An important real estate transaction has taken place this week in the sale of the well-known Dwight Goodenough farm, two miles west of this village, to Robert R. Norton of Vernon. The farm comprises 250 acres of land under a high state of cultivation, and is one of the best for dairying and general stock raising in this vicinity.
It has produced 90 tons of good hay this year, and other tillage crops in proportion. The price is understood to be in the vicinity of $6000, Mr. Goodenough reserving one wood lot. Mr. Norton takes possession at once and will stock it for a milk and dairy farm.
The farm is one of the historic ones of the county, having been in the hands of the Goodenough family ever since it was first settled in 1784. Levi Goodenough, the grandfather of the present generation, moved there in that year, when he was 21 years old, felled the trees and cleared up the land.
He carried on the farm until he was about 60 years old, when he gave it up to his son Windsor, who worked it until he died at 62 years of age. Dwight, his second son, succeeded him and now retires at the age of 60, thus keeping the family record good.
Elizabeth (Pratt) Goodenough, wife of Windsor and mother of three sons, Simon, now resident in California, Dwight and John P., is still active in body and mind at the age of 86. She was the daughter of Orlin Pratt and was born on the neighboring Pratt farm on the Marlboro South road. Her whole life since her marriage, 60 years ago, has been spent on the Goodenough farm.
Mr. Dwight Goodenough recalls the fact that in his whole life his longest absence from the farm at one time has been for only four weeks. He has been one of the most industrious, enterprising and successful farmers of the town and his neighbors all wish him many years of health and happiness in the less active and laborious life which he now means to lead.
He has bought a place at the East village to which he will soon remove.
By 1884 the Dwight Goodenough farm contained three hundred and twenty acres with twelve hundred sugar maple trees and a twenty-cow dairy.
Israel Smith's Mill, Aaron Nash's Mill, First Congregational Church
Early Roads To Guilford
Levi Goodenough was born in 1765 at Westboro, Massachusetts to Ithamar Goodenough and removed to Guilford, Vermont with his family about 1770. Ithamar also took land on road 41---the Hinesburg road in Brattleboro---in 1774, probably with profits from selling land in Guilford.
This land in Brattleboro may have been worked formerly in season by a Mr. Strother of Vernon for its large sugar maple grove. Strother built a hut on this land for his comfort and manufacturing during the maple sugar harvesting.
Thomas Goodenow emigrated from Shaftesbury, Dorset, England in 1638, booking passage on the ship "Confidence" from Southampton to Boston---thence to Sudbury, Massachusetts. This line of the Goodenough family later removed from Sudbury, through Marlboro, Massachusetts to Guilford, Vermont.
Land Record Identification By Ellen A. Zimmerman
Ithamar Goodenough was with the band of Yorkists who attacked the Josiah Arms Tavern in Brattleboro at midnight on January 19, 1784---
Determined to accomplish their object, and enraged by the grievances to which they had been subjected, they commenced an assault upon the house, and riddled the doors and windows with musket balls and buckshot. After firing about thirty times, wounding Major Boyden in the leg, and shooting a traveller through the thigh, they entered the building "in their common, desperate manner," as was subsquently stated, and having captured Waters departed with their prey.
Ithamar was pardoned for this indiscretion on October 25, 1784, and was given two months to declare his allegiance to the Republic of Vermont. The question of any confiscated property being returned to Ithamar, or not, requires more study.
Arthur H. Goodenough, the last family man to own the Goodenough Farm, claimed in 1928 that the homestead was built in 1783. His statement was given to the Brattleboro Reformer columnist known as "Rustic", named Paul Prentiss Jones of Windham, who reported the year. This remains the most reliable source for the age of the Goodenough Farm.
The new house was apparently built for two families, or possibly for Ithamar Goodenough and his children, including Levi, who was almost twenty years old at this time. There are separate doorways on the two different levels. A central chimney appears to be massive from the outside, but is hexangonal inside, with six fireplaces, complete with baking ovens alongside.
There are two separate, very steep staircases with narrow treads inside, which were both extended into the attic over fifty years later---possibly after it was known that the large attic was no longer required for a Universalist meeting house. The hinges, latches, and doors are still intact. Some floorboards are fifteen inches wide. The adze marks are still clear in the post and beam trunneled attic timbers.
Levi Goodenough served as a Justice of the Peace, was the legal guardian of Samuel Stearns in April, 1831, and sat on the committee that was given four hundred dollars for the making and repair of the road from Rufus Clark's Tavern to the Guilford line---now Canal Street to the Fort Dummer Park---the "old road to Guilford".
