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Chapter 2: Origins - Dane Starbuck, The Goodriches: An American Family 
The Goodriches: An American Family (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001).
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We arrived at our Present place of abode on White River, Randolph County, Ind., . . . after a long and Tedious journey. We arrived here without any Lives lost or Limbs broke, and that is all we can say. If I was to tell you of the many Difficulties we have encountered in moving here, extreme bad weather, dangerous Roads in consequence of Ice, you would hardly believe me, and, therefore, I shall say nothing about it. We are all in good health and spirits at Present, and we are well Pleased with the country as far as we have yet seen. . . .
edmund b. goodrich, grandfather of James P. Goodrich, letter, 1832*
James putnam goodrich was born on February 18, 1864, in Winchester, Indiana, toward the end of arguably the most significant event in American history: the Civil War. His middle name was taken from the name of his maternal grandmother, Jane Gray Putnam Edger, a common practice at the time. James’s delivery into the world occurred just two weeks before President Abraham Lincoln appointed a little-known general and former tanner, Ulysses S. Grant, commander in chief of the Union forces. The future Indiana governor was preceded by two older brothers: Ernest, who died shortly after birth in 1860; and Percy Edgar “P. E.,” who was born in 1861. Three younger Goodrich brothers followed: John Baldwin (1866), Edward Shields (1868), and William Wallace (1871).
The origins of the Goodrich family are worth noting. More than one hundred years earlier, in the mid 1700s, three Goodrich brothers crossed the Atlantic Ocean from England to the United States. The three men were descendants of an aristocratic clan that had sided with the Royalists and King Charles, fighting Oliver Cromwell at Goodrich Castle on the River Tyne in the mid 1600s. Ruins of Goodrich Castle exist even to this day.1 Regarding the origin of their family name, Calvin and Percy Goodrich wrote: “The meaning usually given to Goodrich is ‘rich in Godliness.’ Yet an early definition of ‘good’ was ‘gather.’ That which was gathered was ‘goods.’ So a Goodrich of the Saxon day in England may have been a notable accumulator of personal possessions rather than a man distinguished for sanctity and good works.”2 The possible dual origin of the name seems appropriate for a family who would build a financial dynasty in the midst of post-Reformation religious values.
The three Goodrich brothers arrived in Massachusetts, but one, Edmund B. Goodrich, eventually settled in Petersburg, Virginia. The sequence of generations from there is complicated because of the number of children who are named for a father or mother.
Edmund B. Goodrich had eight children, including a son, John Baldwin Goodrich. John Baldwin Goodrich, born in 1783, became a teacher, lawyer, and land conveyor. He practiced law with Baldwin Pearse, soon to be his father-in-law, beginning in approximately 1800. John B. Goodrich later became president of the Blacksburg Virginia Academy. Today, the successor of that institution is known as Virginia Polytechnic Institution (VPI). In 1802, Goodrich married Rebecca Pearse of Ambrose County, Virginia, the daughter of Baldwin Pearse. Rebecca was just thirteen when the couple married. Between 1803 and 1828, they had fourteen children, including Edmund Baldwin, who was born about 1805 and was named for his paternal grandfather.
