Mystery Monday: Goodwins in Fairfield, Maine

Mystery solved?

A few months ago I was working on the Bodfish line.  Major Samuel Goodwin’s daughter Mercy married Nymphas Bodfish in 1774, and in her family notebook she lists a number of her children’s and grandchildren’s births and marriages as happening in Fairfield, Maine, some 44 miles to the north of Dresden.  After doing what research I could online, I finally made it to the Family History Library a few weeks ago to look at the original Fairfield town records on microfilm.

The name of Bodfish actually doesn’t appear too often beyond a few marriage records, but I was running into Goodwins all over the place and that sparked my curiosity as several of the marriages corresponded with names in my records.  Bodfishes forgotten, I returned to researching the name of Goodwin, which is typical of my research.  It really doesn’t matter where I start, I inevitably end up somewhere completely different.

Samuel Twycross Goodwin, a grandson of Major Samuel, and his wife Elizabeth Holland were married in Pownalborough Aug. 11, 1792.  They had eight children according to Dresden town records:

  1. Samuel b. 16 Nov 1793
  2. David Speare b. 31 Dec 1794
  3. John b. 9 May 1797
  4. Benjamin b. 21 Jan 1799
  5. Edward H. b. 16 Nov 1800
  6. Randolph b. 8 Apr 1803
  7. Ann Frances b. 12 June 1805
  8. Abiel Varon b. 13 Dec 1809 (who is my husband’s direct line ancestor)

We know a lot about Abiel, and quite a bit about David, John, and Randolph, and their spouses and children.  But we’ve had very little success searching out the other four and their families.  Most of what I have is information submitted to FamilySearch way back when by one of my husband’s uncles.   This half of this family was mostly blank spaces and question marks.   Samuel may have married a Lucy, but was it Lucy Covel?  or Lucy Theobald?  or someone else altogether?  Ann Frances supposedly married an Allen Covel, and Benjamin may have married a Covel as well.  Or not.

So I was excited to see Goodwins (especially marrying Covels) in Fairfield town records along with births of their children which helped me to match them up to 1850 census records.  The dates all match the birthdates in Dresden for Samuel, Benjamin, Edward, and Ann Frances, but I don’t put a lot of stock in birth years according to the census.  All marriage records listed them as being from Fairfield, rather than Dresden.  I wanted something definitive to say yes, these are four of the children of Samuel Twycross Goodwin of Dresden, Maine.

A very interesting tidbit was that in the household of Samuel Goodwin in Fairfield in 1850, there is an Elizabeth H. Goodwin, age 86, born in Massachusetts.  Elizabeth Holland was said to be from Boston when she married Samuel Twycross Goodwin.

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In recent months I’ve noticed a lot of small cemeteries in Maine have been photographed and added to  I was finally able to find Samuel T. Goodwin’s headstone in Forest Hill Cemetery in Dresden.  He died in 1848 which explains my not finding him anywhere on the 1850 census and his wife Elizabeth is listed as dying June 23, 1850, at age 88.  What’s interesting is that the Fairfield 1850 census wasn’t taken until August 1, but the official census day was June 1 that year, so if this is our Elizabeth Holland Goodwin living with her eldest son Samuel in Fairfield, she would have still been living there on the official census day.

Since I now knew Samuel T.’s death date, I searched Lincoln County probate records, but to no avail.  And what a pain!  I really do love my easy access to the Family History Library with its millions of microfilmed records, but I can’t wait for the day when said records are all finally digitized.  There were at least 12 rolls of microfilm that covered the period when his probate could have shown up.  Each roll had two volumes with an index at the beginning of each volume.  So I’d check the first volume then crank through half a roll of microfilm to get to the index on the next roll, and then either wind forward or all the way back.  It’s not work I completely mind doing, but it is time-consuming.  I found lots of other documents relevant to the Goodwin family (which I still need to sit down and analyze) so it wasn’t a wasted evening at the library, but no probate for Samuel T. was to be found.

Meanwhile I continued to research the families and descendants of the four Goodwins in Fairfield, hoping I wasn’t spending a lot of time for nought. My gut feeling told me they were my family, but gut feelings aren’t accepted proof in genealogy.  Then a friend suggested looking at land records.  I haven’t delved into land records much (my self-education in genealogy is showing here) but I’m a definite fan now!

Again, I was intimidated by the number of rolls of microfilm I might have to crank through, but Somerset county had a nice and neat index in one volume for all the land records and I found many references to my Goodwins.  Apparently land included in the Kennebec Purchase was more extensive than I first realized and Major Samuel and his descendants owned quite a bit of land up and down the Kennebec River including acreage in Fairfield.

