Goodrich’s first marriage was to Serena Jennie Connett on 24 August 1869. She was the daughter of Ira J. Connett (1812-1894) and Mary C. Wiggins (1813-1865) of Indian Hill, Hamilton County, Ohio. “Jennie” was the youngest of the Connett’s six children. She was born 27 February 1850, making her only 19 years old when she married Goodrich. She died in Little Rock on September 14, 1870 at the age of twenty, just three months after giving birth to her only child.
The picture at right is believed to be of Jennie Connett, taken when she was about eighteen. It remain unidentified in the Goodrich Collection at the Arkansas Historical Archives in Little Rock. It is possible, though considered less likely, that the image is of Goodrich’s cousin — Lucy Stratton — with whom Goodrich corresponded and is known to have exchanged photographs.
LITTLE ROCK, Aug. 27, 1870
DIED. – We are pained to learn of the death of the wife of R.L. Goodrich, Deputy Clerk in the United States Court, who passed away at one o’clock to-day. Mrs. Goodrich for three months has been a great sufferer, and has borne up under a painful disease with great fortitude and patience. She longed to go home to her friends, and at intervals would sigh for relief from pain – and the kind Heavenly Father heard her sighing and gave her rest.
Jennie’s five siblings were:
- Christiana Connett, b. June 1835; she married Louis Finch, a fruit farmer in Hamilton County, Ohio.
- Mary Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) Connett, b. 12 August 1837; she married Charles H. Cole of Canada. Charles was born about 1836, the eldest son of Ann and Edward C. Cole — natives of England but living in Cincinnati OH in 1850. Cole died sometime prior to 1878 and Lizzie took Daniel S. Logan (1824-1897) as her second husband.
- Thomas J. Connett, b. 16 Dec 1839; Thomas enlisted in Company C, 2nd Ohio Infantry in September 1861. It is believe that he was wounded in skirmishes with Kentucky confederates at West Liberty, KY, or at Piketon, KY. He died 12 Nov 1861 at Licking Station (now Salyersville), KY.
- Sarah A. Connett, b. 5 Mar 1842. Nothing more found.
- William Marshall Connett, b. 26 Feb 1848, d. 5 May 1849.
The following letters between Goodrich and Jennie, with his family, and his in-laws, provide some insight into Goodrich’s first marriage.
Letter Number ?
Goodrich writes to Jennie Connett some ten weeks prior to their marriage.
Little Rock, Arkansas
June 12, 1869
Wie ghates? Comment vous portez-vous? Wie befinden Sie dieses aber? All Dutch or something else. I am tired or confoundedly lazy. I think I have the consumption or the Spring Fever, but probably both. I can wake up writing almost any time. I thought of going out tonight, and then I thought I wouldn’t because I want to finish 2d Volume Kent to take it out tomorrow.
I am as lonesome as — well let’s see…as a tree frog up a tree, in a swamp when all the other tree-frogs are either drowned or gone away. Don’t you feel sorry for me? I know you don’t. Well I didn’t mean that exactly, but I mean, I guess you do. This short epistle, this closing up of accounts of a Saturday evening is to let you know that I am unwell and unhappy, and hope you are enjoying the same blessings. That is the usual phrase, is it? If it is I don’t believe it, and I hope I may be kicked by a dead mule if ever I shall hope you to be either unwell or unhappy.
What’s the difference twixt tweedledum and tweedledee? I’ll bet a pocket-full of pea-nuts that you can’t tell. Will you take the bet? Of course you will when you get the pea-nuts.
Cole is diligently studying Theology, and George Davis chirography. I saw George turn a back summersault, and while elevated, Cole jumped through the legs of a chair which was dancing about, and caught Davis by the legs, and both stood on nothing.
My ink is bad, my pen is broke. I’ve got to the end of my paper, & I’m about to choke. Ain’t that poetry? Yours, — Ralph
Letter Number 566
Jennie Connett writes to Goodrich about seven weeks before their marriage. It seems clear that Jennie was living with her sister Lizzie, the wife of Charles H. Cole. Apparently a house servant named Tom lived with the Cole family.
July 7, 1869
Now I will write you the letter I promised last evening — the one I commenced yesterday I did not like. It is about four o’clock and I have just finished dressing after washing the clothes and I feel so tired. I have read those pieces you wanted me to read. I think them very good. I suppose [my sister] Lizzie thinks I am asleep for she don’t know what I am doing.
The painter has been at your house all day. Have you seen them yet? At noon when they went away, Tom let the windows be just as the men left them — half way up and the shutters open, and come in to his dinner.
Lizzie says [her husband] Charles advised you not to let that brother of Redmond’s stay with you. I am glad he thinks that way about it. I wouldn’t have him about me (if I was in your place) if it did make Mr. R[edmond] angry. And don’t you let him (Mr. R[edmond]) get any hold on you so you will have to stay [in Little Rock] whether you want to or not.
It is so warm in here I feel as if I was roasting. Next Sunday, if it is pleasant, I want to go out on the hill back here and get some blackberrys if you can go with me. I don’t think I will go to church.
Well, I can’t think of anything more to write this time. I am well but only my mouth. Please excuse mistakes.
Ever yours, — Jennie Connett
Ever of thee I’m fondly dreaming.
Letter Number ?
Jennie Connett writes to Goodrich about five weeks prior to their marriage.
July 16, 1869
My Dearest Ralph,
I have just finished writing two letters, one to [my sister] Sallie, the other to [sister] Christiana, and now I will try and write one for you. I am sitting by my window, almost melting, it is so very warm, but you know I wouldn’t dare let [my sister] Lizzie know to whom I am writing to. She thinks I have not finished the other letters.
We didn’t get any dinner today as Tom was not here. And I haven’t done one bit of serving today. I do feel so lazy, I hardly know what to do. Lizzie and I have been talking about what we would be obliged to have to go to housekeeping with and naming over what I already have at home [in Ohio], and by doing as I said last night, getting a small house, it wouldn’t cost more _____.
Now I will tell you a good joke on myself. Do you think that good for nothing cat was shut up in the bottom of my trunk all night? This morning Lizzie heard it, and said it must surely be in there, but I said it couldn’t be. So she opened the trunk and out jumped the cat.
And don’t you think Carl got after the deer? And it was all we could do to make him let it alone. Lizzie hit him with a great stick of wood and I tried to hit him with rocks, but couldn’t throw crooked enough.
