Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter 5: The Early Years, 1894–1900 - The Goodriches: An American Family
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Chapter 5: The Early Years, 1894–1900 - Dane Starbuck, The Goodriches: An American Family 
The Goodriches: An American Family (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001).
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The Early Years, 1894–1900
July 30, 1901
I got your letter. I have been looking after the cellar and it is all right and the water did not get into it. Muggins came over to the house this morning and I gave her some milk and a piece of meat. She was glad to get it and hunted around as if she were hunting for a little boy about the size of Pierre.
I want you to be sure and write to Uncle Percy for he wants to get a letter from you. Keep out as much as you can and play and have a good time. Good bye, dear and write to papa, he is always glad to hear from you and Mamma.
Papa (letter from James Goodrich to Pierre, in Colorado Springs)
James and Cora Goodrich had been married for five years when they expected the birth of their first child. Their anticipation was, however, met with deep sadness. On May 16, 1893, the baby (a girl to whom the couple had already given the name Jean) was born dead. Less than sixteen months later, however, on September 10, 1894, a much happier event occurred when the Goodriches’ son Pierre was born at their East Franklin Street home in Winchester.
On the local scene in Winchester, Pierre’s birth coincided with the “Colossal” Lemen Brothers’ traveling circus. The circus featured Rajah, claimed to be the biggest “brute” (elephant) on earth (circuses, then, as today, were known to do a bit of puffing).1 On the national front, 1894 marked the year that President Grover Cleveland first gave civil servants Christmas Day off. It was also a time when a man was not a substantial member of society unless he wore a mustache. While upcoming years would justify the decade’s being remembered as the “gay nineties,” in September 1894 there was little to be happy about. The country was plunged into one of the worst depressions in its history.2
The causes of the disastrous economic times were many and complicated: The 1880s had been a boom period in which overexpansion and overinvestment in railroads and industry had occurred. Moreover, farmers were suffering greatly because of extremely depressed farm prices and decreased demand from Europe for their produce. Inflation had increased substantially as a result of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, legislation that required the federal government to buy increased amounts of silver.3 President Cleveland was confronted with a failed economy and a disenchanted electorate. Within a six-month period, 156 railroads went into receivership, 400 banks suspended operations, and more than 8,000 businesses went bankrupt. As many as one million workers found themselves thrown out of jobs.4
Except for signs of modern culture at its edges (a strip of highway on the east end of town, complete with McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Wal-Mart, and Taco Bell), the appearance of Winchester, Indiana, today differs little from what it was at the turn of the century. Its streets are lined with stately sycamores, elms, and hard maples. The town serves as the county seat of a rural community area. A community of approximately five thousand residents, Winchester is much like those small towns nostalgically described by the Indiana poet James Whitcomb Riley. In fact, three of Riley’s grandparents are buried in area cemeteries, and his parents were reared and later married in Randolph County.5 Riley himself worked in the county as a sign painter and printer for a year in the 1870s. In later life, he occasionally returned to Winchester to deliver his homespun verse. He also occasionally played in a medicine show on the town square. Riley would sing comic songs and draw pictures to entertain the crowds while his companion, a Dr. Sears, lectured and tried to sell a medicinal elixir that was commonly sold during those times to treat all kinds of ailments.6
At the turn of the century, Winchester still had a large number of Quakers as well as several hundred Civil War veterans. Randolph County sent nearly twenty-four hundred men to fight for the Northern cause, including fifty black soldiers. Despite the strong pacifist sentiments of the Quaker population, most of the county’s Quakers supported the war because of their even stronger abolitionist beliefs.7 For runaway slaves, Winchester was a stop along a major route leading from the deep South to Canada. Levi Coffin, chief engineer of this fabled Underground Railroad, lived just four miles south of Randolph County in Newport (now Fountain City), Indiana. He helped provide safe passage for more than three thousand black fugitives.8 Randolph County was also home to the Union Literary Institute, which was founded in 1845 to educate black children as well as students of other races. The importance of the Civil War to local people is still evident today: the tallest county Civil War monument in the state of Indiana, dedicated in July 1892, is located on the town’s square.9
