August 22, 2004

George Goodrich's father

George Goodrich unsurprisingly has kind things to say about his father in the biography he provides in the Centennial History of Dryden, portraying a brilliant man who overcame financial difficulties to become a great lawyer.

Milo Goodrich, Dryden lawyer
Milo Goodrich, Dryden lawyer.

Chapter XLVIII.

Milo Goodrich.

The subject of this chapter was born at East Homer, N. Y., January 3, 1814. His parents, who had recently emigrated from the East, were natives of Sharon, Conn., and were in humble but respectable circumstances, his mother, Almira (Swift,) being a woman of great industry and ambition, while his father, Philander, was a mason by trade, serving at one time as captain of the state militia, and noted as a man of high character and genial disposition. When Milo was about two years of age, his parents moved and located upon a small farm near the Marl Ponds in Cortlandville, where the childhood of our subject was spent. He early manifested a great fondness for books, and when he was sixteen years of age he commenced teaching the same district school at South Cortland where, up to that time, he had received his education. Thereafter he pursued his studies by means of the money which he could save in teaching, being a student of the old Cortland Academy at Homer, and afterwards at Oberlin Instititue, in Ohio, which had then been recently established to aid students who were obliged to pay their own way. In the meantime he taught at district schools in Groton, Peruville, and Berkshire, N.Y., as well as in Mahoning, Pa., and Brooklyn and Weymouth, Ohio. In the year 1838 he commenced the study of law in the office of Judge Barton, at Worcester, Mass., where he was admitted to practice in 1840. He then went West, to the territory, as it was then, of Wisconsin, where he practiced law in the new country at Beloit. After two years of this experience he returned to New York, and in 1844 he married Eunice A. Eastman, of the town of Groton, and soon afterwards removed to the adjoining town of Dryden, which was his home for the next thirty years.

Here he commenced his practice of law in a very humble way, renting only rooms in which to commence housekeeping, possessing not means, and not yet admitted to practice in the higher courts of this state. There was, however, in those days, much litigation in justice's court, which served as a school in which his great natural ability rapidly developed, and he was thus enabled to raise from the lowest to the highest grade of profession. In 1849 he was appointed postmaster at Dryden village and at about the same time he served as superintendent of schools for the township.

In 1848 his parents moved to Dryden, building with him the home on South street where they lived together until their death.

In 1867 Mr. Goodrich was elected a delegate to the state constitutional convention of that year, and subsequently was a member of Congress from his district. In the former capacity, as a member of the judiciary committee and among men of the highest rank in the state, he alone submitted a minority report in favor of an elective judiciary with a term of fourteen years for its judges, instead of changing back to a judiciary appointed for life; and his report, substantially as submitted by him and subsequently adopted by the convention and finally by the people of the state, embraces the system which has ever since prevailed.

In the year 1875 his increasing practice in the U.S. courts and the higher courts of his own state influenced him to remove to Auburn, where he continued to be engaged in a business of great activity and success until about two weeks before his death, which occurred April 15, 1881. His remains were brought to Dryden, where they rest with those of his parents and of several of his children, who had died before him. During the past year, his wife, Eunice A. Goodrich, who was a woman of domestic habits but possessed of a strong character, and was a devoted wife and a noble mother of his children, was buried beside him.

Of their eight children three only survive, viz: George E., who occupies the homestead and continues the practice of law in Dryden; Frank, who is now a member of the faculty of Williams College; and Fanny G. Schweinfurth, of San Francisco, Cal.

It will be impossible to convey to the reader who did not know him an adequate conception of the magnetic power of Milo Goodrich as a speaker, especially when engaged in the trial of cases before a jury. When he was attending court in Ithacac and Cortland there were but few important trials in which he was not engaged. He devoted himself almost exclusively to his chosen profession, which he pursued for the success which awaited his efforts in it, rather than for the pecuniary compensation. Many of the expressions in his arguments were so impressive that they are still remembered and cherished by those who listened to them. He was endowed by nature with a strong physical constitution, which rendered him capable of incessant work, and he possessed great mental power, which, when fully developed, impressed all who came in contact with him. Not alone distinguished as a lawyer, he developed rare literary taste and culture, and some of his poetry upon local subjects exhibited his abilities in that direction. Upon public occasions he frequently delivered addresses, and in all political campaigns of his time he was one of the foremost speakers.

He was a Republican in politics until the Greeley campaign, which caused him to separate himself from the party to which he had, up to that time, given his earnest and conscientious support. Of a generous and public-spirited disposition, he liberally supported all public enterprises, and, when the Southern Central railroad was contemplated, he united his efforts with others in securing its accomplishment, without seeking its emoluments. His magnetic influence as a speaker and his high character as a man will always be rememberd by those who personally knew him, but he cannot fully be appreciated and understood from any description which can be given.

Goodrich, George B. The Centennial History of the Town of Dryden, 1797-1897. Dryden: Dryden Herald Steam Printing House, 1898. Reprinted 1993 by the Dryden Historical Society. Pages 212-214.

(The Dryden Historical Society, which sells this book, may be reached at 607-844-9209.)

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