You don’t know, Ralph, how glad I am to think you love me so much, and I told you the other evening the oftener I see you, and the longer I am with you, the more I love you. You don’t know how sad it makes me when I think e may not get to go home [to Ohio] next month, but we will have to trust to luck.
Now I will quit writing for the want of something more to write. No more this time. Forever thine, — Jennie C.
Letter Number ?
Jennie Connett writes to Goodrich about three weeks before their marriage.
July 30, 1869
My Dearest Ralph,
As I have nt written to you for some time, I will now try and write a short letter. The band is playing and it is not a very easy task to write, think, and listen to music at the same time. I tell you it is very nice indeed to sit by the window and hear it. I do not know the reason, but for a few days when I hear it, it makes me feel so sad I can hardly keep from crying. O Ralph, if you only knew how I do feel. But it is no use, it can’t be helped. I will get over it soon, I hope.
[My sister] Lizzie and I each wrote a letter to [our sister] Christiana. Have you answered your Mother’s letter yet?
I finished my new dress. I am not going to make the purple one this summer.
Well Ralph, it is getting too dark to write. So I will have to quit writing for this time. I remain as ever, yours only, — Jennie Connett
From one who loves you dearly.
Letter Number 571
Jennie Connett writes to Goodrich less than three weeks before their marriage.
August 5, 1869
My Dearest Loved one,
I believe I will try and write you a long letter this time for I have been studying about something to write all the afternoon. Well, we have put up nine quarts of fruit today, and [my sister] Lizzie has bot been well either; seven of tomatoes, and two water melon preserves. I want you to see them. Well we found out what become of that woman. That darkie took her to the Convent.
You don’t know how much I do miss my kiss this morning, and Lizzie is so very cross this evening. I don’t know how it will be tonight but hope she will get over being so.
You said my last letter was not so loving. I have often told you I could not tell you how much I love you. The reason is because I do not know how much I do love you, and I am not used to writing love letters as I never wrote a very loveing one. But Ralph, I do love you more than anything or any person in the world. I am sure you know that I don’t care much for money, don’t you?
You have been spoiling me for the last three or four weeks, and tomorrow night I will be so lonely I won’t know what to do. Well, I can’t write any more tonight. So good night.
Yours forever, — Jennie Connett
Letter Number 114
Charles H. Cole writes his brother-in-law Ralph L. Goodrich from his Deputy U.S. Marshal office in Little Rock AR informing him that the former slaves of Sarah Adamson whom he took under his care in exchange for domestic services have created some difficulty. Presumably Goodrich turned them out prior to his leaving to go to Ohio to be married. Cole also asks Goodrich to secretly shop for a new residence for Cole, knowing that his wife is not happy about living in Little Rock.
United States Marshal’s Office
Eastern District of Arkansas
Little Rock, Ark.
August 31, 1869
Yours from Memphis rec’d and I hope you will convince [your wife] Jennie that she will never regret the new state in which she entered. [My wife] Lizzie will write today. Your idiotic prank has caused somewhat of a stir and the Nigger portion of your late family have raised Hell here, followed me all over town with a big negro policeman, and had been to see [my wife] Lib when I got home and she stood in the door at the house with my derringer and gave the “nigs” a minute to leave, which they did. I gave them the things and they have not bothered me since.
I want you if Robert’s place is not for sale, to see and get a description of places for sale on the hill, terms and prices, acres and improvements. I do this because Lizzie will leave here in November with me for home and ere I get there I desire to purchase so Jennie and her can live together and be company in their widowhood. Keep this letter quietly to yourself, make all inquiries as for yourself, and be sure and look well for me. See DeMar, John Rawlings, and Elias Muchman of Madison — Ambrose Flinn and others who know about places. N. S. Armstrong at Pineville may tell you something.
Now keep quiet and all will be well. Yours, — Charles H. Cole
Letter Number 116
Mary Ann Goodrich writes her son Ralph Goodrich and his wife Jennie Connett a couple of weeks after they are married on 25 August 1869. When this letter was written, Ralph’s sister Augusta Griffing was visiting from Kansas with her four children.
Owego [New York]
September 8, 1869
My dear children,
Yours was received yesterday when I was looking for you to come on the cars. I am disappointed. I was in hopes that you would come. Our house is pretty full but we would have made room for you. Well, we hope to see you sometime. And if you come to Cincinnati and have a home there and do well, I think you will come here and we shall go and see you. Mr. Bristol, our nearest neighbor, has a son in Cincinnati. His name is W. H. Bristol, and I suppose you have a cousin by the name of [Orlando] Saltmarsh. I believe he is in a Telegraph Office.
I am glad that you are enjoying your visit and that you are having a rest, and have plenty of fruit. I would like some of your peaches. We have a few pears this summer. Peaches are $3.50 to $4.00 per bushel. We have apples but the grapes will not ripen. We have had a cold summer and cool nights now, and will probably have frosts soon.
[Your brother] Stephen is not doing as much business this summer as he did last summer. He has one hired man and a boy. He keeps 5 horses with Prince. One we call Bess has been lame nearly all summer. She is getting better. We have 6 cows and it is hard to do the work for so many. We have a girl we have taken. She helps us a good deal. [Your sister] Sarah is not very well this summer.
The reason [your sister] Mary did not write was because she was not here that day. She and [her daughter] Fanny come up quite often. Yesterday [your sister] Augusta and I went down to Leland’s and made a visit. Lee works hard and is not very well and begins to look old. His wife is a smart, profitable woman. I believe I have written so before.
Little Maty Griffing [Augusta’s daughter] has been quite sick with fever but is getting better.
I write this to Jenny as well as yourself and hope you will both write before you leave for Little Rock. Please excuse this. I am not feeling verry well, or do not feel like writing.
I am your affectionate mother.
Ralph, I am very glad that you are married. You have someone to care for you and if you are sick that will care for you. And I hope you will make her a good husband. Be kind and pleasant if you want a good wife. I hope you will always be happy is the prayer of your mother. Write us again before you go back [to Little Rock] and after you get back.
Letter Number 118
Lizzie Cole, Ralph’s sister-in-law, writes to Ralph and Jennie Goodrich in Little Rock AR. In this letter, Lizzie encourages Goodrich to relocate from Little Rock AR to Cincinnati OH.
