A Narrative History
The People of Iowa
SPECIALTREATMENT OF THEIR CHIEF ENTERPRISES IN
EDUCATION, RELIGION, VALOR,INDUSTRY,
EDGAR RUBEY HARLAN, LL. B., A.M.
Curator of the
Historical, Memorial and Art Department ofIowa
THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Inc.
Chicago and NewYork
HON. JOHN E. GOODENOW, founder of Maquoketa, where many of his descendants are still living, including a grandson bearing his name, arrived in Iowa Territory in the spring of 1838. The territory was organized that year, and the
total white population was only 23,000.These people had come in during the five years since the signing of the Black Hawk treaty of 1833, and nearly all of them lived in towns and communities along the banks of the Mississippi
River, which was then the only highway of commerce connecting Iowa with the outside world.
John E. Goodenow was of long lived, sturdy New England ancestry and thespan
of his own life was measured by ninety years.Most of his life wasspent in
pioneer circumstances, and he was one of the real builders of the great
West, his character and integrity well matching his inexhaustible industry, his
enterprise and his far reaching vision.
It is an important contribution to the history of Iowa to present thestory
of his life as a pioneer, with many of the interesting details andadventures
to illustrate the obstacles and difficulties that were part of the lot of the early settlers.
He was born at Springfield, Windsor County, Vermont, March 23, 1812.For
over sixty years his home was in Jackson County, Iowa, where he passedaway,
honored and respected, in 1902.His grandfather, Timothy Goodenow, was an early settler in Windsor County, Vermont, hewed a farm out of the wilderness and lived to be nearly ninety years of age.Timothy Goodenow,Jr., father of the
Iowa pioneer, was reared and married in Windsor County, and in 1820, when his son John E. was eight years of age, he himself set an example of pioneering, moving overland by wagons and teams to Warren County, New York.He bought
timber land in Queensbury Township, and, like his father before him, cleared up a farm.In 1847, when well advanced in years, he came to Iowa, bought land two and a half miles south of Maquoketa, and lived there until his death in
1850. Timothy Goodenow, Jr., married Betsey White, who wasborn at Rockingham, Windham County, Vermont, being a direct descendant of Peregrine White of the original Mayflower band of Pilgrims.She was a descendant in the sixty
generation from this famous character. Her father,Phineas White, was a Vermont farmer and married Jerusha March.
John E. Goodenow tested his early strength in working with his fatherin
clearing away the timber form the land in New York State.He waseducated in
winter terms of country schools. When he left home, at the age oftwenty-two,
he bought a canal boat and used it for freighting marble, lumber,wood and
farm products on the Champlain Canal, Lake Champlain and the HudsonRiver.
After two years he employed men to operate the boat, and himself became a clerk in the Parmenter general store at Moriah, New York. In the latter part of 1837 he formed a partnership with his employer, having saved a capital of a
thousand dollars. Mr. Parmenter furnished a similar amountand Mr. Goodenow, as the representative of the firm, was to come west to that part of Wisconsin Territory now included in the State of Iowa, buy Government land and engage in
other business on the partnership basis. A large part of the money was invested in merchandise, including ready-made clothing, axes, harness. In January, 1838, accompanied by Lyman Bates, Mr. Goodenow started west with a four-horse team, driving the entire distance to the forks of the Maquoketa River, having crossed the Mississippi River on the ice March 10th. Arriving at Cooper Creek at night, they remained in a vacant cabin until early morning, when they constructed a bridge of poles to cross the creek. A greater obstacle was encountered on reaching Deep Creek, which was swollen by the spring rains. Near it was the only family then residing between Sabula and the present site of Maquoketa.Securing shelter with this family, they worked at putting up a substantial bridge forty feet long, splitting logs, which were laid with the flat side up upon the stringers. They reached their ultimate destination after a journey of nine weeks and two days.
Mr. Goodenow at once purchased a claim, including the ground occupiedby the
present City of Maquoketa.His log house stood where are now Mainand Platt
streets. While breaking up the virgin sod he gradually sold off his merchandise, reinvesting the money in improvements and in other claims. After two years the partnership between him and Mr. Parmenter was dissolved by a division
of land and stock. In these early years Mr.Goodenow depended upon ox teams to plow the ground and provide transportation. During his first year in the territory, when provisions became scarce, he and Mr. Bates set out for Savanna on the east bank of the Mississippi, arriving on the west bank of the river at the present site of Sabula, on which then stood only one house, and Mr. Goodenow waded through the water, followed by the team of oxen, finally, after three-quarters of a mile, reaching the dry land on which stood the house. The next day Mr. Goodenow reached Savanna and after starting his team home with a load of corn set out on foot for Galena, where he purchased a supply of provisions, ordering them shipped to Bellevue.He started home on foot, crossing the Mississippi at Hunt's Ferry. He set out across the stream in a boat alone, and on reaching land in the darkness found he was on an island and had to camp there over night, lying underneath the boat onthe wet ground. The next morning he finally found the north bank of the Maquoketa and pursued his journey homeward.In a cabin where he obtained breakfast he determined to call on a Mr. White, living in the vicinity of Bellevue, and from White he bought a sow and six small pigs, and slowly drove them, carrying the pigs part of the way, until he reached home.
