without assistance, his literary education from books, and had taught others so long, made it an easy task for him, while in college, to grasp the salient points of the medical lectures, and keep pace with the foremost of his class. He first located for the practice of medicine in Riverhead, Suffolk County, but an event that occurred in the family of his sister caused him to remove in a short time to Patchogue, where he remained until 1888, when he located in Babylon. Here he has been very successful, having a large general practice among the very best people of the town, and making a specialty of the diseases of women and children, being frequently called as consulting physician to cases in other towns.
Dr. Woodruff is a member of the New York State Homeopathic Medical Society, medical examiner for several insurance companies and for the Royal Arcanum, of which order he has been a member almost since its organization. He joined the Masonic fraternity when twenty-one years old; but the thing he takes the most pleasure and delight in outside of medicine is the public school; this he believes to be the institution of all institutions for the continuance of a free country, and the one proper place in which to educate American children. He is a member of the Board at Education of Babylon Union School, and takes an active interest in educational affairs of the community, and is a prime mover in all things tending toward the development of the place and the interests of the people.
In politics Dr. Woodruff is independent. He believes a public officer should consider himself simply a public servant, and votes for the man who would seem most likely to consider himself as such if elected; waiting with patience for the organization of a political party that shall have for its principles something else than spoils; believing in “a government of the people, for the people and by the people.”
Religiously Dr. Woodruff is a firm believer in the doctrines of the New Church, holding with the teachings of the Swedish Seer, that “all religion relates to life, and the life of true religion is to do good.”