December 22, 1869
Dear Sister & Brother,
After waiting more than a week to get everything ready that we want to send you & this morning finding that it will take a day or two yet I have concluded to write & let you know that we are still in the land of the living & enjoying good health, but such awful weather – rain, snow & mud, then rain again. And Painesville is the same old place. We have been visiting Lewis. All quite well but Lew, and he is better. I hear that Nellie’s family are well & we expect them down Christmas. Jennie, you must not get homesick. Charlie will be in Little Rock in February & then if you feel like coming home, why not come in March? But you must let me know before he starts for we want to send you some things by him. You will find enough new ticking in the box to make new pillows for the others are awful dirty.
I hope that our place is sold soon for we are anxious to buy the Norcross Place. Cincinnati is running over with Christmas fixing. We will send you something. I hardly know what yet but we will make them. I have a sewing machine & 3 new dresses. I will send you a piece when I cut them out. Charlie got Sallie Hughes a 2 ct of yard dress yesterday it is double width will send you a piece & the children…
Ralph, if you were here you could be yourself rich in a little time. Several large stores are selling out & there is plenty of small farms for sale. When you sell your place, you will have no trouble finding another up here & all are anxious for you to settle here. You seem to be quite a favorite. Ralph, Charlie says there is 7 acres adjoining the Norcross Place opposite Varney’s belonging to an Armstrong girl that can be bought cheap & if you want it & will hurry up the men about selling ours, he will buy it & keep it for you & the Norcross house is large so that if you wish to send Jennie home next summer, it will be for all & then we can be near neighbors. Lew’s family all think it would suit you better than H. Finches & in 2 or 3 years with Father help you could have it as nice as any of them. Now I will quit for this time & write again soon & I wish to hear from you often. Give my kind regards to all my friends. Carrie sends love to both of you & also a kiss. Charlie & I send love & remain as ever your loving & well wishing brother & sister.
— Charlie & Lizzie Cole
[P.S.] Jennie, I think I lost my silver breastpin in room 4 [at the] Anthony House [in Little Rock]. Please describe it to Ralph & get him to enquire of Mr. Henry if such has been found & you will greatly oblige, — Lizzie Cole
Letter Number 89
Charles H. Cole write to Goodrich from Painsville, Ohio. It appears from this letter that Cole may have lost a hand and part of his arm during the Civil War — perhaps in the Battle of Arkansas Post where he served as a Sergeant in Co. B of the 83rd Ohio Infantry. In June 1863, he was promoted to Captain of Company C in the First Regiment Tennessee Colored Heavy Artillery garrisoned at Fort Pickering guarding Memphis, TN. As was customary during the Civil War, all of the officers of this black regiment were white.
Painesville, Hamilton Co., Ohio
December 29, 1869
I promised a letter to you ere this but, I have, from the change in the nature of my associations and the manifold attractions at home almost forgotten to write to any body. But how goes it [with] you. I am here safe and unsound. Rheumatism — the old devil — has me tight and hard. My legs still are a “power of trouble” as Paddy [Lee] would say, and I am only partially comforted by the absence of shakes, which I would rather have remained had the nervous pains in my limbs only departed instead.
We are all happy and well, and like ants in their holes, living in the accumulation of a summer’s plenty. Buckwheat cakes and syrup, fresh sausage meat of our own putting up and fresh butter. Good living to match. All being taken with a relish unknown to the very unfortunate Southron. While the thermometer is this morning one degree below zero, and the roads so slippery and frozen on the hills that rough shod horses have to slide and stumble so that it makes it doubtful whether a life insurance policy could be taken out for a denizen of this frozen country at this time. Christmas I spent at mother’s and New Year will be spent at home “in the bosom of my family” — the wife’s up till 7 in the morning, as a sure thing.
I have not found your relation yet, but have indited an epistle of inquiry that if it meets his eye, may give me the means of finding him. The city is dull — always is at this time of the year — and I shall be quiet for some time till I get well, ere I suppose its mazy labrinths after a fortune. I have fixed on a place to buy. [I] go to town tomorrow to see the owner and will get on it as soon as I can make the trade.
Then look at those fully formed digitals, the exquisitely moulded hand and the wounded arm of make ala Little Rock, of which I am the proud possessor. No more, but replaced will be the rough and nigged paw of the woodchopper and plowboy and the brawny arm of the smith (not John).
Oh, what a metamorphosis I am going to make (in speculation). It may be I will change my notion with the first cold day of work in the trees, or the first drag from daylight to dark after the plow. Who knows. Yet, I freeze not one of my visions so often portrayed to you. Not a jot or tillie do I leave to the winds but cherish all as a miser and make my plans accordingly.
So all right. Now how about Lusk. Do you hear from Mike since. Who, what, and how have you seen the old spots of our recollection. Let me have the names, descriptions, and catalog of all the changes and actions before and behind the curtain.
I write no more now, and await your early answer. My ever true friend, — Charles H. Cole
Letter Number 129
Mary Ann Goodrich writes her son Ralph Goodrich and his wife Jenny from Owego NY giving all the hometown news.
Owego, [New York]
March 13, 1870
My dear children,
Yours was received in due time and as I have just written my weekly letter to [your sister] Augusta, I will commence writing to you, and may finish it if I am not too tired. We are having snow – snow nearly all the time. We have had rather a stormy winter. In the fall and first of winter, we had rain – rain nearly every day – and everyone was wishing for snow. Now it has commenced to snow, it snows. And when it commences to thaw, if we should have a hard rain, we shall have a flood. I dread the spring freshets.
The men that are at work on the new railroad are still getting gravel from [your brother] Stephen’s sank bank. They have uncovered considerable sand for him, but there is not much market for sand now. There is not much building going on as yet except the new Methodist Church. They are getting ready to go to work as soon as they can. Stephen has had 100 loads of sand drawn there. The church is going to be nearly opposite where Mr. James Bishop lives – very near where that pond used to be. That pond is filled up and a street through and houses on each side. It is a pleasant street.
It is the 13th [of March] today. 15 years ago today, [your brother] James first left home for Kansas. Your Aunt Mary is no better and may not ever be. They take her up and set her in a chair and then she can put her food to her mouth. They have to be up with her considerable nights. She cannot move in bed much and it is a good deal to take care of her.
