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The Goodell family of Vermilion, Ohio, and
early settlers of Washington Territory — Part 1

By Noel V. Bourasaw, Skagit River Journal ©2005
(Jotham and Anna Goodell)
Jotham and Anna Goodell at the time of their wedding. Courtesy of David Bigler

By Noel V. Bourasaw, Skagit River Journal of History & Folklore, ©2005
(We are updating this entire section. Can you help?)

How the Goodells were related
      Nathan Edwards (later shortened to Edward) Goodell emigrated west as a young boy in a covered wagon with his Goodell family, which left its mark on the frontier and also left several accounts of their journeys and struggles. His father, Jotham Weeks Goodell, was the head of a clan that produced many history makers and tellers and Jotham was an author in his own right. The full story of Jotham's role as a minister and as a leader of a westbound wagon train in 1850-51 is in a separate upcoming chapter of this Goodell section.
      The 1881 letter to his nephew Willie Baker that we quoted in the chapter about Edward (alternate web address) was what both first excited me about Edward and then led me to dig beneath the sparse written record available. Years ago, I realized that there might be a connection between Edward and another famous northwest Washington pioneer whose maiden name was Goodell. Phoebe Goodell Judson was the mother of the town of Lynden, a town I knew well because I married a girl named Alice Van Zanten who was born and raised there, and because our daughter, Jennifer Johnston, now lives there. Alice's father, Maurice Van Zanten, owned an azalea nursery just a short walk from the cemetery through which you drive to enter the town proper. I wondered, were these two Goodells cousins, maybe even brother and sister. For some reason, historians have never addressed this possible conjunction. I have spent the past ten years or more reading every source possible and turning over every rock but could not discover the proof of what grew as a hunch in my mind.
      In the spring of 2005 I discussed Edward with the late Jim Harris, the National Parks Service volunteer who met William Loren Goodell back in the 1970s, and I encouraged him to remember details about his brief encounter. As we talked, a possible avenue for tracing Edward's family formed. He gave me some great hints, so I decided to look on the Internet for a phone number for any Goodell in the Portland, Oregon, area. The first one I reached did not know anything about the genealogy of the family but suggested that someone else in his family did. So I followed the chain until I met Rahlie Goodell, who lives with her husband, Rockey, in a rural part of Oregon, far from Portland. That was the Eureka! moment this summer. As soon as we said hello, she assured me that she had, indeed, studied the family and besides that, she had the basic book on the family genealogy, written in 1984 by the late George Williams, back in Connecticut. An hour later, as she combed the index, she came upon Edward and Phoebe's family.
      Sure enough, our hunch was correct. Phoebe was the second eldest child of 11, a twin, born Oct. 25, 1831, in Ancaster, Canada — now a suburb of Hamilton, Ontario, at the far-west end of Lake Ontario, southwest of Toronto. In 1827, Jotham Weeks Goodell moved to Ontario from Massachusetts where his ancestor, Robert Goodell [or Goodale] emigrated in 1634 from England. Jotham's father, William Goodell, was a Revolutionary War veteran and he moved the family to Templeton, Massachusetts. The Williams book includes quotes from William's war record that indicate he had "head and body injuries which crippled him for life." The Goodell patriarchs for several generations were well educated for their time and several of them were Congregational ministers. Jotham's brother, William Goodell Jr., was a well-educated author, writing Forty Years in the Turkish Empire and translating the King James Bible into Armeno-Turkish. Jotham (1809-1859) was born April 23, 1809, the baby of 11 children. Jotham apparently became a lay Congregational minister before he left for Canada and may have been ordained after moving there. At age 18, this would be the first of bold moves Jotham made to strike out on his own.
      In those days before Confederation in 1867, the lower part of Ontario was known as Canada West and then part of the Province of Canada. Jotham preached in York County, Canada West, and in 1828, he married Anna Glenning Bacheler (or Bachelor, 1810-81) at Gwillimbury, 20 miles north of Toronto. After moving to Ancaster, young Jotham became a founder of the Niagara Presbyterian Church of Ontario and became a Presbyterian minister. In 1837, Jotham actively supported annexation of part of Canada West to the U.S. and his neighbors took offense. According to details in a manuscript by Goodell descendant Ethel Goodell Clark, My Goodell Family in America, 1634-1978, [hereafter My Goodell Family]. Jotham and other American sympathizers bivouacked in a school, church or tavern — sources do not agree on which, and raised the U.S. flag, but when Canadian soldiers surrounded the building, Jotham and family escaped under the cover of darkness. The family apparently had a wagon waiting because they fled overland across the neck of land between the lakes and then across Lake Erie in an open boat towards Ohio.

