Biography of Moses H. Goodwin

The history of mankind is replete with illustrations of the fact that it is only under the pressure of adversity and the stimulus of opposition that the best and strongest in men are brought out and developed. Perhaps the history of no people so forcibly impresses one with this truth as the annals of our own republic: and certainly in our own land the palm must be awarded to New England’s sturdy sons. If anything can inspire the youth of our country to persistent, honorable and laudable endeavor it should be the life record of such men as he of whom we write. The example of the illustrious few of our countrymen who have risen from obscurity to the highest positions in the gift of the nation serves often to awe our young men rather than to inspire them to emulation, because they reason that only a few can ever attain such eminence; but the history of such men as M. H. Goodwin proves conclusively that with a reasonable amount of mental and physical power success is bound, eventually, to crown the endeavors of those who have the ambition to put forth their best efforts, and the will and manliness to persevere therein.

The history of the Goodwin family shows that four brothers of the name, natives of England, crossed the Atlantic and located in New Hampshire. Aaron Goodwin, the grandfather of our subject, sailed with Paul Jones, the renowned naval hero who won fame in the American service during the war of the Revolution. Aaron Goodwin was twice taken prisoner by the British during the war, but when released loyally returned to his duty as a defender of the colonies. His son, Moses Goodwin, was born in New Hampshire and married Hannah Ricker, whose father was also in the naval service, on the ship commanded by Paul Jones. The parents of our subject were industrious farming people and were members of the Baptist church. The father resided upon his farm in the old Granite state until twenty-one years of age, when he removed to Maine, where his death occurred, in the seventy-seventh year of his age. His wife lived to be more than eighty years of age. In his early life he was a Whig, and on the dissolution of that party, being a lover of liberty and opposed to every form of oppression, he joined the newly organized Republican Party.

Moses Hubbard Goodwin was the sixth in order of birth in a family of seven children who reached mature years, five of the number yet living. He was born in Waldo County, Maine, December 29, 1834, and was reared on his father’s farm, assisting in the labors of the fields through the summer months, while in the winter season he pursued his education in the schools of the neighborhood. When seventeen years of age he learned the carpenter’s trade, and after working for a year in Boston went to Minnesota, where he was employed for two years. He next went to Mississippi, where he remained until the breaking out of the war. An attempt was made to force him into the rebel army, and this being contrary to his wishes he left for the north. Having, however, contracted a severe cold which settled on his lungs, he decided to go to California, hoping thereby to benefit his health. He sailed from New York on the 20th of October 1861, and reached San Francisco after a voyage of twenty-two days. He was soon able to resume work at his trade, and was thus engaged through the winter. In the spring the news of the discovery of gold at Auburn, Oregon, led him to start for that place, but on reaching Portland he learned that the reports of rich finds were largely exaggerated, and accordingly he remained in Portland, where he was employed from December until June by the Oregon Navigation Company in building steamboats. The Boise basin gold excitement then brought him to Idaho, where he arrived in July, 1863, before the territory was organized.

To some extent Mr. Goodwin engaged in mining, but there was a great demand for carpentering, and he resumed work at his trade, receiving eight dollars per day for his services. He aided in the erection of the Mammoth Quartz Mill, the second mill of the kind in the state, and built, in 1864, the first water wheel of any size in Idaho, thirty feet in diameter. The following year he assisted in building the Elkhorn Mill, and in the fall of 1865 was engaged to superintend the Mammoth Mill and the interests of the company, occupying that position for two years. On the expiration of that period he became a part owner in the mill and continued in charge until 1870, meeting with excellent success in his undertakings; but his health failed him in that high altitude and he removed to Payette, where he purchased an interest in a band of cattle and a farm. There, in addition to looking after the stock, he also followed carpentering until his return to the east.

On the 4th of July 1876. Mr. Goodwin was united in marriage to Miss Emma Frances Burdge. Their wedding journey consisted of a visit to the Centennial Exposition, in Philadelphia, and a trip to his old home in Maine to see his aged mother and to visit the scenes and friends of his youth. The following spring they returned to Idaho, locating in Boise, and to them has been born a daughter, Mabel C, who is now the wife of R. \”. Stone. Mr. Stone is now engaged as Mr. Goodwin’s city manager for the lumber business.

In 1877, after his return from the east, Mr. Goodwin purchased and put in operation a planing-machine, which he later incorporated in the sawmill which he now owns. In 1883 he purchased the water power and the mill site, the latter consisting of four acres. Since that time he has carried on an extensive lumber business. For some time he had the only planer and im-proved machinery in that line in the city and was the only manufacturer of doors, sash and blinds. He cuts his pine lumber in the mountains, supplies his home demands, and carries on two lumber yards and offices in Boise. He is a very enterprising and progressive businessman, and these qualities have gained him a well merited prosperity.

Mr. Goodwin is not only a leader in industrial circles, but is also a man of much prominence in political affairs, and has been potent in molding public thought and feeling. He is a stanch Re-publican, unwavering in support of the principles of his party. He was twice a member of the territorial legislature, and has twice been elected and served as a member of the County board of commissioners, of which he has been chairman. In political thought and action he has always been independent, carrying out his honest views without fear or favor. In business he has achieved success through honorable effort, untiring industry and capable management, and in private life he has gained that warm personal regard which arises from true nobility of character, deference for the opinions of others, kindliness and geniality.



Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

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