Levi and Margaret raised eleven children, Levi Jr., Caleb, Daniel, John, Samuel, Robert, Windsor, Roswell, Simon Frazier, Alonzo, and Maria. Margaret died on September 30, 1847. Levi died on September 9, 1848, aged eighty-three.
Alonzo, the son of Levi, was born on July 31, 1808 and married Relief Plummer. They had three children, one, Alonzo, manufactured brick for many years, making the first brick used in the construction of the Vermont Insane Asylum buildings.
Mr. Eber Church, who commenced the farm where Silas Reeve, Esq. now lives, turned, as was common in that early day, his young stock to range the wood for feed on Ginseng hill, so called, where Mr. Levi Goodenough now lives. No settlements were then commenced in that quarter. He went alone in the course of the season, to see how they throve. But returning, on the plain east of John Plummer's, he was pursued by a furious bear, and he was so closely pursued, that he ascended a tree for his safety. The bear still pursued him, and approached so near, that he applied the heel of his shoe to her nose for his defence; and he made the application with such force and effect, that the bear resolved on a retreat, and left him to proceed on his way unmolested.
About the year 1770, when settlements were first commenced in the southern and south-western part of the town, a Mr. Strother came from Vernon in the spring, and made sugar near where Levi Goodenough now lives. He erected a hut for his comfort and convenience, during the season of his labor. When after a few days' absence, he returned with his gun, loaded, in his hand; he, as he approached his hut, saw a catamount leap across his path, upon a stump. He cast his eye toward his hut, and there saw another, seated upon the top of it. He cautiously stepped aside, till he brought them both in a range with himself; and discharged his gun with that skilful aim, that he killed them both upon the spot.
Rev. Jedediah L. Stark, First Congregational Church
Printed in the Brattleboro Messenger, May 12, 1832.
Alexander Colden, Surveyor General for the Province of New York, ordered a survey of southwest Brattleboro at the behest of Samuel Wells and his twenty associates, who wished to secure their deeds and works. The grid for the southwestern quadrant of Brattleboro contains 5,400 acres laid out in seventy lots of one hundred acres, in five ranges, each range containing fourteen lots.
The survey was measured on the ground by Samuel Tayor. Venters brook, Fort Dummer, Whetstone brook, West River, and Herberts brook---which meanders easterly from Locust Ridge---are all named by June 25, 1766.
In consideration of "One hundred and twenty pounds Lawful money" in hand from Samuel Stratton of Hinsdale, New Hampshire, Levi Goodenough signed a warranty deed for a tract that "Contains one hundred Acres of Land" that had been
Conveyed by Samuel Wells, Esq.r to Wm Smith Thomas Smith Nicholas William Stuyvesant and is Distinguished & Known in a Map, or Chart made for the partition of said Lands, by Lot number nine in the third Range
There is no deed that survives to show from whom Levi Goodenough bought his land, at some time before or during 1786. The proof quite likely no longer exists anywhere. The deed may have been carted off to Halifax, Nova Scotia, during the Revolutionary War, or taken to New York, or lost in a fire, or deliberately destroyed by advocates for the Republic of Vermont.
Southwest Brattleboro 1891 Grid Map
There are no original or recorded deeds that survive, to show who owned the land between William Smith, Thomas Smith, and Nicholas William Stuyvesant together, and Levi Goodenough. Without any deeds, there is absolutely no proof for who owned the land between 1766 and 1786.
The earliest reference to anyone on this land is to a Mr. Strother of Vernon, Vermont, who built a hut around the year 1770 for his use during maple sugaring season. Strother may have purchased the land that became the Levi Goodenough farm---he is named in the early history by the pastor of the First Congregational Church in West Brattleboro, Rev. Jedediah L. Stark, called Lecture on the Early History of Brattleboro'.
There is no reference at all to the early settler Jonathan Stoddard owning this land. The name "Stoddard-Goodenough Farm" is not accurate.
In the year 1800 the Brattleboro Town Clerk listed Levi Goodenough's taxable poll, two Oxen, four Cows over three years old, three Cows over two years old, twenty-five acres of Improv'd Land, in all the assessment 125 Dollars and 75 Cents.
The Rev. Alonzo Church, D. D. was born on the Goodenough farm on April 9, 1793. Rev. Church was the President of Franklin College for the thirty years following 1829. The school is now the University of Georgia.
This portrait is from "The University of Georgia" by Charles Morton Strahan, published in New England Magazine, New Series, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Sept. 1890), pp. 52-67.