Even as a small boy, Pierre Goodrich always preferred to be called “Peer” rather than the French pronunciation of his name.10 He was born with a very weak right eye and wore glasses from a young age. The late Helen Engle Hart, who was 101 at the time she was interviewed, described the Winchester of the 1890s and early 1900s as an idyllic small town in which to grow up. She remembered Pierre as a shy, quiet, and studious boy. She further recalled that as children they used to visit each other’s homes, attend each other’s birthday parties, and exchange gifts. Their families also attended the same Presbyterian Church. Pierre and Mrs. Hart’s younger brother, Russell Engle, were childhood friends and remained close throughout their lives.11
In 1894, Emily Isabelle “Belle” Edger, James Goodrich’s aunt, returned to Winchester after having worked under Jane Addams at Hull House in Chicago. She persuaded Winchester’s school board, on which James Goodrich served, to start a public kindergarten for the town’s four- and five-year-old children. For the next fifty-five years, Aunt Belle taught kindergarten to hundreds of Winchester schoolchildren. From 1898 to 1900, Pierre attended public kindergarten, where his teacher was “Miss Belle”—his great aunt.12
The following year further sadness struck the family: On September 10, 1901, Pierre’s seventh birthday, his first cousin, James, the son of John and Charlotte Goodrich, died at the age of four. Another tragedy struck the family soon after. William Wallace, the youngest of the five Goodrich brothers, suffered a terrible loss when his wife, also named Charlotte, died during childbirth.
Despite these losses, growing up in the Goodrich household at the turn of the twentieth century was, for the most part, warm and joyous. In a 1964 interview, Pierre recounted fond memories of his early childhood. “Growing up at Winchester meant a wonderful boyhood,” he recalled. “The first memory I have of my mother is of a dark enthusiastic woman sitting on the floor of our library with a friend of hers, both of them completely surrounded by books. . . . Saturday was a wonderful day in our house at Winchester. Mother assembled great hordes of relatives for Sunday dinner and Saturday was the day when pies, cakes, and bread were baked.
“Unless you have experienced it as a small boy, you can never know the wonderful baking aromas of Saturday at Winchester in the early 1900s,” Pierre added.13
It is revealing that Pierre’s first memory of his mother was associated with books. Cora was a passionate reader and was clearly the more intellectual of Pierre’s parents, but James Goodrich was interested in books all his life as well. As a student at DePauw University, James had studied literature, certainly not an obvious major for a man whose life was dominated by more practical disciplines, such as agriculture, business, banking, politics, and law. James and Cora Goodrich had one of the finest private libraries in east-central Indiana.
During Pierre’s boyhood, the family lived across from the First Presbyterian Church on Franklin Street. In 1913, after Pierre had left to study at Wabash College, James and Cora moved one block to South Street, where their newly built French Provincial mansion stood as a landmark in Winchester for the next sixty-five years.14 At both homes, James and Cora had libraries filled with books on economics, religion, history, music, and literature. The Goodriches’ new house reflected the interests of its occupants. A large reception hall was the first room that visitors entered from the front door. On the left was the library and to the right was the music room. On the ground level there were also a sunroom, a large dining area, a kitchen, and a back porch. The walls and fixtures were made of cherry, oak, or mahogany, and the wood of the dark walls came from trees south of Winchester owned by Cora’s parents.15 On the second floor were five bedrooms and two bathrooms; on the third floor was a ballroom where James and Cora did most of their entertaining.16
Pierre’s childhood was much like those of other boys in small midwestern towns, although his mother constantly hovered over him. The death of Cora’s firstborn may well explain her protective attitude toward Pierre. While he was still quite young, Cora Goodrich bought him a violin. Pierre took lessons and played occasionally throughout his life. He also had a pet cat by the name of Muggins and a pony named Bessie. His favorite pet, however, was a rooster. Pierre regularly placed his feathered pet in cockfights, which were fairly common at the time.17