(Steamboat Hotel)
Rich Tarrant supplied this illustration as an example of Vermilion in the days when the Goodells lived there

      Nathan Edward Goodell was born on Oct. 21, 1839, after Jotham settled his family in northern Ohio. Jotham preached at both Congregational and Presbyterian churches, but mostly the latter at Vermilion, Ohio. As you will read in other Journal stories that we link, Vermilion was a cradle for many other important early Northwest pioneers, including Henry Roeder, the founder of Whatcom, and his wife, Elizabeth Austin. Abolitionists were making waves at the time and the Presbyterian church was sometimes chided nationally for not making a strong enough stand against slavery. Goodell descendant Karen Rinnert Parsons reminded us that Jotham's brother, William Goodell Jr., was well known for anti-slavery speeches and articles and several of his children were active in the abolitionist movement. She is researching to see if Jotham's brother Rev Joel Goodell played a part in the underground railroad for escaped slaves. She notes that he later lived in Tabor, Iowa, which was a hub for that railroad, while he was a circuit-riding preacher. Jotham leaned more towards the strong anti-slavery positions of the Congregationalists. Rich Tarrant, a columnist in Vermilion, Ohio, explains that Jotham Weeks Goodell "was the minister of the First Presbyterian Church at the time of the dedication of the brick church in 1842. That is the church that was organized in 1818 and is now the United Church of Christ, Congregational. It remained a Presbyterian church with congregational polity until the Civil War when the congregation voted to unite with the Ohio Congregational Conference. The reason for the decision was the failure of the Presbyterian Church nationally and regionally to oppose slavery more vigorously."

Jotham's 1850 wagon train versus Holden Judson's 1853 train
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      After serving 13 years as a minister in Ohio, Jotham decided to join the mass migration west, but he did not want to raise his family in rough and ready California. In an 1852 letter to his future daughter-in-law back in Ohio, he explained the wisdom of moving to Oregon Territory: "Here with prudence, industry and economy he might in a short time, with God's blessing, become rich, while in Ohio, with no means to begin with, it will require a hard and long struggle." Like many other families in the East and in the states to the east of the Mississippi River that were then considered "The West," Jotham decided to move his young family to the far end of the new country so that he and his children could obtain large tracts of land, something they could not do in Ohio. That is a common thread of the Covered Wagon movement of the 1840s and '50s.
      In the spring of 1850, Jotham and Anna, with seven of their children and Holden Judson, Phoebe's husband, started on the first leg of their journey. Rich Tarrant helps us understand the route that travelers would take back then from northern Ohio to the jumping-off point for covered-wagon trains along the Missouri River and at Council Bluffs, Iowa. He provides very valuable local perspective as he explains that the Goodells would have traveled twenty miles by stagecoach to Sandusky. From that point they would have likely either gone by steamboat to Detroit and through the Mackinac straits to Chicago, or take the Mad River route and then the Lake Erie Railroad to Cincinnati, transferring at Xenia, Ohio. In Phoebe Goodell Judson's 1925 book, A Pioneer's Search for an Ideal Home [republished in 1984, hereafter Ideal Home], she gives some brief glimpses of the route that she and her husband and toddler daughter Annie took three years after her the rest of her family moved. She wrote that on March 1, 1853, they departed along the lake shore road, then reached Sandusky City, where they boarded the train for Cincinnati. where they boarded a steamboat that traveled down the Ohio River and up the Mississippi to St. Louis. There they transferred their baggage to a little steamboat, the Kansas, that ascended the Missouri River — which she described as the most dangerous waterway on the route — to "Kansas Landing," the spot now known as Kansas City on the Kansas side. A number of fellow emigrants to California urged them to continue up the River to Council Bluffs, but Holden had made arrangements before they left to purchase their outfit at Kansas Landing. They stayed there five weeks while their wagon was built and then departed west on May 1 with a wagon train led by Gustavus and Harvey Hines, brothers and Methodist ministers from New York. Mary Michaelson mentioned that Kansas Landing was also known as Westport. As you will see in the endnotes, there are two books about that wagon train, which included the three Hines brothers. Obadiah was the oldest, but he drowned in the Snake River at Fort Boise. In Ideal Home, Phoebe erroneously identified him as Jedediah, as have other sources that quoted her.
      David L. Bigler, author of the 2001 book, A Winter with the Mormons, The 1852 Letters of Jotham Goodell, [hereafter Winter With the Mormons] records one difference in the jumping-off point between Jotham's train and Holden Judson's train. Jotham purchased the oxen, wagons and supplies at Council Bluffs, Iowa, before heading west in late May or early June. Both he and Ethel Goodell Clark wrote that Jotham was weeks late in starting out. That turned out to be a crucial mistake but we do not know why they were so late. By the time that their wagon train reached present-day western Wyoming three months later, Jotham decided his family would be safer if they wintered in Utah with the Mormons rather than trying to cross the Blue Mountains in Oregon Territory so late in the season. More than 15,000 other wagon-train emigrants decided to do the same. They arrived in Weber County, Utah, in September. Edward turned 11 that fall so the whole journey was burnished into his memory.
      We will cover the Mormon winter fully in the Jotham chapter, but suffice it to say that the experience was terrible and made Jotham bitter about Mormons the rest of his life, witnessed by the many letters to the editor of the Portland Oregonian, on which Bigler's book is based.