Hosea Ballou preached his second sermon in this place in 1791. He was then in his twenty-first year. He says,
The second time I attempted to preach was in the town of Brattleboro, Vt., where my brother preached in the daytime and I undertook to speak in the evening, being overpersuaded to do so; but this attempt was a failure, and I was greatly mortified and thought for a timethat I would not engage in a work for which I was not competent.
The brother referred to above was David Ballou, considerably older than Hosea, and the father of Rev. Moses Ballou of Philadelphia.
Among the auditors of Father Ballou on the occasion mentioned above were, probably, Col. Daniel Stewart, Levi Goodenough and Reuben Stearns, at least these men were pronounced Universalists at that time. Col. Stewart was "always" a Universalist. If so, the doctrine of the final restitution of all things was believed here as early as 1780.
Hosea Ballou, 2d, preached some of his first sermons in Brattleboro. It is believed that he preached at the residence of Levi Goodenough in his eighteenth year---1814. He certainly preached there not later than 1816-17.
Between this date and 1829, there was occasional Universalist preaching in school houses or private residences by Revs. John Brooks, Thomas J. Sawyer, Wm. A. Balch, Russell Streeter and Isaiah Boynton. In December, 1829, Rev. Matthew Hale Smith, then only a boy of 18, was settled over a society in the West Village. He preached half the time there and the other half in Guilford . . .
Rev. James Eastwood
The steep-pitched, immense attic at the Levi Goodenough farm was the most likely meeting house room for the Universalist congregation's worship. During the 1840's, two rooms were added to this attic. Two separate, interior staircases were extended, so the attic now has two levels, with a split staircase rising from one low-rise platform.
About this time the Universalists made arrangements to hold meetings by themselves in the old meeting house, after the regular afternoon service of the Congregationalists. A minister was engaged and some of the influential citizens of the town early embraced the new, and to some minds, mythical faith, and habitually attended these meetings.
Among the prominent attendants were Uncle Levi Goodenough and Uncle Luther Sargent, as they were commonly known by everybody hereabout. After a time, it is related, the new minister began to digress from the strict path of theology, as some of his hearers put it, and took up the subject of temperance.
It is unnecessary to say, perhaps, that in those days an assortment of pure liquors in one's home was considered about as essential to good housekeeping as a well-filled larder. Consequently, very many could not overlook, or even tolerate, anything in their preacher that tended in any manner to abridge their social and individual rights.
The preacher continued to grow more earnest in his temperance preaching each succeeding Sunday, until his congregation concluded to make a formal protest, and a committee, of which Uncle Levi and Luther were members, was chosen to wait upon their pastor, with whom the whole subject was fully gone over with emphasis.
The good minister heard with becoming patience the arguments of his respective parishioners, and finally inquired of Uncle Levi, the principal spokesman, if he would kindly suggest just what he would have him preach. The answer came quickly and with spirit, "Preach the Gospel, by ___; and the committee without further ceremony departed.
[When Levi was thirteen or fourteen years old in February, 1779, his father Ithamar signed the Covenant of the Guilford Congregational Church. Despite being a Universalist in his later years, Levi could still display the strong Calvinist moral backbone, or the Puritan's practical concern for his profits from cider.]
Brattleboro's Town Clerk Stephen Greenleaf, Jr. reported in 1824 that Levi Goodenough's distillery within eight months had produced over seven hundred gallons of cider.
Levi Goodenough's son Alonzo, born in 1808, along with his brothers Robert and Roswell, formed the "Goodenough band" that played for dances all through Windham County for over twenty years. Alonzo was described as "a famous violin player" around the year 1840 or before.
Shortly after the brothers' band stopped, Roswell's son, Asa Putnam Goodenough, was reported to own a violin made in 1660 in Brescia, Italy, by Giovanni Paolo Maggini. The historian will point out that Maggini died of plague in 1630, but this is a matter of storiography. Doubtless the fiddle was ancient.
Could dances have been held in the great attic loft at the Goodenough farm on the cross road near the road to Jacksonville?
Howard Phillips Lovecraft, better known as the author H. P. Lovecraft, first visited Arthur Henry Goodenough at the Goodenough homestead during August 1927. The evocative and wild landscape of West Brattleboro, the ancient two-story house and its large attic "nestled in the lee of that colossal forested slope", and Arthur himself inspired Lovecraft to write "The Whisperer in Darkness", with its scholarly recluse character, Henry Wentworth Akeley.
The opening lines to "The Whisperer in Darkness"---
Bear in mind closely that I did not see any actual visual horror at the end. To say that a mental shock was the cause of what I inferred---that last straw which sent me racing out of the lonely Akeley farmhouse and through the wild domed hills of Vermont in a commandeered motor at night---is to ignore the plainest facts of my final experience. Notwithstanding the deep extent to which I shared the information and speculations of Henry Akeley, the things I saw and heard, and the admitted vividness of the impression produced on me by these things, I cannot prove even now whether I was right or wrong in my hideous inference. For after all, Akeley's disappearance establishes nothing.