Pierre was a member of a group of boys who called themselves the Six Jolly Urchins. The group was begun by Ida Kitselman McCamish, mother of Pierre’s closest childhood friend, Carl McCamish. The young troupe included Pierre, Tom Veech, Carl McCamish, Ralph Bales, and several other Winchester boys. The boys had their own outfits and later became known as simply the S.J.U. club. For several years they sponsored monthly dances in the community.18
As Pierre grew older, his father’s absence from the house grew more frequent because of his extensive political and business involvements. The traveling started even before Pierre’s birth. For instance, in April 1893, James Goodrich went to Independence, Missouri, for several days to inquire about investing in gas exploration. A rumor had gone around the town that Goodrich was a representative from the Standard Oil Company and that he was there for the express purpose of buying up all the leasing rights. He was amused by the tremendous interest his presence had created among the townspeople.19
Travels two years later took James Goodrich south. In March 1895, Goodrich made an extensive tour of several southern states, visiting Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina. While hiking in the Smoky Mountains, “jumping from rock to rock,” he fell forty feet down a mountainside, reinjuring the hip that he had broken in 1881. James later traveled down the Mississippi River on the steamship Paul Tulane and toured Baton Rouge and New Orleans. While he admired the architecture of New Orleans, the filth and odors of the southern city repulsed him. His southern exposure aroused in him a particular interest in the plight of the “Negro.” He predicted in a letter to his wife that it would not be long before southern “Negroes” would be relocating in northern cities because so few opportunities were available to them in the South.20
In June 1901, Cora and Pierre traveled to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to stay with cousins for several weeks while Pierre recovered from an illness. James remained in Indiana. In early August, after he had just been appointed chairman of the state Republican Party, James traveled to Colorado to be with his wife and son.21 The family visited Pikes Peak and toured the Pike National Forest in the Rocky Mountains by stagecoach. The experience left quite an impression on Pierre. In a letter he wrote some sixty years later to the great Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek, Pierre referred to the visit nostalgically. He was concerned that modern development and modes of travel were destroying the beautiful preserves he had seen as a child.22
Nothing in Pierre Goodrich’s childhood was remarkable except that he was perhaps more dedicated to study and devoted to family than most boys his age. Yet these early years were a critical time in the formation of Pierre’s character. They were years in which a strong sense of family, security, ingenuity, and other influences left lasting impressions. These influences helped to shape Pierre Goodrich’s entrepreneurial drive, intellectual curiosity, and, probably most directly, his deep libertarian beliefs.
[1. ]See “Lemen Bros. New Colossal Shows” (advertisement), Winchester (Ind.) Journal, September 7, 1894, p. 5, col. 1.
[2. ]See H. W. Brand, The Reckless Decade: America in the 1890s (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995), p. 47.
[3. ]Williams, Current, and Freidel, A History of the United States: Since 1865, p. 200.
[4. ]Brand, The Reckless Decade, p. 47.
[5. ]Riley’s parents, Reuben Alexander Riley and Elizabeth Marine, were married in 1844 in Unionport, Indiana. See “Unionport,” in Randolph County History: 1818–1990, p. 69. According to Florence Dunn, Pierre’s first cousin, when Riley visited Winchester, her father, Ed Goodrich (Pierre’s uncle), would always have her memorize one of Riley’s poems and recite it to the master as a special gift (interview, July 18, 1992).
[6. ]Percy Goodrich’s memories of the Hoosier poet are contained in “James Whitcomb Riley,” Down in Indiana 57 (October 9, 1948). According to Florence Dunn, Riley and Percy Goodrich shared the same birthday, October 7, and Riley would often stay with Percy and his wife Claudia when he visited Winchester (interview, July 18, 1992). Percy Goodrich makes mention of none of this, however, in his brief memoir of Riley, which calls Florence Dunn’s memory into question.
[7. ]See Jacqueline S. Nelson, Indiana Quakers Confront the Civil War (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1991).
[8. ]See Eric Rodenberg, “The Levi Coffin Home: Story of the Underground Railroad,” Winchester (Ind.) News-Gazette, October 9, 1976, historical supplement, pp. 4–5.