The Goodells arrive in Oregon Territory in 1851
(Phoebe Goodell Judson)
Phoebe Goodell Judson

      The June 7, 1851, issue of the Portland Oregonian announced that the Goodell family arrived in what was then a small but thriving city, bustling with business and excitement based on the migration. Jotham was addressed as "Captain Goodell," leading the wagon train:
      There are several families, among which are 16 females. They left Salt Lake on the 28th of March, and arrived at the Dalles, May 29, making the journey in sixty-two days. The health of the company has been good during the journey. They were attacked by the Indians on Snake River, but lost none of their party. The Indians kept up a fire across the river upon them for two hours, which the emigrants returned, killing several Indians during the fight.
      At this point, I begin to rely considerably on the considerable research that a trio of Goodell researchers has assembled in preparation for the Goodell gathering in Chehalis on Oct. 8-9, 2005. Not long after I posted questions on an Internet bulletin board in the summer of 2005, an email arrived in response from Mary Michaelson. Mary immersed herself in Goodell history when she moved to Lynden, Washington, a few years ago and subsequently became assistant curator at the Lynden Pioneer Museum. Michaelson conducts in-depth research of pioneer families at Lynden, the town that Holden and Phoebe Goodell Judson begat. In turn, she introduced me to Carolyn Stone and Karen Rinnert Parsons, Goodell descendants who have researched and studied the family for years and connected with other descendants all over the country, and they, in turn, introduced me to many other descendants. We also correspond with David L. Bigler and Rich Tarrant, who have researched the family extensively. Mary, who is not a Goodell descendant but may become an honorary member, pointed out — as did David L. Bigler, that Holden Judson did not arrive in Oregon with the Goodell wagon train. On the way west from Utah in April 1851, Judson took a cut-off to California in search of his fortune in the California gold rush.
      Jotham soon settled his family in Polk County, west of the Oregon territorial capital in Salem. Jotham was near destitute after the long journey west and losses sustained while wintering in Mormon territory. Young Edward likely had to work when they temporarily settled in Oregon, as did the rest of the family, at least by taking care of the three younger children. We have few details of how the family earned their keep during the next two years while some intrepid settlers moved into the northern part of the territory that would soon become Washington. In the June 1852 letter home to Anna Maria Pelton, the fiancee of his eldest son, William Bird, Jotham wrote that he returned home one day to find Holden Judson sitting at the table in the Goodell farmhouse. Holden surprised his father-in-law by returning from the gold fields after a little over a year away — without a fortune. We do not know how he returned to Ohio to fetch his wife and child, but we conclude that he must have returned via schooner down the West coast and trekked across the Isthmus of Panama before boarding a mail ship to the East coast. After checking many accounts of pioneers who returned east via the Oregon trail or other route, we just cannot see how he returned to Ohio overland in two months, even three. However he returned, he did so in record time because he arrived in Ohio in time for Phoebe to conceive their second child in September.
      Phoebe's twin, Mary Weeks Goodell, did not live with her parents and family in Oregon. David L. Bigler wrote that she married while wintering in Mormon territory. On Dec. 13, 1850, Reverend Jotham married his daughter, Mary, 19, to another wintering emigrant, Nathan Meloy of Pennsylvania, 25. (His name is also spelled Maloy — as it is pronounced, Malory and Melory in various accounts.) We finally confirmed the spelling via Betty Meloy, whose husband, Norman Douglas Meloy, is a direct descendant. Sometime after the Meloys arrived in Oregon with Jotham's wagon train, they moved to a home in the forest west of Portland and by the late 1850s they lived near Gresham.

Washington Territory
(Melancthon Goodell)
Melancthon Goodell. Courtesy of David Bigler