John Baldwin Goodrich died from a fall from a horse in September 1828. His death left Rebecca, at age thirty-nine, a widow with fourteen children. The sale of John Baldwin’s assets occurred in February 1829. After his debts were paid off, Rebecca was left with only two hundred dollars. Two and a half years later, Rebecca decided to leave Blacksburg to join other family members near Fort Wayne, Indiana. Therefore, in December 1831, the Goodriches sold their one slave and packed up all the personal possessions they could load onto two horse-drawn wagons. Led by Rebecca, a willowy woman who never weighed more than ninety pounds, the Goodriches left Blacksburg and headed northwest by foot, destined for northeastern Indiana, a distance of almost four hundred miles. One of the grandchildren in the Goodrich clan was a three-month-old baby, John B. Goodrich, who would become James Goodrich’s father.3
The Goodriches had crossed the western tip of West Virginia, the frozen Ohio River, and much of southern Ohio before they entered eastern Indiana in January 1832. The “roads” were little more than muddy Indian trails and animal paths. As one Hoosier “poet” wrote about the poor traveling conditions in a local tavern registry:
It was not a road, however, but a river that kept the Goodrich family in east-central Indiana. They were traveling northwest of Winchester, Indiana, on their way to Fort Wayne, when one of their wagons broke down as they attempted to ford the White River. Winchester served as the county seat of Randolph County, which, until 1823, stretched clear to the Michigan state line, some 120 miles northward. It was on the outskirts of Winchester that the family chose to settle, some seventy miles south of Fort Wayne. According to legend, when the broken wagon impeded the Goodriches’ journey north, the diminutive matriarch, Rebecca Goodrich, exclaimed to her family that she had had enough of the arduous journey and they would go no farther, “one swamp being as good as another.”5
The Goodrich family settled in Randolph County only sixteen years after Indiana had become a state. Thickly wooded and sparsely populated, the county had been occupied by Miami and Delaware Indians until the 1840s. In 1846, the federal government marched the tribes’ remaining members to Toledo, Ohio, to begin what was known as the Trail of Tears. They were subsequently loaded on rafts and floated down the canal system to Cincinnati, Ohio, and from there to St. Louis, Missouri, on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Many died along the way. Eventually, the Miamis were transported to Kansas and, later, to Oklahoma, where they ended up on reservations.6
In the early 1800s, the Goodriches were one of several hundred pioneer families that had come to eastern Indiana from the Carolinas and Virginia. Winchester was a deeply religious community. In February 1832, it was the site of the largest branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Indiana. The founder of the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith, visited the Winchester branch of more than one hundred believers in July 1834. He performed several baptisms of converts in the Mississinewa River, north of Winchester. When several members of the Mormon congregation left for Missouri in the spring of 1832, the Goodrich family bought land northeast of Winchester from a departing Mormon farmer.7
One of the first written references to a Goodrich family member is contained in a history of Jay County, just north of Randolph County. The reference reads: “In 1834, the families scattered over the south part of the county began to think their settlement of sufficient importance to be under the restraint of law. Prior to this they had enjoyed unlimited freedom. When Mr. Goodrich, Collector of Randolph County, came to collect taxes, every man positively refused to pay. The collector laughed, said that any one who dared come out there to open a forest, ought not to pay tax, and returned.”8
Edmund B. Goodrich, who was James Goodrich’s grandfather, may well have been the tax collector referred to. He also studied law and served as judge of the Randolph County Probate Court. He is described by an early Randolph County history as “a strong temperance man, and a leading member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.”9 His son, John Baldwin Goodrich, who was just three months old when the Goodriches left Virginia for Indiana, also grew up to become a lawyer in Randolph County. In the 1850s, John Goodrich practiced law with his uncle, Carey Goodrich, and with Enos L. Watson. Enos Watson would become the father of James E. Watson, future United States Senate majority leader and lifelong friend of James P. Goodrich.
In addition to practicing law, John B. Goodrich became politically active, serving as county Republican chairman and road commissioner. He was elected Randolph County clerk in 1861 and was reelected in 1865. In 1859, John B. Goodrich married Elizabeth Edger, who had grown up in nearby Deerfield, Indiana. They had both attended the Winchester Seminary in the 1850s. At that time, public schools for general education had not yet been established; in many communities, seminaries provided both basic secular and religious education. Before her marriage, Elizabeth Edger had also attended Liber College in Portland, Indiana, a small academy begun in 1853 by a zealous Presbyterian minister.10 She was a redheaded beauty whose Protestant father, Edward Edger, was born in county Derry, Ireland, before his family immigrated to the United States in 1807.11 Edger had married Jane Putnam in November 1833, and they had two sons and five daughters, including Elizabeth.12
James Goodrich’s maternal grandfather, Edward Edger, lived a remarkable pioneer life. In the 1820s, prior to locating in Indiana, he piloted steamboats down the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. In the 1830s, he drove hogs from Indiana to the Carolinas. And for many years he traded with local Indians in northern Randolph County, floating the goods he traded for down the Indiana river system by raft to the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and eventually to St. Louis. There he would sell the goods, pocket the gold payment, and walk hundreds of miles back to his home in Randolph County. Edward Edger also became a small-time banker. He even dabbled in politics, serving one term in the Indiana General Assembly (1843–45). In 1860, he started a grain operation on the very spot on which his grandsons would establish in 1898 the Goodrich Brothers Grain and Hay Company. His wife, Jane Putnam Edger, was a devoted member of the Presbyterian Church.13