Mr. Burt, your old teacher, is dead. He died of consumption. He was in the grocery business. He took colds – one after another – and it seated on his lungs. He had quick consumption. Stephen says the last time he saw him, he enquired about you.
Your Aunt Lucy [Fiddis] has rented her house and is getting ready to go to Galesburg as soon as she can. Have I written to you that [her son-in-law] John [Griffith] has had a call to San Francisco to preach, that John has and wants to go. [He will] start by the 28 of this month, but he wants your Aunt to get there [to Galesburg] before he goes. They have offered him 4000 dollars in gold a year and more if he thinks that is not enough and to bear his expenses going and coming, and they can all go the way of the railroad. [Your cousin] Lucy is going to board at Mrs. Studman’s. It will be farther for her to walk to [her] school, but if she feels well, it will not be far.
What county is Little Rock in? We do not know much about your [old] friends. Stephen says he thinks Johnson is in Chicago. They are married and gone from here, the most of them. I have had 2 or 3 letters from Glastonbury [Connecticut] lately. My Uncle Noah Tryon, my mother’s brother, is dead. He was 83 years old and a grandchild of his died a week before he did. Carry’s father and mother was here last winter on a visit. Carry died the same day of the month they started to come here, just one year before.
[Your mother, — Mary Ann Goodrich]
Letter Number 130
Mary Ann Goodrich writes her son Ralph Goodrich and his wife Jenny from Owego NY giving all the hometown news.
Owego [New York]
[Sunday] April 10, 1870
My Dear Children,
I owe each of you a letter and will answer both in one. We are very glad to hear from you and hope you will write often to us. The last 2 or 3 weeks have been rather exciting ones. First, we had such a deep snow – 3 feet deep – and when it began to melt the water was so deep in the roads, and it came round cold and we had another foot of snow. It has nearly all left us now. We can see a few snow drifts and we have not had a high freshet. We moved everything out of our cellar that we could, but it was only a foot deep. It has been very bad traveling.
Your Aunt Lucy [Fiddis] has broke up housekeeping and has been here part of the time and in the Village. [Your cousin] Lucy is going to board with Mrs. Steadman and your Aunt is there some of the time. Lucy has been teaching the last week. The week before she bought a ticket for her mother to Quincy [IL] and can sell it at Galesburg for a few dollars and got it cheaper there than she could have bought it here. I do not know the reason that [your cousin] Lucy does not write to you, but think perhaps she does not have time. She likes to hear from us about you.
Your Aunt Lucy Berry is very low, if living. She had a stroke of palsy last week and has had no use of her left side since. And yesterday her right side was getting numb. She is 82 years old. Her second daughter Eliza, who married a Mr. Vandenburg, is a widow and is living with her.
We have heard that Esq. [Nathaniel] Davis is not doing much business. He has been quite unwell all winter and thinks he is not going to live long. Did I write you Esq. Sweet died very sudden a year ago? That may have some effect on Davis. [Your cousins] George & Edwin Stratton have a store with Dr. Stansborough in the hardware business.
I thought I had written you about this new railroad. I believe it is called the Southern Tier. It is finished from Owego to Auburn. Several trains go out every day on that road. I do not know how far south it is going. It goes through our lot this side of the other road and it takes 2 acres. They pay 200 dollars an acre. They have dug a ditch each side through our lot to raise the track, and have taken a great deal of gravel from [your brother] Stephen’s sand bank to make the road.
We have one of Lew Brinks’ girls living with us. She has been here 2 years and is good help for us. She is nearly 14 years old. I expect to have her stay till she is 18 years old, if I live so long.
[Your brother] Stephen has bought a house and lot on Talcott Street. [He] paid 1000 dollars for it. He bought it to get his pay of a man that was owing him 3 or 400 dollars, and I have let him have the 400 I got of the railroad to help him pay for it.
[Your sister] Mary and her family were here yesterday. She has a very pretty babe. He is 5 months old. She says he carnt be beat. He is so good natured, he hardly ever cries.
Ralph, do you read a good deal and what do you read? What new books have you? Stephen gave [your sister] Sarah Vashti [or “Until Death Us Do Part”] by Miss Augusta Evans [for] Christmas. Have you ever read it? Did you ever read Sydnie Adriance; Or, Trying the World, [by Amanda M. Douglas] — that Lucy book. It is very good. The last 2 weeks we have had two papers from you – weeklies. I noticed a piece in one on Woman’s Rights. I thought it very good, signed by Jenny. I will send last week’s [Owego] Gazette to you with this.
In our big snowstorm, [your cousin] George Stratton started out for a ride on the cars on the new road. It snowed when he started but he did not think it would snow much. He was gone 2 days & 2 nights and did not go very far either. He wrote a piece for the Times. I have cut it out of Lee’s paper and will send it in this. Sarah has sent Jenny a tidy in a large envelope. Have you received it? Do you remember [your cousin] Jamie Goodrich? He made us a short visit a week or two ago. He is what they call a drummer. He is employed by the firm of Day, Bliss & Dean, Manufacturers of Jewelry, chains & bracelets. He travels 3 weeks in 4. Has all this state except Utica. He is married to Mary [Palmer] Sherman of Norwich.
This new railroad is called the New York Southern Central. It comes from Sodus Bay on Lake Ontario and goes to Waverly & connects with the Towanda road and the coal region. Your Aunt Lucy came over from church with Stephen and staid till evening when Stephen took her and her trunk over. She will start Tuesday morning.
I have written you that Rev. John Griffith, [your cousin] Anna’s husband, has received a call to San Francisco and has gone to see how he likes it. He left Galesburg 2 weeks ago today and arrived there Saturday. On the way he wrote 2 letters to [your Aunt] Lucy and wrote every day to Anna. He had a pleasant trip. They offered him 4000 dollars in gold and to have his expenses going and coming. He has been there 2 Sundays. He expects to be 5 or 6 weeks and if they go, your aunt will too.
Your Aunt [Lucy] Berry was alive yesterday. With love to the both of you.
I am, your affectionate Mother.
Letter Number 132
Mary Ann Goodrich writes her son Ralph Goodrich and his wife Jenny from Owego NY giving all the hometown news.