      Sometime after Washington Territory was separated from Oregon on March 2, 1853, probably that spring, Jotham moved the family north across the Columbia River to Thurston County. Again, we have few details of that crucial point on the Goodell timeline, but we will briefly review the leadup to the formation of Washington Territory and supplement that with details from Phoebe Goodell Judson's book, Ideal Home. When Jotham and family arrived in Oregon in 1851, only a few hundred Americans lived in the northern half of the territory above the Columbia River that had been disputed land until the U.S. and England agreed to the present northern border at the 49th parallel in 1846.
      Col. Michael T. Simmons was the most successful of the lot in an economic sense, settling first at a claim he called New Market, which became known as Tumwater, and then at Smithfield, which Col. Isaac Ebey soon renamed Olympia (T. is for Troutman, some sources mistakenly indicate his middle initial as F.). Simmons was a successful businessman who provided timber and foodstuffs to California miners who were strapped for resources. He is generally considered the key pioneer of Washington Territory, although he was certainly not the first. His wagon train arrived in Oregon Territory in 1844, but he did not settle at the head of Puget Sound until 1845. Most historians accord that honor to John R. Jackson, who settled in 1845 at what became known as Jackson Prairie (sometimes called Highlands), south of Olympia. Six miles south of Jackson Prairie, a settlement began in 1837 (during joint occupancy by both countries) around a landing and crossing on the Cowlitz River. Over the years the area around that crossing was marked by a trading post, a Roman Catholic Mission, and headquarters for a large farm operated by Puget's Sound Agricultural Company, a subsidiary of Hudson's Bay Company [HBC]. The HBC was a thorn in the American settlers' side for some time. When American settlers began moving there, this spot on the river was originally called Plamondon's Landing for Simon B. Plamondon, the owner of a Donation Land Claim nearby (Simon Bonaparte Plamondon's name is sometimes misspelled as Plomondon). Soon the settlement became known as Cowlitz Landing on the Clark Donation Land Claim. In 1850, Edward D. Warbass established a town nearby named Warbassport. Both villages co-existed and in 1854 Warbass obtained a post office at his store. The present-day town of Toledo rose about a mile north in the 1860s and was actually incorporated in 1892.
      Several prairies dotted the dense forests in that area that became Thurston and Lewis counties, a result of generations of Indians burning off the brush and brambles in areas where camas roots could be grown and harvested, a staple in their diet. In 1852, a settler named Lewis H. Davis claimed another such clearing around the future town of Claquato and named it Davis Prairie. Another prairie just south of Olympia was named for George Bush, a black settler who came west in the Simmons wagon train. Upon arriving, members of the train discovered that non-whites could not own land in Oregon Territory, which angered Bush and his old friend, Simmons, so they decided to move north across the Columbia. The year before that the Collins/Henry Van Asselt/Mapel party settled near the mouth of the Duwamish River and the Denny/Low/Terry party settled at Alki, which became West Seattle, but settlement there was still a few years off. The population center of the area north of the Columbia was in Lewis County.
      Settlers eventually traveled by horse and wagon north to Olympia along what was then known as the Cowlitz trail, which had been used by Indians for centuries. But in the early days, the trail was still too crude for wagon travel, so settlers like Jotham's family had to hire Indians to row them up the Cowlitz River from Monticello. That was a village two miles south of present Longview where Harry and Rebecca Jane Huntington settled in 1849 and named in honor of Thomas Jefferson's home in Virginia. On Nov. 25, 1852, 44 delegates from all over the northern half of Oregon Territory gathered there to draft a memorial to Congress to create a new territory. A year before that, 26 delegates met at Cowlitz Landing to demand roads, mail service, troops to hold off Indians, law enforcement and courts in the northern half of Oregon Territory. They felt no particular allegiance to Oregon but did consider themselves American citizens who should be heard by the federal government nearly 3,000 miles away. Those who wanted a new territory named Columbia did not get it.
      When Jotham started west with his family in 1850, the western third of the territory north of the Columbia was all Lewis County. Even before Oregon was officially declared an official territory in 1848, the provisional territorial legislature delineated Lewis County to honor explorer Meriwether Lewis, with boundaries of the Columbia River on the south to a point at 54 degrees 40 minutes longitude north that is in present-day British Columbia. That original northern boundary followed the 1844 campaign slogan of President James K. Polk, "54-40 or fight." The western boundary was the Pacific Ocean and the eastern was the crest of the Cascades. The first documented meeting of the county commissioners took place on October 4, 1847, in John Jackson's cabin on his prairie; the only official function of the district was taxation and holding court. By the time that Washington Territory broke away in March 1853, Thurston County was carved out, north of the resulting smaller Lewis County, and Cowlitz County was carved out south all the way to the Columbia. Thurston County was named for Samuel R. Thurston, Oregon Territory's first delegate to the U.S. Congress, even though he never lived north of the Columbia. After he completed his first term, he was returning home via the Isthmus of Panama when he died at sea near Acalpulco, Mexico. Lewis's partner in the 1804-06 expedition to the Pacific, William Clark, was honored as the namesake for the county that originally encompassed the middle third of the territory north of the Columbia. Clark County is now the small chunk of the original Lewis County that lies south of Cowlitz County, with Vancouver as its principal city.

Jotham moves his family north
      We have very few details that apply to Edward directly, so we will refer to the experience of various family members and draw inferences from those. Jotham chose to stake out a spot still known as Goodell's Point on what is known as Grand Mound. Mary Michaelson infers that he chose the location because the Point is at the junction of two early trails that crossed there. A town by the name is nearby today, with a population of 2,000, just west of I-5. This is about ten miles south from the nucleus of one of Washington's most mysterious geologic mysteries. The Mima mounds dot 625 acres of the prairie around the small village of Littlerock. The soil mounds rise about 8 feet high and average 30 feet across. The rock under the soil is stratified glacial outwash left by the last Ice Age, about 14,000 years ago.. One lobe of the glacier, the Vashon Stade, expanded down through Puget Sound, stopping just south of what is now Olympia. The most plausible theory for these hummocks is that gravel outwash poured down into holes that formed in the glacier as it melted. Other theories have ranged from the academic, about either earthquakes or alternate freezing and thawing, to the humorous about giant gophers to the myth that Paul Bunyan created them while skidding logs behind Babe, the blue ox. The formations have been puzzling outsiders since a Hudson's Bay Company artist named Paul Kane painted the mounds and prairies while wandering through the area in the 1840s, at the same time that he painted an eruption of Mt. St. Helens and groups of Native Americans. Each spring, this area outside of towns is nearly taken over by wild, bright-yellow, Scotch broom, or la ginestra (Cytisus scoparius).

