David H. Goodell

Olive Atwood Wright was one of a large family of children. Her parents, who lived in Sullivan, were very poor and found it difficult to provide for the many who were dependent upon them, and when Olive was fifteen years of age she left home and started for Boston in search of an opportunity to earn her own living. On arriving in that city she had just fifty cents, and finding no employment there she proceeded to Waltham, where the first cotton-factory in the country had just commenced operations. Here she found some old acquaintances; but they refused to recognize her on account of her poverty. She, however, obtained the privilege of working in the factory, and at the end of a year visited her parents with eighty times as much money in her pocket as she had when the stage left her in Boston. Eight years later she had saved from her earnings five hundred dollars, and having married a young farmer, Jesse R. Goodell, went to live with him upon the homestead which had belonged to his ancestors, in Hillsborough. This couple were the parents of David H. Goodell, who was an only child, and was born May 6, 1834. The family remained upon the Hillsborough farm until 1841, when it was sold and they removed to another in the adjoining town of Antrim.

The parents, who had had but very limited school privileges, felt keenly the importance of an education, and were desirous of having their son obtain one. They accordingly, when he had mastered the studies of the common school, sent him to Hancock Academy several terms, and then to New Hampton, and he graduated at Francestown in the summer of 1852, and in the fall entered Brown University. Here he took high rank as a scholar, winning a prize in mathematics, and marking within one degree of perfect in Latin; but his health failed him during the sophomore year, and he was compelled to return to his home. The next year and a half he spent upon his father's farm, and, having recovered his health, resumed work as a teacher, in which he was engaged two terms at Hubbardston, Mass., one at New London Literary and Scientific Institution, and one at Leominster, Mass.

A sedentary life did not agree with Mr. Goodell, however, and he again went to Antrim with the intention of making farming his permanent business. Soon after, the Antrim Shovel Company was organised, and he was called from the farm to act as its treasurer and book-keeper. A year later, in 1858, he was appointed general agent of the company, and served in this capacity six years, the three last as the agent of Treadwell & Co., of Boston, who had purchased the business of the original company. In 1864, Oakes Ames bought the business, including the patents covering the now famous Antrim shovel, and moved it to North Easton, Mass., and Mr. Goodell in company with George R. Carter, one of the firm of Treadwell & Co., began in a small way the manufacture of apple-parers. He invented what is known as the "lightning apple-parer," and put it upon the market through a New York house, which sold the first two years a few hundred dozen. This they considered a good business; but Mr. Goodell was not satisfied, and the next year took the road himself, and in three weeks' time he sold two thousand dozen, and made the invention known throughout the country.

In 1867 the factory was burned, and, as the firm carried no insurance, it lost everything; but in six weeks it had a new shop in operation, and was able to supply the demand for the next year, which rose to five thousand dozen. In 1870 another calamity overtook the enterprise. The firm of Goodell & Co. owed at that time seven hundred and sixty-one dollars, but it had indorsed, to accommodate one of the partners, the notes of Treadwell & Co. to the amount of fifty thousand dollars, and the failure of this firm sent both into bankruptcy. The result of this trouble was that Mr. Goodell bought the property himself, borrowed money and paid its debts, paid for it out of his first year's profits, and has since been able to greatly enlarge the business without signing a note for himself or anybody else, or accepting any of the pecuniary help which has been freely offered him.

Up to 1872 he directed his energies mainly to the manufacture and sale of parers; but in that year he helped organize the Wood Cutlery Company at Bennington, and in 1875 united it with his private business and transferred the whole to the Goodell Company, of which he owns a large share of the stock and is the manager and controlling spirit. The business of this company has steadily increased until it employs one hundred and fifty hands, and pays for labor more than fifty thousand dollars annually. It manufactures all kinds of table cutlery, Cahoon seed-sowers, apple and potato-parers, and cherry-stoners.

While giving his closest attention to these manufacturing enterprises, Mr. Goodell has taken a warm interest in agriculture, and for many years has managed the large farm that formerly belonged to his father, which came into his possession some time since, and upon which he resides. Here he demonstrates the principles of progressive and profitable husbandry and stock-raising, extends a hearty welcome to his friends, and enjoys the peace and plenty which are reserved for the gentleman farmer. He has been one of the trustees of the New England Agricultural Society for several years, and organized and was for a time president of the Oak Park Association, and is an active member of the New Hampshire board of agriculture.

Mr. Goodell has always been an ardent, wide-awake, and working Republican, and when the party, under his leadership, wrested the town from the opposition in 1876, he became its representative in the legislature, to which position he was re-elected in 1877-78. In the house he established and maintained a reputation as one of the most judicious counselors and most effective speakers in the state, and commanded the confidence of his colleagues to such an extent that no measure which he advocated was defeated, and none that he opposed was successful. Among the important bills which were carried through largely by his judicious and earnest support was that for the erection of a new state-prison.

Mr. Goodell's wife was Hannah Jane Plumer, a daughter of Jesse T. Plumer, of Goffstown. He has two children,—Dura Dana Goodell, born September 6, 1858, and Richard C. Goodell, born August 10, 1868. The family are members of the Baptist church of Antrim, as were the father and mother of Mr. Goodell.

These facts justify the claim of a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, who look upon him as one of the strongest men of the state, and one for whom high honors are in reserve. Though still in his prime, he has won a position of which any man should be proud. His large manufacturing business, which has given the town new life and prosperity, is of his own creation; his farm is a model which invites healthy progress; his private character is without a blemish; his business credit above suspicion; his reputation as a citizen, neighbor, and friend is of the best; and his ability to fill any public position creditably and well is universally acknowledged.