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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
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The most in-depth, comprehensive site about the Skagit

Covers from British Columbia to Puget Sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan, Snohomish & BC. An evolving history dedicated to committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp (bullet) Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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The Goodell family, immigrants from Vermilion,
Ohio, who helped shape Washington Territory

(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?)

      When we started this website five years ago, we had two major goals: research the relationships between the early pioneers and seek out responses from descendants and researchers who could fill in the gaps of Northwest history. At the same time, as Glenn Hall taught us in Sedro-Woolley High School chemistry classes, we researched, then set up hypotheses and hunches based on the research and then rigorously tested them. One hunch was that historians have overlooked the relationship between two key pioneers must have been related: Phoebe Goodell Judson, the mother of Lynden, and Nathan Edwards Goodell, who opened the store on the creek that bears his name — a tributary of the upper Skagit River, during the 1880 gold rush.
      After a dozen years of researching that hunch, we hit the bulls-eye in the summer of 2005. Those two key pioneers were brother and sister, members of the Jotham W. Goodell family that trudged west by covered wagon to Washington Territory from 1850-54. They were from Vermilion, Ohio, which was like a cradle for the earliest pioneers of Whatcom, just as Lincoln Center, Kansas, was the cradle for Sedro-Woolley.
      The key was playing another hunch. Knowing that Goodell came north in 1880 to the Skagit River from Oregon, I searched for Goodells now living there. Eventually, I found Rahlie Goodell, who has studied the genealogy of her husband's family for years, and then Mary Michaelson of Lynden responded to our original posting on a bulletin board. We discovered that we were on parallel tracks. She has been connecting Goodell descendants for some time now in preparation for the 150th anniversary celebration on October 8-9, 2005, of the church that Phoebe and Edward's father founded. On the way, we discovered another important Skagit County connection: one of Phoebe's daughters married the founding father of Edison, Edward McTaggart.
      Our story unfolded in four parts in in Issue 30 the optional Journal Subscribers-Paid online magazine and we then shared them in the free home pages. You can travel back and forth between the segments and learn about the pioneers and compare their experiences. We hope to make this section a clearing house and conduit for information from descendants of the Goodell family and researchers who are fascinated by them. Here are the stories we present in this issue.
      The story of the Goodell family trek west. Part one includes: how Edward and Phoebe are related; Jotham's marriage and preaching in Canada; Vermilion, Ohio; the family's move west via Utah by covered wagon train, 1850-51; arrival in Oregon; family moves to Washington Territory; Phoebe and Holden Judson arrive; William and Anna Maria Goodell arrive; settling in at Grand Mound.
      Part two of the Goodell family story begins with the Indian War of 1855-56 and also includes: 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.
      Nathan Edwards Goodell, seventh child of Jotham Weeks Goodell and Anna Glenning Goodell. Owner of a trading post on the upper Skagit River that supplied miners during the 1879-80 mini-gold rush at Ruby Creek. His was the first retail business upriver from Mount Vernon. Came west with his family by wagon train in 1850-51 when he was 11. In the chapter on Edward, we also review the early history of the new Washington Territory and the Indian War of 1855-56. Mary Michaelson points out that his middle name was actually Edwards, a family name in more than one generation, but because his name is spelled as Edward in almost every public record, we spell it Edwards within our stories for consistency.
      Here are the people in the family who we will profile in this series in subsequent issues and then share on the free home pages on a staggered basis.
      Phoebe Goodell Judson, second child, and a twin, of Jotham Weeks Goodell and Anna Glenning Goodell. Migrated west by covered wagon with her husband, Holden Judson, and a toddler daughter in 1853, and gave birth to a son in Nebraska Territory (now LaBonta Creek, Wyoming), while traversing the Oregon Trail. After living for 17 years in Thurston and Lewis counties, she and her husband moved to the Nooksack River in Whatcom County, where they founded the town of Lynden. She also wrote her memoir, A Pioneer's Search for an Ideal Home, which was published in 1925. This story will be presented as new documents and photos are revealed from various family collections. Update: Mary Michaelson has started a special website called Friends of Phoebe.
      Mary Judson McTaggart, fourth child of Phoebe and Holden Judson. She married Edward McTaggart in 1878 and they settled on his claim in the Samish district of what would become Skagit County. The McTaggarts became founders of the town of Edison when the town rose on their claim.
      Jotham Weeks Goodell and the journey he led his family on from Vermilion, Ohio, to Oregon Territory in 1850-51, with a stop along the way to "winter with the Mormons." A Protestant minister most of his life, Goodell wrote a series of letters about his family's experience with the Mormon community that became historical documents in the religious conflict and that were later collated into a book, A Winter With the Mormons, by David L. Bigler.
      On Oct. 8-9, 2005, descendants of the Goodells and Judsons and other pioneers of Lewis County and the Grand Mound area celebrated the 150th anniversary celebration of the Westminster Presbyterian Church at 349 N. Market Blvd, Chehalis, Washington. The church evolved from the one that Rev. George F. Whitworth and Rev. Jotham Weeks Goodell founded in 1855 at Davis Prairie/Claquato as part of the Puget Sound Presbytery. If you would like to learn about the program and the information that the Goodell and Judson descendants shred, you can email to Mary Michaelson, assistant curator of the Lynden Pioneer Museum. She has been coordinating research of the Goodell family history and made a presentation that weekend, as did descendants of the Goodells and other pioneer families of the Grand Mound-Claquato-Chehalis area, which was the population center of the new Washington Territory in the early decades.