James Goodrich’s father, John B. Goodrich, was a deeply religious Congregationalist who was the superintendent of his local church’s Sunday school. He was also the father of five surviving sons. In 1938, James Goodrich wrote about his father in his unpublished autobiography: “Often men would come to me in the early years of my life and say to me, ‘if you are half as good a man as your father was, you will be all right.’”14 Thus, the seeds of political involvement and religious heritage were planted early in the Goodrich family history. The significance of this religious heritage may be illustrated by a vignette. When James Goodrich was campaigning for governor in 1916, a local man by the name of John Callahan came to him and said that he owed his life to Goodrich’s father. Callahan told James Goodrich,
I met your father in the woods on the Goodrich farm, Northeast of Winchester, one Sunday afternoon, and he spoke to me about my excessive drinking. I told your Father I had tried very hard to quit but it seemed I was unable to do so. I have time and again resolved never to touch it again only to yield when liquor was available. Your father said to me, “The trouble with you, John, is you are depending upon your own strength. If you will ask the help of God you will be able to overcome your habit,” and he then asked me to get down on my knees with him in the woods and ask God’s help. Your father put his arm around me and asked God to help and strengthen me, and from that day to this I have never touched liquor in any form.15
Toward the end of 1871, John B. Goodrich became ill with tuberculosis. He finally left his family in October 1872 to travel south in the hope of regaining his health, but he died in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 2. John B. Goodrich, deceased at forty-one, left his widow, Elizabeth, thirty-two, with five sons: Percy Edgar, eleven; James Putnam, eight; John Baldwin, six; Edward Shields, four; and William Wallace, sixteen months.16
The Goodrich family owned approximately five hundred acres of Randolph County farm ground at the time of John Goodrich’s death. Nonetheless, the Goodriches were far from being a wealthy family. It was through the strength of Elizabeth Edger Goodrich, who never remarried but raised five rambunctious and strong-willed sons by herself, that the family slowly gained wealth and influence in Indiana. The Goodrich brothers were known throughout their lives as tough business competitors. They worked in concert for their mutual benefit. This sense of familial protection, of looking out for each other, had been instilled in the brothers from their childhood. James Goodrich recounts the stability his mother brought to these five fatherless boys:
My mother was a woman of wonderful character, great common sense, and with faith as firm as my father’s. . . . Her life was devoted entirely to her children. Her sons were not all alike. She was continually looking out for those of us who needed assistance. Above all else she urged us to stand together. I remember one circumstance when she had the five boys around her and handed to us a bundle of five sticks, bound tightly together, and asked us to break the bundle. This we had not strength enough to do. She untied the bundle and handed us the separate sticks and we had no difficulty in breaking them one by one. She used this as an illustration emphasizing the importance of standing by each other and said to us, “As long as you boys do so no one can harm you; should you become divided failure will be your lot.”17
All the Goodrich brothers enjoyed successful business careers, but none of them had the financial acumen or ambition that James possessed. Even as a small boy, James Goodrich had learned to turn a profit through painstaking physical labor. He worked long, hard hours on the family’s farms in the 1870s and 1880s: He planted and harvested crops, ditched fields, sawed and piled wood for neighbors for fifty cents a cord, ran a threshing machine, and baled hay.18 Life on a farm in post–Civil War times was difficult, requiring unusual ingenuity and frugality. James Goodrich recalled:
Money was scarce and hard to get. We produced everything we possibly could. We ran our lye and made our own soap. We planted a bit of sugar cane and made our own sorghum. We also planted a little patch of broom corn and made our own broom. We tapped the trees in what we then called the “sugar camp,” on which is now located the Goodrich Experimental Farm, and made our own syrup and sugar. We molded our own candles using tallow from the sheep we killed, hardened with bees wax, which came from the hives of bees we always kept.19
Life was not all hard work and drudgery, however. In the Goodrich brothers’ free time, they managed to entertain themselves by playing cards and marbles, attending local dances, and attempting to play musical instruments. In July 1876, when James Goodrich was just twelve years old, he and his older brother Percy, who was just fourteen, traveled alone to Philadelphia to attend the country’s Centennial Exposition. They stayed for ten days, visited Liberty Hall and the Liberty Bell, and saw what was then considered a bawdy performance by a woman who appeared on stage “clad [only] in tights from head to foot.”20 Roughhousing was not uncommon for the boys either. James Goodrich recalled:
Winchester was then divided into two sections by what is now the Big Four Railroad—that part along the north side of the road was called “Goose Pasture” and south of the road was called “Dog Town,” and rivalry between the two sections very great. In Goose Pasture there was a lot of Irish, Fitzgeralds, Lavins, Currans, Radys, Ryans, and I was one-quarter Irish myself—we could usually lick the fellows on the south side and did so when the provocation seemed to justify a resort to physical force.21
James Goodrich’s boyhood seems to have been marked by hard work, study, and a desire to get ahead. In only a few years, he would be exposed to the most important activities of his successful life: business and politics.