During thoseearly years wild game was abundant and every spring and fall
the settlers wouldbe visited by the Indians, who camped along the river,
hunting until the gamebecame scarce.These Indians were always friendly, but in
many ways weretroublesome, frequently frightening the wives of the pioneers
by their habit ofcoming into a dwelling without the formality of knocking.
The countryaround Maquoketa was a part of Dubuque County for several years
and all taxeshad to be paid and other court business transacted at Dubuque.
John E.Goodenow was a tremendously busy man in those early years.Besides
lookingafter his growing landed interests, the cultivation and raising of
crops, hisenterprise contributed to the making of Maquoketa a trading center
for thesurrounding country and the country to the west.Like other pioneers,
heentertained travelers. and later for many years conducted a hotel.His
first tavern was a log house containing four rooms and a loft.In 1842 he
secured the establishment of a postoffice at Maquoketa.Up to that time
Bellevue had been the postoffice.When he came to Iowa his nearest millwas six
miles north of Dubuque, on the Little Maquoketa.In the summer of 1838 Mr. Goodenow had mill machinery shipped from the East, which he set up, operating by horsepower at first, and the following year built a dam on PrairieCreek, a mile south of Maquoketa.Here he installed a two-foot burr stone. There was no bolting apparatus and the flour had to be used as it came from the stones. For two or three years this mill performed the grinding for Scott, Clinton and Jackson counties.People came a distance of fifty miles, waiting a long time for their grist.The mill was kept busy day and night. The hopper held one bushel, and Mr. Goodenow, having no assistance would fill the hopper and drop down on the sacks and go to sleep and the change in the noise of the mill when the hopper was empty would awaken him. One time he operated the mill seven days and nights without stopping.Since he was unmarried, the mill was his home. His principal fare besides the wildgame was cornmeal cakes made with water and without salt.Sugar, tea, coffee and butter were luxuries rarely seen.
In the fall of 1839 Mr. Goodenow sold his mill and returned east, andon
October 3, 1839, married Miss Eliza Wright, of Bolton, New York.Onaccount of
sickness they did not start for the West until it was too late tomake the
journey by river.Accordingly they started with a team of horses,a sleigh and
a wagon, sometimes using one vehicle and sometimes the other.After nine
weeks they arrived in Maquoketa.While going throughCarroll County, Illinois,
they lost their way, night overtaking them on theprairie, and they and a
young man accompanying them all had to sleep in thesleigh.After his return
Mr. Goodenow occupied himself with his farminginterests and his hotel.About
the close of the Civil war he disposed ofhis hotel, and was chiefly concerned in the management of his numerous farms and in the improvement of his real estate in Maquoketa, where he put up several buildings. He became a man of prominence and great influence both in business and civic affairs. At his hospitable home in Maquoketa wereentertained many of the prominent citizens of Iowa and the Middle West. Mr. Goodenow was elected a member of the First Iowa Legislature and had the honor of giving the names of two new counties, Osceola and Kossuth.Three times he was elected mayor of Maquoketa. This city in modern times has many memorials of his pioneer work and public spirited
generosity. He gave his tract of land, comprising a block and a half square, facing on Main Street, on which stand the modern high school and Junior College buildings.
Mr. and Mrs. Goodenow lived to celebrate their golden weddinganniversary.
She survived him seven years, passing away in 1909.Shewas born at Lake
George, Warren County, New York, March 9, 1818.TheWright family came from
Scotland.Her grandfather, Samuel Wright, was aConnecticut farmer.Her
father, Miles Wright, was left an orphan at anearly age, being reared by his
stepfather.His only brother, Samuel, wasfor some years a missionary and teacher among the Indians of Western New York, and spent his last years at Milwaukee.Thomas Miles Wright when a young man moved to Shelburne, Franklin County, Massachusetts, where he married MissEliza Smead.She was born there and died in Warren County, New York,November 18, 1828. Her father, Samuel Smead, was a native of Massachusetts, and about 1825, went to Ohio and became a
pioneer of Lake County, in the northeast part of that state, buying timbered land which with the aid of his sons was converted into a farm. Samuel Smead lived to be ninety-three years of age, and after the death of his first wife
married Mrs. Catherine Griffin) Staunton, a native of Warren County, New York. Thomas Miles Wright about 1800, with several other families, moved to Warren County, NewYork, where he acquired timbered land and built a log house. Near thishomestead afterwards grew up the town of Huddle, and his wife and the other members of the colony, except himself, being members of the Presbyterian Churchin New England, organized themselves into a society and put up a church. Thomas Miles Wright with the aid of his sons, cleared up three farms, established a woolen mill for the manufacture of cloth, a smelting furnace for iron, conducted a store and a lumber business, at one time operating two saw mills.His extensive operations brought him a position of wealth, but he lost a large part of his property by the signing of notes for friends. Eventually he again built up a considerable fortune. In 1840 he came out to Iowa to visit his children and was so pleased with the new country that he bought a farm.He lived with Mrs. Goodenow and his son Samual until his death, which occurred in February, 1864, at the age of eighty-eight years, four months.
The children of John E. and Eliza (Wright) Goodenow were seven in number, Osceola, Mary L., Emma, Helen C., Alice, George E. and Winfield S.
*Check your facts, don't know how accurate.