Lovecraft describes his departure from the Brattleboro railroad station---
The town seemed very attractive in the afternoon sunlight as we swept up an incline and turned to the right into the main street. It drowsed like the older New England cities which one remembers from boyhood, and something in the collocation of roofs and steeples and chimneys and brick walls formed contours touching deep viol-strings of ancestral emotion. I could tell that I was at the gateway of a region half-bewitched through the piling-up of unbroken time-accumulations; a region where old, strange things have had a chance to grow and linger because they have never been stirred up.
H. P. Lovecraft
"The Whisperer in Darkness" is H. P. Lovecraft's warning political allegory for our present time, with a sharp focus upon Brattleboro in its sleepy West River valley.
While writing "Whisperer" in 1930, Lovecraft's imagination was darkened by his horror at the violence of rampant totalitarian Communism---the mass-murdering and torture in Russia of Orthodox Christians in their tens of millions, and throughout eastern Europe.
This reflected horror in "The Whisperer in Darkness" was perhaps sharpened by Lovecraft's fears at the Bolshevik capture of Kiev, learning about these lurid events during his brief marriage to the older, "well assimilated", and Jewish wife Sonia Haft Greene, with her family ties to Ichnia, Ukraine, near Kiev and the murderous history of citizen Lazar Kaganovich.
Scholars have slighted the chance that Lovecraft's life-long, curious pose as an eighteenth-century aristocratic gentleman may have served to protect this racial nationalist from his own shame and guilt along the maternal lines.
The fact remains that H. P. Lovecraft much preferred to keep the focus on his acceptable English ancestry, in the same way that another, even more popular racial fantasist, Lyman Frank Baum, preferred to stress his Irish ancestry, for purposes of distraction.
"The Whisperer in Darkness" stands firmly in the line of popular political fantasies like H. G. Wells' "The Time Machine" and the later "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers" or "The Night of the Living Dead" and latterly---the Borg in Star Trek with its politically correct "hive mind" against which "resistance is futile".
"The Whisperer in Darkness" and these similar fantasies all commonly, yet obliquely, illustrate the dispiriting corrupting effects which follow hard upon the heels of that contrived and subtle political and social infiltration with its hostile intent. The sleep of reason produces monsters.
West Brattleboro, August 21, 1927
The Brattleboro Reformer, June 18, 1928, printed---
Assemble In Home of Arthur Goodenough, Poet,
To Discuss Development Of Vermont Magazine.
Half a dozen literary persons met for a discussion yesterday at the home of Arthur Goodenough of Guilford, one of the foremost Vermont poets, many of whose compositions have appeared in The Reformer. The discussion was principally concerning the possibility of developing the magazine Driftwind as an organ for Vermont literary expression.
Besides Mr. Goodenough there were present Walter J. Coates of Montpelier, founder, editor and publisher of Driftwind, who is keenly interested in Vermont poetry; Howard J. Lovecraft, native of Providence, a writer chiefly concerned with the weird, who is summering in Guilford; Paul Cook of Athol, Mass., editor of several magazines and publisher of Mr. Goodenough's last book of poems; Paul P. Jones of Windham, writer of the Rustic column in The Reformer; and Vrest Orton of New York, native of Hardwick, Vt., and summer visitor in Guilford, who is advertising manager of the Saturday Review of Literature.
"The Rustic's Viewpoint" Columnist
The "Rustic" columnist at the Brattleboro Reformer for over twenty-one years was Paul Prentiss Jones, the son of Emory Harris Jones of Windham, Vermont. Paul Jones was a school teacher for five years, who then worked in Windham as a farmer, as town clerk, superintendant of schools, town representative, and for the Windham Congregational Church as clerk, sometime organist, and lay preacher.
In his column "The Rustic's Viewpoint" printed in the Reformer for June 20, 1928, Jones fortunately reports the year for Levi Goodenough's house construction, which cannot be determined from the Land Records alone---
Mr. Coates discoursed on early literary history of Vermont, and all enjoyed the beauties of the landscape from Mr. Goodenough's picturesque old house, built in 1783.
The Rustic also mentions the presence of Arthur Goodnough's wife and daughter-in-law, and the poetess Helen Miller of Guilford, Vrest Orton's wife and baby, and "the tremendous feast prepared by the Goodenoughs, and served on old-fashioned blue china".
Vrest Orton founded the Stephen Daye Press in Brattleboro.