The route from Oregon to Grand Mound

(Mima Mounds)
The Mima mounds

      Critics sometimes quibble with Phoebe's book, Ideal Home, about her vague and occasionally inaccurate timeline, but we marvel at the detail she recalled from those days more than 50 years before she recorded her memoir. That is certainly true of her description of the route and method that she and Holden used to travel north from Oregon to Washington Territory. We conclude that Phoebe and Holden followed the same directions as Jotham did three months before so we will summarize her description here. Jotham and Anna and the six children would have traveled down the Willamette River in some sort of boat to the Columbia and then continued 30 miles north on the River to Rainier, the site of a present-day defunct nuclear power plant. At that point, the Judsons took a ferry directly across the Columbia to the mouth of the Cowlitz River and a little ways north to the village of Monticello. Phoebe described the village as a hole in the woods that was only large enough to contain one house, presumably the same house that held the territorial memorial meeting two months before. They slept overnight on their blankets spread across fir boughs and left at daylight the next morning.
      They hired Indians to row them, probably in two or more canoes, against the very swift current of the Cowlitz River. Countless snags and obstructions in the River required them to get out and portage around, and many shallow stretches marked the next 30 miles where the Indians poled the canoes along. On the first evening, they stayed at "a rude hotel kept by a 'bach' who was known by the pioneers from one end of the Sound country to the other by the name of 'old hard bread' because of the hard bread he invariably served to his customers." [Ed. note: the Lewis County Historical Society experts explain that the bachelor was James Gardiner.] But Phoebe's party "fared sumptuously on salmon and potatoes," probably prepared in the Indian fashion by roasting over alder twigs. At noon the second day, the party reached Cowlitz Landing, where the Hudson's Bay Company had a trading post. The Indians who ran the crude hotel told the Judsons that Phoebe's younger brother Melancthon, then 18, checked weekly on the day that the mail boat ascended the River, and suddenly he appeared. [Ed. note: the Lewis County experts say that either Edward D. Warbass or Fred Clark owned the hotel she mentioned.]
      Phoebe did not explain their mode of travel for the last leg of their trip to Jotham's farm at Grand Mound, only that they covered 45 miles and that "It seemed like a long distance to make in one day, but then we were progressing more rapidly than when traveling after the tired, poky oxen. We enjoyed the change of locomotion . . ." The distance along today's I-5 freeway is just 30 miles so they must have taken a circuitous route. We know that the Judsons' horses were left back in Oregon, but perhaps the Indians guided them with horses and a wagon from the HBC farm. She noted the homes of pioneers that they met in passing, as Jotham would have a few months before that. John R. Jackson was on his namesake prairie and called his farm "The Highlands," then Schuyler S. Saunders [some sources give his first name as Stuart] on Saunders Prairie, where Chehalis now stands. They then crossed the Skookumchuck (Indian for strong water) River at its conjunction with the Chehalis River west of Centralia. Only months later, the nephew of the new territorial governor, Isaac I. Stevens, drowned there while attempting to ford the same river. Next they passed by the four claims of Messrs. Joseph S. Borst, Cochran, Holms and George Waunch where Centralia now stands, and then Sidney [some sources spell his name as Sydney] Ford's farm on Ford's Prairie, about two miles north. [Ed. note: the Lewis County experts corrected the spelling of names from Phoebe's original text.]

Grand Mound
(William Goodell family)
William Goodell family. Courtesy of William E. Goodell

      This passage from Phoebe's book, Ideal Home, gives us an idea of how thrilled she was by her new environment after their arduous trip:
      It was one of Washington's loveliest October days, brightened by the snow-capped peaks of the mountains glistening in the morning sunshine; the gorgeous hues of the maple foliage on the lowlands, with a background of the ever green fir and cedar, presenting a landscape that could hardly be surpassed for grandeur, or more refreshing to the souls of weary emigrants.
      We do not know exactly what or who led him to the Point, but Jotham staked out a 640-acre donation claim, 320 acres in both his and Anna's names. He named the rocky promontory Grand Mound to contrast it with the Mound Prairie around it that features the smaller Mima mounds. The mound he chose is 125 feet high. Indians called the area, aqaygt, or "long prairie." We wish we knew who directed Jotham to that area or if he merely chose it because of the promontory. We assumed from Phoebe's description in Ideal Home that the farmland he cleared was too rocky to produce goody crops and that it was more suited for pastureland for stock. After all, Jotham's land was along what was the ancient channel of the Chehalis River. But Mary Michaelson corrected us. She concluded from seeing early maps that Jotham's land did grow good crops but that the land that Holden chose only had a tiny amount of acreage for such purposes.
      Mary Michaelson also found the original claim papers in which she soon noticed that Jotham fudged his arrival date in Oregon Territory. In order to qualify for 320 acres — a half section, instead of 160, the applicant had to arrive in the territory before Dec. 1, 1850. With the altered date, he was able to claim 320 acres in both his and his wife's names. We will explain the Donation Land Law and its application to Oregon settlers in the Jotham chapter. (Meanwhile, you can read this Journal site about homesteading and various laws enacted by Congress.) Edward was 13 by the time they migrated north and he likely learned carpentry and logging skills as his father and neighbors built a cedar-shake cabin with floors made of milled lumber
      A Place Names project for Thurston County cites different information about Grand Mound. That source states that Leonard Durgin, who also built a home on top of Mound Prairie, suggested the town's name in 1853. We know that Durgin was a member of the Territorial legislature and that he even suggested that the territorial capital should be located on Grand Mound. Mary Michaelson suggests that both of them may have suggested the name. In her book, Phoebe mentioned that the original settlers on the mound by 1854 were "J.W. Goodell, L.D. Durgin, Josephus Axtel, Samuel James and H.A. Judson."