[9. ]Former United States senator James E. Watson documents this in his memoirs, As I Knew Them, p. 13. The Civil War monument in Winchester was primarily the responsibility of two men: Jimmy Moorman, who, at his death, donated two thousand dollars toward the cost, and John W. Macy, Sr. Macy had legislation passed through the Indiana General Assembly that made it possible for Randolph County residents to raise an additional twenty-three thousand dollars for the monument by means of a municipal bond.
[10. ]Elizabeth Terry, interview, November 16, 1991. Richard Dennis, former president of the Great Books Foundation in Chicago, remembers that Pierre never liked to be called by the French pronunciation of his name and corrected Dennis on one occasion for doing so (telephone interview, September 30, 1992).
[11. ]Helen Engle Hart, interview, May 10, 1992. Russell Engle attended Wabash College (1915–17) and the First Presbyterian Church of Winchester with Goodrich. The two men also served together for several years on the boards of the Peoples Loan and Trust Co. and Standard Securities. See “Dr. Russell B. Engle Dies; Was Medical Doctor in Randolph County for 46 Years,” Winchester (Ind.) News, April 4, 1966, p. 1, col. 1.
[12. ]Emily Isabelle Edger was the sister of James Goodrich’s mother, Elizabeth Edger Goodrich. Aunt Belle, as she was affectionately known by the entire town, became an icon in Randolph County education. She taught kindergarten to several hundred schoolchildren, including her own five grandnieces and -nephews, over a span of nearly fifty-five years. See “Emily Isabelle Edger,” in Randolph County History: 1818–1990, p. 330.
[13. ]Mary Waldon, “Only Son Fondly Remembers Baking in Home in Winchester,” Indianapolis Star, September 27, 1964, sec. 7, p. 4, col. 1. The article, which is about Cora Goodrich, is one in a series of articles about wives of Indiana governors.
[14. ]Cora Goodrich told John Kidder that it was at her instigation that the building of the well-known Goodrich mansion on South Street was begun in 1912. She was tired of renting, but her husband was traveling so much as state director of the Republican Party and on business that he did not want to be bothered with building a house. Finally, after many pleas from his wife, the future governor consented to the building of the large mansion on three acres of property just three blocks from downtown. Salt Creek, a small creek that runs into the White River, is adjacent to the property, and it was there that James Goodrich and James Watson used to fish when they were boys. Kidder said that Cora Goodrich told him that James Goodrich finally gave in to his wife’s requests to have the house built, but on one condition: that he would have to write only one check to pay for all of the work when it was completed (interview, October 10, 1991).
[15. ]Ibid. According to John Kidder, when the Goodrich mansion was torn down in 1977, the paneling from the library was used in the basement of the newly constructed Peoples Loan and Trust Bank.
[16. ]The description of the Goodriches’ home at 226 East South Street in Winchester is taken from “James Putnam Goodrich,” in Randolph County History: 1818–1990, p. 517.
[17. ]Perce G. Goodrich, interview, May 2, 1993.
[18. ]A brief remembrance of the S.J.U. club can be found in Randolph County History: 1818–1990, p. 379.
[19. ]Letter from James P. Goodrich to Cora Goodrich, April 24, 1893 (in the possession of Priscilla Klosterman, R.R. 2, Box 265, Ridgeville, Indiana).
[20. ]Letter from James P. Goodrich to Cora Goodrich, March 13, 1895 (in the possession of Priscilla Klosterman, R.R. 2, Box 265, Ridgeville, Indiana).
[21. ]Letters from James P. Goodrich to Cora Goodrich in Colorado Springs: June 27, 1901; July 12, 1901; and July 22, 1901. Letters from James P. Goodrich to Pierre F. Goodrich in Colorado Springs: July 20, 1901; July 27, 1901; and July 30, 1901 (in the possession of Priscilla Klosterman, R.R. 2, Box 265, Ridgeville, Indiana).
[22. ]Letter to Friedrich A. Hayek, February 18, 1959, F. A. Hayek Collection, box 22, folder 6, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, Stanford, California.