Owego [New York]
May 7, 1870
My dear children,
I have been expecting a letter from you a long time, but as none has come I will write today. [Your sister] Sarah received one from Jenny and has been saying she must answer it, and she will as soon as she thinks she can, but it takes her a long time sometimes to get ready to write. And in the spring of the year, there is so much to do, and we are having considerable company. They commenced cleaning one of the back chambers Friday and before noon we had company – a cousin came and staid till this morning. She has now gone to Leland Goodrich’s & when they commenced cleaning the front chamber they had company before they got finished up. They have 3 or 4 rooms more to clean before they get through. And then there is so much to do outdoors among the flowers and shrubbery.
We have not had but very little warm weather yet [and] are having a backward spring. [Your cousin] Lucy [Fiddis] has not been over here since her mother went away and she has not had but one letter from her or [her sister] Anna. [Anna’s husband,] Mr. Griffith was expected a week ago last Saturday. She ought to hear from them. We do not know whether he is going to San Francisco or not, but hope not. He would get more money there but it is called a hard place. If they go, I should not ever expect to see your Aunt Lucy again.
Aunt Ruth is very sick – Jack’s mother. She was taken a week ago Sunday morning. She has had some kind of a fit. Mr. & Mrs. Lyman Truman have gone on a pleasure excursion west. Emily Gere said last week that she expected they were in Kansas . They thought of sending a dispatch to have them come home, but they are afraid if they do it will effect there mother so that she will be sick and cannot get home. One of the girls stays with there Grandmother all the time and they have two watchers nights. We hear that she is a little better this morning.
[Your cousin] George Stratton went out to his father’s to spend the Sabbath a week ago yesterday. His sister Nancy that married J. Van Kirk has a son. They have been married nearly or quite 15 years and this is there first baby. His father is very poorly. They did not think he would live the week out last week. He has had one fit and I don’t know but more. [Your cousin] David [Stratton] has moved up to Newfield Village and [his brother] Willber works the farm. David & his wife have been quite unwell all winter. They have had rheumatism and Uncle William [Stratton] has been lame so that he has had to have one crutch and a cane to get round in the house.
Your Aunt Lucy Berry died about 2 weeks ago. She had a bout of paralysis and was confined to her bed 3 or 4 weeks. Their daughter Eliza came on and took care of her and is staying with Frank keeping house for him.
[Your sister] Mary and her children were here Saturday. We did not get a letter from [your sister] Augusta last week but suppose there is one on the way. I am sorry they live so far from the [Manhattan] Post Office but hope [her husband] will build a good house and live in it, and not be moving about so much.
If I could get to the [Owego] village, I would get some flower seeds for you, Jenny. We have two teams but one team has to work all the time and the other Prince is lame and Grey has a colt. So we cannot drive either. We receive the Weekly Republican every week. I think it comes from the Office or do you send it? Who is it that writes the pieces signed by Jenny? It is a good paper. I have sent you several [Owego] Gazettes. Do you get them? I sent one with the death of your Aunt Lucy Berry. I will send last weeks. I hope you are both well. All join in love to you.
From your affectionate Mother. Good-bye.
Letter Number 243
Goodrich writes to Lew Finch, his sister-in-law’s husband, from Little Rock, AR. There appear to be one or more pages missing from this copy, which Goodrich apparently kept for himself. It isn’t clear that Goodrich ever sent this version as it is quite critical of Charles H. Cole, his sister-in-law’s husband.
Little Rock, Arkansas
May 15, 1870
Your interesting letter was received a few days ago and I hasten to reply. But come to think. I don’t know what I have to reply to, much less what I have to say, except “howdy” and “purty well I thank ye.”
Our distinguished relative Mr. Charles H. Cole — that high-born gentleman “sans peur et sans reproache,” (that is French and means one who always lives with his wife) — who is not only generous but prompt in executing his contracts, is, I am afraid, about half fool and the other half something worse. I know that the honorable gentleman has been so scrupulously exact (unscrupulously contemptible) in his various transactions to your humble servant, that I am not desirous of incurring or conferring obligations any longer, and the same neighborhood shall not contain us both.
He went home once lean and diseased on account of his superior love for wanton Nymphs du pave, and it is probable that if he lives long enough, he may so the same thing. To use plain words, there is not a black strumpet nor a white prostitute in town or out of it, that is not acquainted with, and knows of their goings and comings. Mr. Mills has no higher or more exalted appreciation of him than I have. Mills has found him to be unscrupulous, and when occasion arises, treacherous.
I am not backbiting for I have told him things even worse than I write. He is fully aware of how little I appreciate him. I wouldn’t trust him with the keeping of a dime’s value of goods, nor with the chastity of my wife. Two people, he heartily notes, because they know him too well, and they are Lew Finch and myself.
Letter Number 133
Christiana Finch, sister of Jenny Goodrich — Ralph’s wife — writes to them from her home near Cincinnati OH. The letter mentions their sister Lizzie who was married to 34-year-old Charles H. Cole. At the time, Cole lived in Little Rock and was lobbying to be named a U.S. Marshal of the new Oklahoma Territory. Christiana was married to Lewis [“Lew”] Finch — a fruit grower with a farm northeast of Cincinnati. According to the book, Cincinnati, the Queen City, 1788-1912 by Charles Frederic Goss and S. J. Clarke, page 400, Lewis Finch “was the originator of the Ives Seedling Grape, Ives Seedling Wine, Finch Prolific Strawberry, and other types of fruit.”
May 23, 1870
Dear sister & brother,
I sit down this P.M. to answer yours of the 15th that we received today….You say you bet I never saw so many darkies as went to the picnic but I’ll bet I did. I was in the city [of Cincinnati] when they had their jubilee over the 15th Amendment. I stood on 4th Street & it took the procession 2 hours to pass where I stood & I never saw a nicer sight – the prettiest large wagons all trimmed of so nice & such good mottoes. The wagons were full of girls & boys & just as pretty Goddesses of Liberty as you ever saw. But enough on the darkie question. Willie was with me.
I am glad to hear you & Ralph are getting along so well but I do hope you both will be satisfied with Little Rock & leave there this fall, never to go back there anymore now. I don’t understand who it is that likes to stay there, Ralph or Charley [Cole], but I suppose it is Charley by Lew’s letter. Sometimes I think Lizzie ought to know how he is doing if she would only believe it. Sometimes she don’t hear from him for two weeks. He says there is no news to write. And since she said she had a great mind to give Ralph the power of attorney to sell her place, I am afraid if he ever gets her money in his hands she will never see it. And then Father will have to work & support her & it is enough for him to support himself. But we will wait a little to see what he does. In his last letter to her, he said if he didn’t get the office of Marshall in that new Territory, he should settle up his business & come right home.