Two more Goodell children and families trek west
      In October 1853, Jotham and Anna welcomed daughter Phoebe and her husband, Holden, and toddler Annie, along with a complete surprise, their five-month old baby named Charles LaBonta Goodell, who was born along LaBonta Creek, which is now located in Wyoming, west of historic Fort Laramie. We can imagine how young Edward's eyes must have widened as he heard the tale of how his sister's young family endured a seven-month trip straight through on the Oregon Trail as opposed to Jotham's stopover in Utah. After floating their wagons down the Columbia from The Dalles in Oregon, the Judsons must have been weary to the bone, especially Phoebe with her new baby. She stopped off to see her twin, Mary, in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, where Phoebe was finally able to regain her strength and eat something other than the monotonous fare of the trip. They then followed the same route north across the Columbia and up the Cowlitz River that we outlined above. In the separate Phoebe chapter we will review details of the claim that Holden and Phoebe staked near her father.
      Nearly a year later, William Bird Goodell arrived with his bride, Anna Maria, and their baby son, Frederick. That made a total of a eight Goodell sons and daughters together in the clan, a large part of the dozen families clustered around the Grand Mound area. In her diary entries quoted in The Vermilion Wagon Train Diaries, 1854, Anna Maria wrote that her father-in-law rode out to greet them on Sept. 24, 1854. She described that he made several crossings of the Naches River enroute, so we conclude that they arrived via what settlers called the Emigrant Road, or Cascades Road, from Walla Walla to Fort Steilacoom, 13 miles southwest of present-day Tacoma. That was roughly the route of the present-day State Hwy 12. As James W. Scott and Roland DeLorme observed in their terrific 1988 book, Historical Atlas of Washington, that route was opened in 1853, after a $20,000 Congressional appropriation, and was 234 1/2 miles long. It reached an elevation of approximately 5,000 feet on Naches Pass, and crossed the Naches River as many as 50 times. The congressional appropriation had not yet arrived, so the road was very primitive.
      Young Edward must have been exposed to many key pioneers at the family cabin in those years. When Jotham met up with Anna Maria and William and Holden Judson's parents, the tired travelers were part of the "Ebey Train" that included members of the Jacob Ebey family from Missouri; the family of Ezra Meeker, a famous pioneer who settled in the Puyallup area; and Whidbey Island-settler Urban Bozarth, among others. Jacob was the father of the famous Col. Isaac Ebey who migrated to Washington Territory four years earlier and became the first permanent settler on Whidbey Island. Although some sources include Isaac in the train, he was in Port Townsend at the time that the train departed westward. Indians beheaded him on Whidbey in 1857 and Holden Judson's sister, Lucretia, was a witness to the grizzly affair, just barely escaping to warn the neighbors. Eason Ebey, Isaac's son, eventually married one of Phoebe's daughters, Annie. Urban Bozarth split off from the wagon train to seek gold in southern Oregon but later came back to Whidbey Island and married Isaac's widowed sister Mary, who was also a member of the Ebey Train. We will publish a story about those intermingled families in the next issue of the Journal subscribers edition online.

Goodell family sinks roots
      As with any pioneers of that very early period of the territory, the task of profiling them is often incomplete and the biography is full of gaps because the public record is so spotty. In the Goodell case, we are fortunate to have one source that helps fill in those gaps and provides a nearly complete narrative — Phoebe's book, Ideal Home. We can see from Edward's 1881 letter that he was educated and comfortable with writing, but we have no actual record of his schooling. In those early days through the turn of the century, schools in rural areas were usually conducted in three- or four-month terms during the winter after harvest time was over. Education was a high priority for the Goodell family over at least two generations back. Both his father and mother were well versed in language and may have shared the duties as teacher for their family and their neighbor's children, and education may have been folded into church services in the early years. In J. C. Rathbun's 1895 book, History of Thurston County, Washington from 1845 to 1895, we learn that six families settled near them on the prairie and a schoolhouse was built in 1855.
(Claquato church)
Two views of the Claquato church. This photo courtesy of Karen Rinnert Parsons

