In the year 1824, Richard Goodwin and his wife, Ruth Sandborn Goodwin, with their three children Mark, Eliza, and Sara left their New Hampshire home, relatives and friends and turned their faces toward the west, hoping to establish a new home in Western New York.
Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties were bordering on the wildness and were in fact a frontier country er at that time, but stories of their fertile valleys and wooded hillsides had been brought back to New England by hardy pioneers and many New Englanders were leaving their rocky hillside farms for the milder climate and pleasant environment of Western New York.
One can but admire the courage and fortitude of these early ancestors of ours in cutting loose from home ties and life-long friendships and facing the unbroken wilderness to hew out a new home for themselves and their descendents.
And our brave forebear, Ruth Goodwin must have been made of sterner stuff than some of her present day descent aunts, to undertake the slow, tedious and often times dangerous journey with a family of little children.
As it was, they were obliged to stop on their journey on account of the delicate health of little Eliza. They remained at Saratoga Springs for a whole year before she had sufficiently regained her health so they could go on.
The third child, Daniel died in early childhood but whether in N.H., or their jouney, or after reaching Catt. Co. is in doubt. Two children, Augustus and Richard, were born in an old log cabin after they finally reached Farmersville, Catt. Co. All of Augustus’s children were also born in the same house. Here the mother and smaller children stayed, while the father and oldest boy; Mark, 16 years old came on and selected a place and built a log cabin in the Town of Conewango, near Waterboro and Clear Creek. This farm is still in the Goodwin Family after nearly 100 years.
The life of the pioneer was full of dangers as well as hardships. Richard Goodwin had his leg badly broken in the woods while clearing land for the crops he hoped to get in the next spring. He was getting so he could get along on crutches as it came spring.
He went to Clear Creek for a plough point and saw so many friends and neighbors to visit with that it was late when he started home. He had to go through a piece of woods and wanted to get though that before dark as he knew dangers lurked all about him. However, his progress was slow on crutches and before long he heard the howling of the wolves and knew that they were on his track. as they came nearer he saw that he soon would be over taken, so he backed against a large tree where he could protect himself somewhat.
As the pack came on, the leader attacked him, and as it would jump for him, he would strike at it with his plow point. He kept the wolves off for some time in this way but finding his strength nearly gone he saw that something else must be done. Watching his chance, when he had the opportunity he threw the plow point at the leader, wounding him and stunning him for a moment. Then it jumped up and ran into the depths of the woods, and Richard Goodwin soon reached home, none the worse for his thrilling experience.
As Richard and Ruth G. were the founders of the Goodwin family in this part of the country a few facts in regard to their parentage may be of interest. Ruth Sandborn Goodwin was the daughter of _____ Sandborn, and Esther Cleveland. And it was this same Cleveland family from whom descended Grover Cleveland former president of the U.S.
Richard Goodwin’s father’s name was also Richard Goodwin, a sea faring man. There is in the possession of Cousin Ruth Hammond a corset board Ruth Sandborn’s mother’s name was Elizabeth flanders. Two brothers of Elizabeth Flanders fought in the Revolutionary War, one them being killed in the battle of Bunker Hill. Of the other brother, John Flanders, many stories are related of his daring exploits which amounted to even recklessness after his brother’s death.
At one place considerable amounts of British stores were kept in a barn on a small island. These consisted of ammunition, tar and ropes for repairing ships. John on a scouting expedition discovered these supplies, struck fire from his flint lock musket and set fire to the stores. He was pursued by the British and made for the shore where he And his companions had left their boat with which they had reached the island. But the rest of the party reached the boat first and escaped in it leaving John and one other soldier at the mercy of the British.
They plunged into the water and a comrade on the mainland saw their predicament and put out in another boat and just succeeded in getting them out of reach of the British soldiers. As they landed, the British ships had trained their cannon on J. and his comrade. John saw what was coming and called out "drop" and they all dropped flat on their backs. The cannon ball struck just behind them and bounded over their heads throwing sand all over them.
This burning of the British stores so crippled the British forces, that it was months before they were able To go into action again, as they had to send to England and back. John was rewarded by a pension for his bravery.
At another time he and others one dark night, got past the British picket to a house where British soldiers were sleeping on the floor as thick as they could. John saw through a window a shelf with rolls of broadcloth and watches hanging on the wall. Stealing in between rows of sleeping soldiers he captured two watches and a roll of broadcloth, and escaped to a window. Sleepers began to stir and before he could escape had grabbed one end of his roll of broadcloth. He jumped out the window where his companions helped pull, and they tore off cloth enough for three suits of clothes and then got away in the darkness.
At another time (while on a scouting ex) he observed by daylight the position of the enemy’s guns, and then by night with several other soldiers, stole through the British pickets and fastened a long rope which they had brought with them, to a brass piece. Stealing back past the pickets again, they pulled on the rope and brought the piece through the lines.
They drew the cannon up beside his general’s quarters and at daybreak fired a salute.
A great commotion ensued and the general who was very severe ordered the offenders to be brought to him. A few questions were asked and they told him the story, when the stern old general said in a mild tone "In (the) future, be more careful".