Well Jennie, I wouldn’t care about being down there if you have such shakings of the earth as you tell about. If I had thought about it, I would have sent you a calico dress in that box but I didn’t go to the city & I couldn’t think of anything else to send. I am very anxious to hear how the things went through. I do hope the butter kept all right but I expect it was like oil when you got it. 1 gallon of that wine that Charley gets is for you & if you want more, Lew will send it to you by express. It is $1.75 cts a gallon. I think you will like it.
Charley Metts is married. He married a girl up where they used to live. Her name is Anna Burgher.
Well I have to quit for want of room to write & this is the last sheet. Julia says she will write the last of the week & tell you the rest of the news as I haven’t room. I hope this may find you well.
— C. Finch
Letter Number 135
Mary Ann Goodrich writes her son Ralph Goodrich and his wife Jenny from Owego NY giving all the hometown news. The letter mentions having heard that Ralph and Jenny are new parents. Their daughter, Jennie Edith Goodrich, was born 3 June 1870. This letter includes a short note from Ralph’s sister Sarah as well.
Owego [New York]
June 12, 1870
My dear Ralph & Jenny,
We received yours mailed May 31st Friday and the one mailed June 3rd yesterday. I am very glad that Jenny has got along so well and is comfortable. Now she must be very careful about taking cold. I hope you have a good nurse and she will have good care. I suppose a boy would have suited Ralph better, but you will have to take them as they come, as everybody does, and be satisfied if they are proper children [and] not deformed. Now, after the babe is a few weeks old, you will not have so much time. But you will have something else to look to and amuse yourself with.
I suppose you have had very dry weather. They are fearful that they in Kansas are going to have another draught. [Last spring,] James [Griffing] took nearly a half bushel of Maple seeds to plant out in Kansas. Augusta writes that they came up good but for the want of rain, they are dying. How terrible it is to live in such a dry country. We have plenty of rain and everything is growing finely. Just where we are is not a very good country for fruit. We generally have apples, but not always. We shall have a few pears this year. Our peaches we have to buy. I bought a basketful not near a bushel last fall and gave $3.00 for them. They were very good. Do you have oranges, lemons, & pineapples? And how much do you have to pay? We can buy oranges $1.00 per dozen, pineapples are $4.00 a dozen. They cost too much for me to buy many.
I think Jenny’s sister is very kind. Did she send the box by express? Your family, I think, will be much more expensive now than before the baby came so I fear you will not lay much by. I think you have a great number of books.
[Your cousin] Lucy sends her love to you. She says she does not get much time to read, and when she does, [she does] not read light reading such as novels &c. She thinks you have a good collection and she would like to read some of them. And you have some very costly, that would be costly here. The paper did not come last week but I suppose there is reason for that. You had other business to attend to of more importance.
Do you remember that Mr. Daniel ______ that used to be with Mr. Thurston though lately he has been with with Mr. Moses Kustines [?] in his meat market? He is to be buried this afternoon. He died Friday morning. Rev. George Worthington’s mother died last Saturday morning. She was taken to Batavia Monday to be buried in the Worthington family burying yard. We have had a great many deaths about here this spring. We hear of a funeral nearly every day.
Jenny, you must be very careful about getting cold, about using any damp cloths about yourself. I hope your babe will be good. If it is quiet, let her be. Keep her as still as you can. [Ralph’s sister] Mary’s babe is so quiet and is good. He hardly ever cries. They were not up here last week. [Her husband] Gurd [Horton] is not very well. They do not hardly ever go to church and Mary does not go anywhere but up here. She has a horse that she and [her daughter] Fannie drives. She comes up holding her baby Fred and Fanny holding the lines and Fannie says, “Grandma, I drove all the way up here.”
They are building a Methodist church here and [your brother] Stephen has got the job of getting the [sand]. He has got over two hundred loads now. It is a brick church. He has 2 hired men – Charlie Cortright and Hiram Goodrich now. Charlie hauls sand mostly all the time. The other team has to work on the farm and draw sand too.
[Your affectionate Mother]
Dear Brother & Sister,
Please accept my congratulations on the addition to your family. Hope you are all doing well. What do you call the “young female?” We would like to see it and you too very much. You must write us.
Yours in haste, but in love, — Sarah
Letter Number 136
Forty-one year-old Augusta Goodrich writes her brother Ralph Goodrich from her home on College Hill, northwest of Manhattan KS.
July 18, 1870
My dear brother & sister,
Perhaps you may think I do not care very much about my little niece that I hear is in your possession as I have not written you since hearing of your good fortune. But I have been uncommonly busy with either hired man, or company, so that I really have not found time – unless in the middle of a hot day when I could not write to anyone. I felt very sorry to hear sister Jennie was not getting along very well but hope ‘ere this she is around in health helping with her dear little daughter. I hope she may be spared to be a great comfort to you both. Who does she look like & what shall you name her? What day of the month was she born? I expect you feel very rich now.
We are a small family now for two days back. Some friends from Junction City made us a visit last week & took [our son] John home with them to stay a few days. And we have no hired man [at present] so we are only four. And yesterday, [my husband] James was gone to his appointments & did not get back until today.
We have had a very dry summer here around Manhattan, a few miles square, but elsewhere they have had timely rains. But last night we had a good, thorough rain – a heavy thunder shower lasting a good part of the night & doing a great deal of good. Everything was parched & dried up, gardens were doing nothing, and farmers were clear discourage. But things look brighter today. At Junction [City] where we used to live & only 22 miles west of here, they have had plenty of rain & it is so elsewhere.
It is vacation now [at the Kansas State Agricultural College] until the first week of September. The examination was quite interesting. The Commencement Exercises of course were not as large a scale as those of older colleges, but were a credit to those who took a part.
It is quite healthy here at present and we keep usually well. [Our daughter] Mary run a thorn (osage) in her heel & that is swollen & troubles her & she is complaining of it tonight. I have poulticed it & hope it will be better in the morning. I suppose Ma keeps you posted with regard to Owego news. The last letter said all were usually well. I suppose she wrote that your Charlie Platt was dead. [He] died just about a year after his father. He was a very promising boy. Mrs. Mary, Marguerite’s only daughter Kate was married a short time after Charlie’s death. I suppose it must have been a grand wedding as both families are very wealthy. Uncle William Stratton does not get any better & is quite a great deal of trouble.