      In December 1855, William Bird Goodell was the first of the Goodell children to begin a business independent of the family. He established a stage line between Olympia and Cowlitz Landing, which soon became Warbassport (present-day Toledo), on the Cowlitz River. The stage left Olympia on Tuesdays and Fridays, and provided connections with steamboats that plied between Monticello on the Washington coast and Portland, and then ascended the Cowlitz itself in the early 1860s. The fare for the route south over a very crude and bumpy wagon road was $3.50 to Grand Mound and $10 to Cowlitz Landing, a tidy sum in those days. When they returned, the lumbering coaches and lathered horses pulled up at a stage house where the old Olympia City Hall later stood on what is now North Capitol Way.
      By 1855, the families around Grand Mound realized that they needed some institutions of civilization in the small community and Jotham, as an experienced, educated orator, naturally became the leader. In her book, Goodale-Goodell Forebears, Helena Goodale Hargrave wrote: "He was a well-educated man, a fluent and eloquent speaker; often called on to give orations and speeches. He gave the first 4th of July oration given in Washington Territory." Besides farming, his attention turned to several other government, social and spiritual activities. In My Goodell Family, Ethel Goodell Clark mentioned one of Jotham's skills that has not been noted elsewhere: "Jotham was a surveyor possessing a solar compass, able to run lines in perfect accordance with government surveys." She also wrote that he was a charter member of the Masonic lodge of Olympia when Lodge No. 1 was formed in 1855, but he demitted to Grand Mound, when the third lodge of the territory was formed there in 1857 as an outgrowth of the military lodge formed during the Indian War. Clark also recorded that Jotham was postmaster at Grand Mound from Aug. 13, 1855, to May 2, 1859.
      After two years of building his home and clearing his farmland, Jotham returned to an active role in the church. Jean Bluhm of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Chehalis notes that the genesis of her church was a meeting at Lewis H. Davis's house near Claquato on Oct 6, 1855. That meeting was organized by Jotham and Rev. Dr. George Whitworth. Davis settled there in 1852 and the settlement became known as Davis Prairie. Jotham's family was included in the charter members. In 1858, Davis built the old Claquato church, using lumber from his mill. He deeded it to the Methodists but the Presbyterians also held services there and at the Stearns house until a church building was later erected in Chehalis. Whitworth also founded the Presbyterian church of Olympia in 1854, another church in Portland and the first such church in Seattle, plus 16 more throughout the Pacific Northwest. An Englishman, he migrated here in 1853 from Indiana with his wife in a wagon train, planning to found a Christian college and possibly a Presbyterian colony in the territory.
      In 1883, Whitworth founded the Sumner Academy in Pierce County, 12 miles south of Tacoma, and that school became Whitworth College in 1890. An influx of settlers and the coming of statehood in 1889 contributed to the success of the college, but it nearly failed after the nationwide Depression (starting in 1893) led to the failure of the hops market, one of the most important local crops. During the lean years of the mid-1890s, students often paid in produce and livestock. Whitworth donated money from his accounts while Tacoma meat-packer H.O. Armour donated nearly $100,000 to keep the doors open. In 1899 the trustees bought the mansion and surrounding buildings of real estate developer Allen C. Mason on Tacoma's Inspiration Point. The grounds and portico provided a spectacular view of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Mt. Rainier, and even Mt. Baker and the campus eventually encompassed 14 acres, including dormitories, classrooms, a library and a gymnasium. Financial difficulties persisted, however, and the trustees moved the college to Spokane in 1914.

Claquato and the church
(Claquato church)
This photo of the church was taken many years ago before it was refurbished.

      Claquato is no longer a town, but it is featured on many maps as the site of the 1858 church, three miles southwest of Chehalis. The church is quite an attraction, both because it is the oldest church building still standing in Washington, and because of the architecture, which features a unique crown of thorns on the steeple. It is still used today for special occasions such as the 150th anniversary celebration of the church on Oct. 8-9, 2005. Jean Bluhm has become a respected historian and she has assembled a history room across the road from the church. Whitworth and Jotham Goodell and two other ministers met in Olympia in September 1858 to form the Presbytery of Puget Sound, which eventually covered the whole territory. The minutes of that meeting note the churches in their group and one was the First Presbyterian Church of Grand Mound under the leadership of Jotham W. Goodell. That Grand Mound church was the one that Jotham led at Fort Henness during the war. Before he formed his own college, Whitworth was elected the superintendent of schools of Thurston County and then Seattle. He also served as chief clerk of the Indian Department, participated in several business ventures, and was named the third president of the Territorial University of Washington.
      Claquato became an important town for the Goodell family. It served as the Lewis County seat from 1862 to 1873, but faded in importance when the Northern Pacific railroad bypassed it that year. The county seat was then moved three miles east to Chehalis, which was originally named Saundersville for settler Schuyler S. Saunders, who had a donation claim there. After feeling frustrated that the gravelly soil on his land at Grand Mound did not produce the crops he wanted, Holden Judson moved his family and his parents to Claquato two years after the couple originally settled at Grand Mound. They traded their property with a man who was interested in stock raising. The new Claquato property had much better farmland on silt that had been deposited for ages by the Chehalis River, and it soon produced fine overabundant crops of hay, oats, and alfalfa. But ultimately, both Holden and Phoebe and his parents sold their farms and moved to the Olympia area because the farm work was very labor intensive and the area was still so remote that farmers there had no cost-efficient way of transporting the surplus grain until the first railroad came in 1873. Since they were located on the river bottomlands, that location also led to their move because the area flooded so much that they often lost the boat that was tied to their porch. In 1857, after the Indian War, Davis commissioned Henry Noble Stearns (also Henry H. in some records) to plat the town of Claquato on the Davis property; and he filed the plat in 1859. Stearns would soon join the extended Goodell family. A road near the church is still named for Stearns.

Endnotes from above
Nathan Edwards Goodell
      His full name was Nathan Edwards Goodell, the Edwards being a family surname. But he is usually referred to in records and history books as Edward Goodell or N. Edward, so we will use that name from here on out. That is our policy: to help readers who want to research further, by using the name that they should search for. Meanwhile, you can read our extensive profile of him at this Journal site. [Return]

Williams book
      George E. Williams. Genealogy of Descendants of Robert Goodale/Goodell. W. Hartford, Conn: Self-published, 1984. We do not yet know the relationship to the Goodell family of the late Mr. Williams, who apparently passed away sometime in the past ten years. We have only received excerpts about particular family members. Descendants have mixed feelings about his work, noting many errors in spelling of names and dates. That is understandable, however, when a person worked on such a far-flung family, and encountered so many spellings in handwritten documents, especially in the days before access to the Internet. Several family members have praised his detailed observations on the variations of the spelling of Goodell. We hope that one of his descendants will read this and give us more information about the man and this vital book for study of the family. Also see James McGill's research into Timothy Goodale, who blazed the Goodale Cutoff trail in the Mountain States for pioneers on their way west: website. [Return]

