The Goodwin brothers: Valley’s first Gentiles

The Goodwin brothers: Valley’s first Gentiles

[Transcribed by Ann Potter]

Back during the late unpleasantness of the 1880s and 1890s when it was actually fashionable for Mormons and non-Mormons to oppose one another as peoples, no groups of non-Mormons were more important or more influential than the five Good win brothers—William, Frederick, Charles Isaac, George, and James—were natives of Standground Hunts, England, where with their parents James and Sarah Moore Goodwin and a sister Sarah A. C. Goodwin they were converted to the Mormon religion in 1849.

The family left England with a Mormon emigrant company on the ship North Atlantic on Sept. 4, 1850. Landing in New Orleans, they remained there for two years, moving to St. Louis in 1852 where the father opened a store. In 185e they moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where they stayed for six years, apparently still engaged in the mercantile business. In 1859 they crossed the plains to Utah in Capt. Brown’s ox train, arriving in Salt Lake City on Aug. 29, 1859. While the rest of the family moved directly to Logan, William (by then married and the father of two sons) stayed for two years at Camp Floyd moving to Logan in 1861. Apparently James.’s clerical experience with his stores was considered of sufficient importance for him to be elected Cache County treasurer in August 1860. He served until his death a year later.

The 1870 census shows Sarah Goodwin, age 50, a widow, living in Logan’s Third Ward with her three unmarried sons; Frederick, 30, carpenter, Charles Isaac, 28, a farmer, and George, 26 a farmer. Mrs. Goodwin had substantial holdings, being listed with $1,800 in real estate and $2,200 in personal estate. James, married with his own household in the Fourth Ward, was listed as a “freighter,” undoubtedly engaged in the Montana produce trade. William’s first wife, Sarah Logan Goodwin, died in April 1865 and in September 1866 he married Isabella Benson, daughter of Apostle E. T. Benson and Pamela Andrus Benson–and a full sister of Charles Augustus Benson. In 1867 James married Alice Eliza Benson and in 1872 Frederick married Malina Adelaid Benson, both brides being daughters of Ezra T. And Eliza Ann Perry Benson.

In 1867 William joined in a partnership with C. B. Robbins and opened a dry goods store. To this they later added a shoe shop, tannery and butcher shop. As a spare-time activity, William played in the Logan Brass Band.

While William’s success was preeminent, the other brothers also profited. George joined James in freighting goods to Montana. Charles Isaac read some law and apparently engaged in some local land speculation.

There can be little doubt that the Goodwin family’s alienation from the Mormon church can be traced to the Cooperative Movement and the pressure that was exerted upon William to close his store and merge with the Logan Cooperative Mercantile Institution (the Logan Branch of the ZCMI). Just prior to the ultimatum from the bishop to join the LCMI or else, William Goodwin was dropped as a member of the Cache Stake Elder’s Quorum “for not attending and for not coming to the meeting by request of the Teachers.” Certainly the disaffection was not family-wide at that date, for Frederick married Malina Benson on Aug. 29, 1872, in the Salt Lake Endowment House.

In 1871 or 1872 the five brothers pooled their resources and established Goodwin Brothers Ranch on the Big range, now Cornish. During the 1880’s the five brothers and William’s eldest son, William James, patented 1,120 acres.

In February 1873 the brothers’ brother-in-law, Charles Benson, was lynched by a mob in downtown Logan. This seems to have been a deciding factor in the brother’s later life. In the summer of 2874, in direct competition with the LCMI, they opened Goodwin Brothers Store on First North Street, just around the corner from the LCMI. By then none of them had any reason to feel any reticence about competing with it.

Charles Isaac and James were tried before the Teachers Quorum on April 5, 1874, William on April 19, and Frederick on Oct. 4. George was apparently never brought before the teachers but was dropped from the Elders Quorum in 1874. In the April 19, 1874, trial for his church membership before the Teachers Quorum, William Goodwin was cited for feeling “justified in sending his children to the Gentile School, also other things not according to the order of the Church.”

By then the trial was meaningless. Beginning in February 1874 William, James, George, and their families are listed on the register of St. John’s Episcopal Church. C.I. married St. John’s schoolmistress Sarah Goodwin Brown about 1882 and is listed thereafter as a parishioner. The brothers continued joint ownership of both the ranch and the Logan store until 1887 when Frederick acquired a majority interest in the ranch and moved there permanently (hiss children are listed on the school census of Trenton District in both 1887 and 1888–the children of “Non-Mormon Parents”). The year 1887 was an unfortunate time for him to have assumed sole management of the ranch. The winter of 1887-1888 wiped him out. By that date the range was seriously over grazed and the herds unprepared for heavy snows. Where in 1873-1874 animals had been saved by feeding on foothill grasses uncovered by the winds, in 1887-1888 there were no grasses. Only a few head survived to see spring.

If the ranch died in 1887, so did a close relationship among the five brothers. Family tradition says that the family split because of the actions of C.I. He supposedly acted as agent for the disposal of the jointly held property (including the store) and was somewhat less than equitable in dividing the proceeds.

After the division of the ranch and sale of the store, James and his family disappeared, probably to Idaho or the Pacific Northwest. Frederick settled in Portland, Ore., where he died on June 7, 1910. George Goodwin followed his wife’s family to Idaho, where he established a ranch on “The Island” near the present town of Menan. He operated the ranch only until 1889 when he retired to Pocatello, where he lived until his death on Dec. 16, 1915.

William Goodwin remained in Logan. In 1888 he was appointed probate judge of Cache County by President Cleveland. Reappointed in 1890, he resigned in 1894 because of ill health, presiding over county government during the crucial transition from a period of bitter sectarian conflict under territorial rule to statehood and the quieting of tensions between Mormon and Gentile. When he died of Bright’s disease on Nov. 6, 1894, The Deseret News noted. “A gloom was cast over the entire community by the announcement that William Goodwin...had died at his residence in Logan at 6:10 o’clock.” Mormon officials offered the tabernacle for the funeral which was conducted by the Rev. Mr. Hayden of the Presbyterian Church with eulogy delivered by Moses Thatcher.

Charles Isaac and Sarah G.B. Goodwin also remained in Logan. In 1890 they built a cut stone townhouse in chateau style on his father’s first lot on the corner of First North and Second West streets in Logan where they lived for 16 years, pillars of the Episcopal Church (where Mrs. Goodwin was organist) and of local Gentile society, especially that revolving around the Agricultural College of Utah (where Mrs. Goodwin was librarian and later a member of the Board of Trustees). In 1906 they sold their home to Congressman Joseph Howell and moved to San Diego, Calif. Sarah Goodwin died there on Nov. 2, 2912. Charles Isaac died there on June 12, 19`6. Both are buried in the city’s Greenwood Cemetery.

I don’t know whether or not there are any descendants of the five brothers in Cache Valley today. I suspect not. William Goodwin’s grave in the Logan Cemetery is unmarked. But the absence of descendants and of memorials cannot obscure the face that these people were of premier importance in the development of Cache Valley.

This article about the Goodwin brothers is taken from the Herald Journal of Logan.