Write as often as you can – both of you. Kiss the baby for Augusta. With much love to you both. Ever your affectionate sister, — J. Augusta Griffing
Letter Number 139
Ralph Goodrich writes his sister-in-law Christiana Finch to let her know of his wife Jenny’s deteriorating health following the birth of their daughter. Jenny would pass away on 7 September 1870. The letter also reveals that he believes his 34 year-old brother-in-law Charles H. Cole is having an affair and wants Elizabeth [Libbie], his wife, to leave Little Rock.
Little Rock, Arkansas
July 26, 1870
Dear sister Christiana,
Yours of July 20th I have just taken from the office & I answer before Jennie has read it because the mail goes out tomorrow morning. I have been sick nearly a week.
Have you received my letter telling about the Spring? That woman has been at Cole’s house several times since, remained there one night at least. I saw either [Charlie’s 28 year-old brother] Al[bert], or Charlie kiss her. I don’t see him making any preparations to go the 1st of August.
Jennie is sick yet. He breast is rising again & she is troubled a great deal with the cholic & diarhora (that word is not spelled right, but never mind). Jennie has come to the conclusion that she can’t get well here & so have I. We intend to leave as soon as we can. I will be obliged to sacrifice my place.
What does Lib say of Cole after hearing his excuses? Cole writes the way he does, I believe, to get you to coax her away from this place. She makes at least one too many here for his good.
I will have Jennie write the next mail if she is better.
As ever, — R. L. Goodrich
Letter Number 140
Mary Ann Goodrich writes her son Ralph L. Goodrich from her home in Owego NY giving news about his daughter Jenny Edith Goodrich. Goodrich’s first wife, Serena Jennie Connett, died on 7 September 1870 — two months after the birth of their infant daughter. Thinking himself incapable of raising the child on his own, Goodrich took her to his mother in Owego NY where his sister Sarah and brother Stephen helped raise her.
Owego [New York]
October 2, 1870
My dear Ralph,
I hope you have safely arrived at your home all well this pleasant Sunday morn. It is a long time to be going on the cars five days and nights. [Your daughter] little Jennie is well and doing well. I think she missed Sally and you too, but [your brother] Stephen will take your place. She is very good days. [Your sister] Sarah has taken the care of her nights till last night [when] Stephen lay on the lounge and took care of her, Sarah getting up once to put on dry diapers. She has cried a good deal nights till last night [when] she slept very well. Stephen says it is because he took care of her. If she will be as good as she was last night, we can get along very well. She has something of a charm but no more than children generally have.
[Your sister] Mary [Horton] and her family were up yesterday. She says Jenny has grown in a week. I hope she will keep well and be good. How long did your lunch last? And did you have to lie over anywhere [on your return home]? And how did Sally get along? How did you find things at your house? We are all about as when you left. Nothing remarkable has happened in our neighborhood that I know of. I suppose you will be busy tomorrow, but I hope you will take time to write us. We did not have a letter from [your sister] Augusta yesterday, but may today if Stephen goes to the [Post] Office. It is quarterly meeting today and he may not get out [of church] in time to go to the Post Office. Please excuse my short scribble. Goodbye.
From your ever affectionate Mother.
Letter Number 148
Charles H. Cole writes his brother-in-law Ralph L. Goodrich from the Gillis House, one block from the railroad depot, in Kansas City MO. This letter delicately avoids a self confession but suggests that Cole probably miss-used his office as U.S. Deputy Marshal in Little Rock to his financial advantage. He also hints that several leading citizens of the town also benefited similarly but then turned their backs on him when he sought their endorsement and other such favors. Isaac C. Mills is mentioned several times in the letter; he was a prominent 50 year-old lawyer in Little Rock at the time of this letter as was 39 year-old Augustus H. Garland. The other two individuals mentioned were probably 56 year-old banker Sterling H. Tucker, and either 44 year-old John or his 42 year-old brother Chauncey Stoddard, also well-known bankers in Little Rock. At the time this letter was written, Goodrich was working in the Clerk’s Office of the U.S. District Courts in Little Rock AR.
Kansas City, Missouri
July 27, 1871
Your kind and hasty letter reached me today, found us well, and not well fixed. I have waited here partly to hear from you something outside of the law in regard to the Indian Territory, as I might not have interpreted the law only to my advantage and desired to learn some opinion outside to benefit me. But in view of our efforts, permit me through you to tender to the Judge my kind thanks for the invaluable information he gave. I hardly know just how to appreciate his kindness, — also to my friend [Isaac C.] Mills, to him and [Augustus] Garland, Tucker, &c. I must express much the sorrow I feel at their total ignorance of the existence of even an acquaintance among these with whom they for years have been more or less connected with. But you know there is nothing like knowing nothing when ignorance is a useful thing — an easy way of getting over a little bit of favor that we don’t like to deny for cause. True, I by my peculiar usefulness in one branch of the duties of the office — by which others benefited — have exhibited a trait of character (necessary at the time) which enabled me to do things somewhat useful at times. But it is equally as true that these actions and doings of mine has fixed on me a sort of reputation — as Redmond often expressed it — of a damned thief. I don’t wonder at those gentlemen feeling a delicacy in recommending me to anybody whatever for any favor for fear that their excellent reputations may suffer.
In looking over the events of years of time, labor, and trouble, I can but feel that I have earned the very questionable reputation I have acquired. And this apparent unwillingness springs from a dread in their minds that I meditate for myself similar means of obtaining a competence that I acquired for them by peculiar actions and a trait of character that could do such without wincing under the lash of public scorn and contempt. I feel all this. But if it had not been for myself, I should never have done so. Yet when I think of it, and knew another in the manner I am known toward them, I should feel the same delicacy in endorsing one who did so for me — as they do me — probably for the same personal considerations.
As for the second favor I asked of Mills — and I felt safe in doing so — the other to see Tucker about [the] Stoddard matter, I dare not ask more. The latter he probably could have done for me. I have none other through whom I could have asked and through you humbly ask his pardon for requesting him to trouble himself with my affairs. Still, I now wish those men had sued Tucker on the bond and I should not have earned another medal for my peculiar adaptness in sophistry, and would not have the reputation with Tucker of being a liar and “fence” in covering up and evading his responsibility for the doings of Stoddard. Still he lives; he is wealthy, and so is Mills, while I — with unlawful earned money — have suffered — through kindness the loss of that so earned — and now am denied even a small personal favor for a fear that some future action of mine might be similar to those required of me for them, and they have to bear the ignominy of the same without obtaining a lion’s share of the benefits.