My Goodell Family
      This book is an unpublished manuscript written by the late Ethel Goodell Clark in 1978. Ethel obviously conducted extensive research into the family heritage as well as recording oral history and we are indebted to her for the details she provided to help link family members and events. She explained that there are many variations of the spelling of the Goodell name, both in the U.S. and England, including variants such as Godelle, Goodall and Goodale. The later spelling was also adopted by various descendants in the U.S. but the spelling returned to Goodell by the line of Jotham Weeks Goodell. An ancestor named Baptiste Godelle was associated with William Shakespeare at the Blackfriars theater in London. He was a descendant of the family from France that fled because of persecution of the Huguenots. The U.S. branch descends from Robert and Catherine (Kilham) Goodell who set sail on the Elizabeth from Ipswitch, Suffolk County, England, and arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, in May 1634. Jotham is of the 7th generation in America. He descended from a long line of Congregational ministers, including his father, William Goodell, who moved his family from Marlborough, Massachusetts, to Templeton, where Jotham was born. Ethel descends from Jotham's fifth child, Melancthon Zwingle (biblical first name, middle name for a preacher of the day). Melancthon and his wife, Rebecca, had eight children, including Charles William. Charles and his wife,. Jennie (Divilbiss), had three children and Ethel May was the baby of the family, born Oct. 28, 1895, in Elma, Washington. We do not have her death date. [Return]

Phoebe Goodell Judson's book
      Phoebe Goodell Judson. A Pioneer's Search for an Ideal Home. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984, originally published 1925) The paperback edition is more easily found today and that is the edition from which I quote. Paperbacks can be purchased at the Lynden Pioneer Museum. Original editions are available in some used-book stores such as Michael's in Bellingham. [Return]

David L. Bigler
      David L. Bigler. A Winter with the Mormons, The 1852 Letters of Jotham Goodell, Salt Lake City, Utah: The Tanner Trust Fund, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, 2001. [Return]

George Bush
      Several sources refer to him as George Washington Bush, but the experts at the Lewis County Historical Society informed us that there is no documentary evidence that Washington was his middle name. Perhaps he adopted that middle name after settling in the territory or perhaps an early writer added it. [Return]

The Vermilion Wagon Train Diaries
      Anna Maria (Pelton) Goodell. "The Vermilion Wagon Train Diaries, 1854" is a part of Kenneth L. Holmes, editor. Covered Wagon Women, Volume 7. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1987. [Return]

1895History of Thurston County
      J. C. Rathbun. History of Thurston County, Washington from 1845 to 1895. Olympia: 1895. You can find this book in libraries and occasionally in a used-book store. Rathbun was the editor of The Paladium, which was presumably a newspaper at Olympia. You can also read excerpts on the web, which were electronically transcribed in June 2000 by Edward Echtle. [Return]

William Bird Goodell's stage line
      Gordon Newell. So Fair a Dwelling Place: A History of Olympia and Thurston County Washington. Olympia: Olympia News Publishing, 1950. You can find this book in libraries and occasionally in a used-book store. You can also read excerpts on the web at: this site, which was electronically transcribed in June 2000 by Edward Echtle. [Return]

Helena Goodale Hargrave
      Goodell descendant Karen Rinnert Parsons introduced us all to another important source, Goodale-Goodell Forebears, compiled by Helena Goodale Hargrave in 1971 and revised in 1975/76. Karen explains: "Mrs. Hargrave sent me her last remaining copy, and has some additional notes in it that the earlier copies do not have." She lived in Walnut Creek, California, and died in March 1982. Mrs. Hargrave's sister-in-law [unnamed] was head of the Genealogy/History section at the Sea Library in the late 1970s-80s and added it to the collection under Dewey number 929.2. Mrs. Hargrave descended from another branch of the family from Jotham. Robert Goodell, the original family immigrant had two sons who have descendants down through today. She descended from son Isaac Goodale. Jotham descended from son Zachariah Goodell. The variations of spelling of the name requires a lot of reading to understand. You can find another copy of the book at the fine Heritage Quest Research Library, A Genealogy Library and Bookstore, in Sumner. [Return]

      Continue on to part two of the Goodell family story, which begins with the Indian War of 1855-56 and then — Jotham's death; family members find new homes; Phoebe finally finds her Ideal Home and becomes the "mother of Lynden;" Col. James A. Patterson and the connection to impeached president Johnson. This story will soon be changed to this address. If neither file connects, please email us.

Links, background reading and sources
      We especially want to thank the historical experts at the Lewis County Historical Society and Museum. We asked Clark McAbee, the director, to submit our draft manuscript to history experts in Lewis County and they provided many suggestions and corrections that helped us insure accuracy. Clark is assisted by Karen Johnson, and volunteer historians Margaret Shields and Margaret Langus operate the research library, where they have volunteered four days a week for more than twenty years. We strongly suggest that you check in there, in the former Northern Pacific Railway depot located in Chehalis, Washington, whenever you visit the area. Their advice and the advice from the Goodell descendants and from Mary Michaelson has made this a collaborative venture and we hope we can correct the record in some places where we have found inaccurate details. (Update 2011: McAbee has been appointed the director of the Skagit County Historical Society museum in LaConner, in October 2011.)
      Mary Michaelson strongly recommends two books that will supply a lot of background on Phoebe and Judson's trip west on the Oregon Trail:

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