Other famous people in the Goodell/Goodale tree include:
      Lucy Goodale, born Oct. 29, 1795, Marlboro, Mass., daughter of Abner and Mary Howe Goodale, died at Honolulu, Hawaii, October 13, 1876. She was considered an old maid at age 24 and was introduced to a graduating minister, the Reverend Asa Thurston of Fitchburg, Mass., because he needed a wife to go to Hawaii on the missionary expedition with Hiram Bingham. They traveled there in 1819 on a perilous six-month voyage on a sailing ship around Cape Horn and became part of the nucleus of missionary families that evolved to control the economy of the Hawaiian Islands. She later became the model for the character Jerusha, a missionary wife in James Michener's book, Hawaii.
      Timothy Goodale, a cousin of Jotham. He blazed the Goodale's Cutoff (also spelled Goodell's) from the Oregon Trail that passes through the present Craters of the Moon monument. Mary Michalson visited the area recently and noticed the volcanic terrainthat must have been very tough on the feet of the wagon train oxen that were already tired and sore. Update 2007: James McGill has conducted a very impressive program of research about the Goodale Cutoff, tracing the whole trail with volunteers. See this website for the results of his research and photos of the trail itself, plus the story of Goodale's life:

      The various emigrant trails and later stage and freight roads which followed the general route of Fort Hall — Big Southern Butte/Camas Prairie are included as the Goodale's Cutoff of the Oregon Trail. This cutoff had been used by fur traders for many years, and emigrant wagons had traversed the eastern section as early as 1852. Goodale's Cutoff departed the Oregon Trail at Fort Hall, crossed the Snake River Plain past Southern Butte to Lost River, and then headed west across the Camas Prairie. Camas Prairie provided an approach to the Boise region that stayed north of the broad valley of the Snake. The cutoff rejoined the Oregon Trail at Ditto Creek. The Goodale route was heavily used in 1852 and 1854.
      David L. Bigler suggests that those who want to read more about Goodale should see Harvey L. Carter's biographical sketch in Hafen, "The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West," 7:147-53. Timothy Goodale lived at Fort Bridger, on the Oregon Trail, as early as 1847.

      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: Later in 2007, we plan to add another page that will feature the exhaustive and comprehensive research of Timothy Goodale and the Goodale Cut-Off by James McGill [Email him here for more information and a copy of his Trail Dust online magazine.

Endnotes from above

Phoebe Goodell Judson's book
      Phoebe Goodell Judson. A Pioneer's Search for an Ideal Home. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1984 (originally published 1925 and a second edition in 1966 by the Washington State Historical Society, with photos and footnotes, a real treasure). The 1984 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]

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Story posted on Oct. 1, 2005, last updated Aug. 15, 2006 . . . Please report any broken links so we can update them

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