I desire as a personal favor that this be shown to Isaac C. M[ills] as I have my last to him still unanswered and I expect no further communications from him. I have lost my usefulness now and as an old glove, I am cast aside. And I am not a Mason or Odd Fellow; hence no fraternal feeling binds us. And personally, none will as I am situated that I shall never ask for more no matter how great the necessity I shall have for them. Now, this disagreeable subject is at a close, and all my hopes in that quarter likewise. And I expect it is a relief to all of them.
To yourself. You must show the foregoing to Mills. If he has not become as calloused in his shell of religious and moral rectitude as to feel the ingratitude ever so little, it will at least have the effect of exhibiting to him my sensibility at this unwarranted treatment. If I ever get out of this place, I shall show them all a thing or two and you need have no fears of showing this to Isaac. Twill do him good unless he is past regeneration.
And now I want to ask your pardon for making you the medium but it will have its effect more pointedly than if I wrote him as he will know that as he puts on his pious air around you all, that you are posted and his heart will send the blush to his cheek if there is blood enough in him to make one.
We are tolerable well, and [my wife] Lizzie is yet unable to be moved, but hope to be able soon to make a strike. I shall examine Brightly and whether or not shall see others, Strangers who probably will see me through if I go into the [Indian] Nation. There is money in what I intend and I will make it. And it is fair too — “merely selling cloth” — it ain’t criminal, but it is in money-making. Now goodbye. Write me soon and let me know when those men get broke so I can come down and help them make some more. With love of all.
I am, as ever, — C. H. Cole
Letter Number 151
Christiana [Connett] Finch, sister to Jennie [Connett] Goodrich — Ralph Goodrich’s deceased wife, writes to him from her home near Cincinnati OH. Her husband, Louis Finch was a fruit and grape grower in Hamilton County OH.
September 5, 1871
Your letter containing the money came all right & so did the picture. We all think it very good, only a little flattering unless you are fleshier than when you were here. It looks as though you have good health now. I like the style of yours better than Jennie’s but they said they had to take it the same way the copy was. I am sorry you have such a bad cold but hope you may be better ere this. [My husband] Lew is complaining a little & I do hope the babe is better. I have had the blues ever since I received your letter. I hope she will get along this summer & then she will be part of the world, I think. Day after tomorrow will be one year since [my sister] Jennie died & it seems as though she is in my thoughts day & night, for I dream so much about her, & Mother too.
Our fair commenced today & brings her fresh to me for I was there the day she died. Father is coming home tomorrow to stay a few weeks for a rest. Him & I talk of visiting some relatives in Indiana while he is here. I had a letter from [my sister] Lizzie [Cole] a few days ago. She says they are coming home as soon as they get their money from Memphis. Maybe it is all gone but I hope not. They say they intend to settle in Ohio. [Her husband] Charlie [Cole] wrote some to Lew in her last letter asking about his folks & I haven’t heard from Sallie Hughes for a long time. I still look for them down some time. We are done hauling peaches for this year & today Lew has been having the wine cellar cemented. He expects to make wine next week & when that is done, we will have a little rest.
Now I will close as it is so dark I can’t see the lines. We all send love and Frank wants you to write to him & he will answer. From your sister, as ever — C. Finch
Letter Number 152
Charles H. Cole writes his brother-in-law Ralph L. Goodrich from Kansas City, MO. This letter provides some hint of a scheme by Cole to make money off land transactions at the expense of the State of Arkansas. Perhaps Goodrich benefited from this scheme as well and used his clerk’s position in the U.S. District Court to gain access to legal records.
Kansas City, Missouri
September 8, 1871
Yours of the 1st rec’d. We are glad to hear from you. I have nothing to write of news that would be of interest. We are still here waiting to get away and hope to ere this reaches you. But I am astonished that of all my friends at Little Rock, you only hold out. But let them live. I swear to be even with them yet. I shall trouble you to do one thing more, I.E., hunt up that deed I left with G. W. McDairmid and paid him for recording before I left Little Rock. It seems funny that it cannot be found. If not to be had, can not you get me another one? Mills made it to me as Commissions in suit of Pecker vs. Duell, in chancery. Then do you look over the County Records and see if the same was recorded. If so, see if the same was listed to me for taxation. Then, if so, if the same was sold for tax for 1870, then find out the purchaser and obtain the State’s title in it. Get it valid and keep these proceedings a profound secret from all. You can hunt up all these items before you make inquiry for the deed. The land you will find described in your own records. I think if we can get the State to sell her title in it, we will have all we want if anybody has bought it. I have the right of redemption which none can deny me. Then when you have all this, put the same in shape and you can sell the same for something for I think then I shall have the right that the State forfeits when she sells. It will be worth $10 or $12.50 per acre. It is worth $100 now if clear title is obtainable. And if you sell [it], I will give you one third of all you get over the cost of purchase and your expenses. if anybody knows you are interested for me, they will chary about telling you anything. And if you hunt up the deed first, you will arouse suspicion. Harrington, I think, may have helped gouge me out of it as he wanted to purchase the land. Quiz him about it in a good opportunity. Langtree had a buyer for it once. See him incidentally. In all this, count yourself a party to profits. Show Mills, if convenient, or tell him what I say about Tucker, and maybe he could do something for me there. Tucker ought to have been willing to give me $1000 out of the ten thousand he offered me to settle up Stoddard’s matter. I can give him an order to the Comptroller that he can get the money back but neither him nor I can do anything, nor Stoddard get the money, until I am paid — if it stays forever.
I hope to be able to exchange pictures with you when we get settled. When that will be, God only knows. [My wife] Lib is better. [Our daughter] Carrie grows like a weed and does well. I am cross and morose until I cannot do a kindness without forgetting myself. This life is horrible. This town a Hell, in fact. Now pay attention to this letter. If anything can be done, you can do it and I know you will too as I feel you are a true friend, while I — the damdest fool — am now suffering for my folloes. Well, I shall not tell you what I do feel at times.
Our best love to you. Write soon, — C. H. Cole