In Volume 26 of Somerset County Deed Records, I found the following, beginning on page 186:

(and yes, my images still leave something to be desired which is why I transcribed the document, see below)

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Whereas Samuel T. Goodwin of Dresden in the County of Lincoln, a deranged and insane person, is lawfully seized of a certain lot of land, situate in the town of Fairfield in the County of Somerset, containing about one hundred and thirty acres bounded as follows. beginning about five hundred and sixty poles from Kennebec River, and running a west Northwest course ninety five poles, to land owned by Obed Paddock, then turning South, Southwest and running two hundred and twenty six poles by land now owned by Benjamin and Arnold Gifford, then turning East, South East and running ninety five poles to cross lot No. 1, thence turning North North East, and running two hundred and twenty six poles to the bound first mentioned,the same being now in possession of Samuel Goodwin and Edward Goodwin, which lot of land, if not sold, would at the decease of the said Samuel T. Goodwin, descend to Samuel Goodwin, Benjamin Goodwin, Edward Goodwin of said Fairfield yeomen, Allen Covel of said Fairfield, yeoman and Ann Frances his wife in her right, David S. Goodwin, John Goodwin, and Randolph Goodwin of said Dresden, yeomen, and Abiel Goodwin of said Dresden, a minor, being all the Children, and heirs of said Samuel T. Goodwin, and the said Samuel Goodwin being Guardian of said Samuel T. Goodwin, and also, Guardian  of said Abiel Goodwin, and having contracted with said John Goodwin to maintain his said Father during life–  Now, therefore we the said David S. Goodwin, John Goodwin, and Randolph Goodwin, Benjamin Goodwin, Allen Covel, and Ann Frances Covel, in consideration of the premises, as well as one dollar paid as, the receipt whereof we do hereby acknowledge, do hereby release, remise and quitclaim unto the said Samuel Goodwin his heirs and assigns, forever, all the right, title, interest and estate which we have in and to the above described lot of land, containing about one hundred and thirty acres, and we for our selves, and our heirs, do herby covenant and agree that we will never make any claim or demand for said premises or any part thereof forever.  In witness whereof, we have hereunto set our hands and seals, this nineteenth day of April, in the year of our Lord, one thousand, eight hundred and twenty eight.

Signed, sealed, and delivered David S. Goodwin, Seal
in presence of us                        John Goodwin, Seal
George Houdlett                         Randolph Goodwin, Seal
Francis Houdlett                        Benja Goodwin Seal
Silvanus Covel                             Allen Covel, Seal
Samuel Covel Jr                          Ann F. Covel, Seal

Lincolnss  April 13th 1828.  Then the above named David S. Goodwin, John Goodwin & Randolph Goodwin, appeared and acknowledged the above instrument by them subscribed to be their free act & deed.

Before me George Houdlett Justice Peace

Somersetss Oct 28th 1829.  Then the within named Allen Covel, and Ann F. Covel his wife personally appeared and acknowledged the within instrument by them subscribed to be their free act and deed.

Before me Ellis Burgess Justice of the Peace, Somersetss April 5th 1830  Then the written named Benjamin Goodwin, personally appeared and acknowledged the within instrument by him subscribed to be his free act and deed.  Before me Ellis Burgess Justice of the Peace.

Somersetss Recd June 30, 1830 Entered and compared by Asa Clark, Regr.


So, interesting facts I did not know–Samuel T. Goodwin was declared insane and deranged, had his property seized, and his eldest son Samuel given guardianship of both his father, Samuel T., and his youngest brother, Abiel.  What I love about this document is that it lists the eight children and heirs of Samuel Twycross Goodwin.  Samuel, Benjamin, and Edward Goodwin, all of Fairfield, are indeed the sons of Samuel T. Goodwin of Dresden, Maine.

Other interesting land documents were also found, but those will have to wait for another post.


2 Responses

  1. Simply wish to say your article is as astonishing. The clarity in your
    post is simply spectacular and i could assume you’re an expert on this subject.

    Fine with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming
    post. Thanks a million and please carry on the enjoyable work.

  2. Hello, My family has been trying to find an Aaron Goodwin from Fairfield, Maine born around the same time as your Abiel Varon Goodwin. Can you tell me any information about him, as i am considering maybe his name was abbreviated in the references we found. We have found almost nothing on our Aaron, so are desperate for any information, or new thread of investigation. Any information is helpful. Thanks!

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