[* ]Edmund B. Goodrich, James Goodrich’s grandfather, was one of approximately fourteen Goodrich family members who made the harrowing trip from Blacksburg, Virginia, to Randolph County, Indiana, from December 1831 to January 1832. His letter was sent to a relative in Virginia. It is quoted in full in Calvin Goodrich and Percy E. Goodrich, A Great-Grandmother and Her People (Winchester, Ind.: privately printed, 1950), pp. 24–26.
[1. ]James P. Goodrich, “Autobiography,” James P. Goodrich Papers, box 4, pp. 1–2, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, West Branch, Iowa.
[2. ]Calvin Goodrich and Percy E. Goodrich, A Great-Grandmother and Her People (Winchester, Ind.: privately printed, 1950), p. 60.
[3. ]John Baldwin Goodrich was the son of Edmund B. Goodrich and the grandson of John Baldwin and Rebecca Goodrich. See Goodrich and Goodrich, A Great-Grandmother and Her People, pp. 21–23, and Ebenezer Tucker, “The Goodrich Family,” in History of Randolph County, Indiana (Chicago: A. L. Kingman, 1882), p. 313.
[4. ]From the reminiscence of J. H. B. Knowland, cited by George S. Cottman in “Internal Improvement in Indiana,” Indiana Magazine of History 3 (1907): 20.
[5. ]Goodrich, “Autobiography,” pp. 23–24. The Goodrich wagon broke down on what is now the Fidler Farm, last owned by Eugene Fidler.
[6. ]See Stewart Rafert, The Miami Indians of Indiana: A Persistent People, 1654–1994 (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1996), pp. 108–13.
[7. ]Many members of the Mormon faith left Winchester in the fall of 1831 and the spring of 1832 to join fellow believers in Missouri, but some of them remained in Winchester until at least the end of the 1830s before heading west. For a history of the Winchester branch of the Mormon Church, see LaRene Gaunt, “The Pioneer Saints of Winchester, Indiana,” Ensign (of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), October 1992, pp. 56–59; “Blooming Where Planted,” Ensign, July 1993, p. 68; and “Mormons Led by Joseph Smith Through City in May of 1834,” Winchester (Ind.) News-Gazette, September 22, 1984, p. 3, col. 6.
[8. ]M. W. Montgomery, History of Jay County (Chicago: Church, Goodman, and Cushing, 1864), p. 6.
[9. ]Tucker, History of Randolph County, Indiana, p. 313.
[10. ]For a brief history of Liber College, see Michael McBride, “College Long Gone, But History Still Strong,” Muncie (Ind.) Star Press, January 13, 1997, sec. D, p. 1, col. 1. From 1859 to 1868, more than 850 students, mostly from Jay County, attended Liber College.
[11. ]Goodrich, “Autobiography,” pp. 3–8. In his autobiography, James Goodrich repeatedly refers to the strong religious convictions of his parents.
[12. ]“Edward Edger,” in Randolph County History: 1818–1990 (Paducah, Ky.: Turner Publishing, 1991), p. 504.
[13. ]Richard Wise, “Goodrich Grandfather Lived Eventful Life,” Winchester (Ind.) News-Gazette, February 17, 1984, p. 1, col. 2.
[14. ]James Goodrich’s memories of his father were few and vague because of his father’s early death. He does mention in his unfinished autobiography, however, that he was constantly reminded by local citizens of his father’s outstanding character. Goodrich, “Autobiography,” p. 5.
[15. ]Ibid., pp. 5–6.
[16. ]Ibid., pp. 3–5.
[17. ]Ibid., p. 8.
[18. ]Ibid., pp. 14–18.
[19. ]Ibid., p. 11.
[20. ]Ibid., pp. 21–22.
[21. ]Ibid., p. 20.