Thursday, December 29, 2016

Moses Goodwin: Pioneer Builder, Mine Operator, Rancher and More [otd 12/29]

Moses Hubbard Goodwin, pioneer builder, mine operator, rancher, and lumber man, was born December 29, 1834 in Waldo County, Maine, northwest of Penobscot Bay. His grandfather, Aaron, was a ship’s boy on the USS Bonhomme Richard under Captain John Paul Jones.

Moses learned the carpenter’s trade and worked first in Boston and then in Minnesota. From there, he moved on to Mississippi. Moses stayed there until the Civil War broke out and authorities attempted to draft him into the Confederate Army.

Back in the north, he contracted a bad cold. Hoping the “salubrious” climate of California would clear his lungs of the lingering illness, Moses booked sea passage there in late 1861. The change did help, and he was again able to work. The following spring, he chased rumors of fabulous gold strikes in Oregon. Finding the claims vastly over-blown, he took a job in a shipyard, helping build steamers for the river trade.
Oregon River Steamboat. Salem Public Library.

Two years later, Goodwin again followed gold rush reports, this time into the Boise Basin. These stories were true and he prospected for awhile. However, he soon found he could do far better practicing his trade. Moses helped build a mill for the Mammoth Mine, near Pioneerville. He also built other mining and mill structures as well as the first large water wheel in the Territory.

In 1865-1867, Moses served as Superintendent of the Mammoth mill. He then became part owner of the facility and stayed on for another five years. However, the rigors of high altitude living brought on a relapse of his lung problem, so he liquidated his holdings and bought a ranch in the Payette Valley. He devoted some of his property to farming, but also apparently bought a considerable herd of cattle. Along with ranching, Moses did some building in the area.

During the national Centennial year, Goodwin traveled east with a new bride to visit family and attend the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Back in Idaho, he settled in Boise City, where he entered the lumber business. By the mid-1880s, he owned a water-powered sawmill and planing machine. For a number of years, he was the only manufacturer of doors, sashes and blinds in the Boise City area.
Sawmill Crew, 1885. Oneida County Historical Society.
Moses took an active interest in politics, mainly as a Republican, but with a very independent attitude. In 1884 and again two years later, he served in the Territorial Legislature. During his terms in the House, that body authorized the construction of a new capitol building and an insane asylum, and created the office of Attorney General. Goodwin also served on the Ada County Board of Commissioners, at times as its chairman.

After about 1900, Moses began dealing heavily in real estate. Three years later, he sold most of his lumber milling and planing properties, retaining only an investment interest. His name was associated with many land transactions in 1905, with other activity into 1910. Moses did operate a retail lumber yard in the city until 1911, when he retired completely. He died suddenly in October 1912.
References: [Blue], [French], [Hawley], [Illust-State]
John Henry Sherburne, Life and character of the Chevalier John Paul Jones, Vanderpool & Cole, New York (1825).

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