Howard P. Lovecraft was sensitized by "the black, mysteriously forested slope towering so close behind the house", by the effects of Vermont's severe flooding in 1927, and by the subsequent discovery of the ninth planet named Pluto. His letter describes Arthur Goodenough's situation in the shadow of Round Hill---
I never seen no country niftier than the wild hills west of Brattleboro, where this guy hangs out. Brat itself is the diploduccus' gold molar, with its works of pristine Yankee survival, but once you climb the slopes toward the setting sun you're in another and an elder world. All allegiance to modern and decadent things is cast off---all memory of such degenerate excrescences as steel and steam, tar and concrete roads, and the vulgar civilization that bred them . . .
The nearness and intimacy of the little domed hills become almost breath-taking---their steepness and abruptness hold nothing in common with the humdrum, standardized world we know, and we cannot help feeling that their outlines have some strange and almost-forgotten meaning, like vast hieroglyphs left by a rumoured titan race whose glories live on in rare, deep dreams.
by Michel Houellebecq, with an introduction by Stephen King
Weidenfeld & Nicolson £10, pp 245
H. P. Lovecraft, author of At the Mountains of Madness, was---according to your taste---either a visionary genius or one of the most ridiculous writers ever, with a fatal weakness for piling on adjectives such as 'eldritch' and 'gibbous'. Cosmic horror was his stock in trade and he invented his own mythology of the indescribably ancient 'Old Ones' such as the great Cthulhu---a tentacle-faced, bat-winged, humungously-dimensioned ugly-bugly---who lurk under the deepest oceans and beyond the furthest stars, just waiting. American critic Edmund Wilson described the only real horror in his work as the 'horror of bad taste and bad art'.
Other readers have rated Lovecraft more generously, among them Borges, Stephen King and Joyce Carol Oates, but he's never had a champion like Michel Houellebecq, himself one of the most vital contemporary novelists. For him, Lovecraft is among the 20th century's most important writers. It is Lovecraft's uncompromising negativity that Houellebecq responds to, and the title of his own book has the swinging quality of the old Spanish Fascist slogan: 'Long live death!'
For Houellebecq, Lovecraft's 'magnificent' tales 'vibrate like incantations'. He even praises Lovecraft as a stylist, a bold move that may not be unrelated to the fact that English is his second language. Lovecraft's style isn't just fantastically inflated, as Houellebecq acknowledges, but shot through with a creeping genteelism that was bound up with his delusions of being an 18th-century gentleman. Still, it is very possible that in a hundred years' time, when the nuances of 20th-century English have been lost, people will read Lovecraft with the same pleasure they get from Romantic poetry.
One of the things that makes Lovecraft so distinctive is the horror he finds in the idea of infinitely deep time and space and the knowledge of a monstrously indifferent universe alien to our little world of humanist values. Contemplating it offers 'sublime' thrills, in the old sense of the word: the sort people used to get from gazing at mountains, and now get from reading the likes of Stephen Hawking.
Tentacles and bat wings notwithstanding, the real dark side of Lovecraft is his ethnic hatred: it is jaw-dropping in its intensity and Houellebecq rightly makes no attempt to whitewash it (in fact, from some of his own work, it's evidently something he can imaginatively empathise with). This isn't some unfortunate peccadillo but intrinsic to Lovecraft's vision. Raised in New England, Lovecraft never recovered from the shock of his poverty-stricken time on the streets of New York and it left him with the conviction that in the long run 'sensitive persons' would be trampled by 'greasy chimpanzees'.
This is the human subtext of Lovecraft's pessimistic cosmology, where sanity and civilisation are doomed to be overwhelmed by unnamable malignities. The Old Ones---like Shub-Niggurath 'the black goat with a thousand young', Nyarlathotep 'the crawling chaos', the idiot god Azathoth, and, of course, Cthulhu himself, sleeping like Tennyson's Kraken in the submerged city of R'lyeh---are supposedly still worshipped by 'primitive' people in secret across the world, and Lovecraft's cosmic horror is inseparable from his feelings about the decline of the West.
Houellebecq's superb discussion of Lovecraft offers deep insights into what drives his own writing, as well as into the reactionary tendencies of the horror genre: 'Horror writers are reactionaries in general simply because they are particularly, one might even say professionally, aware of the existence of Evil.'
One of the truly great bad writers, Lovecraft is certainly here to stay. Bizarrely, the invented mythology he always insisted was not only evil but fictional (he was a convinced materialist) is now followed like a new religion by large numbers of occultists, offering a modern alternative to Satanism. What with the religion and the fact that the Old Ones have become available as cuddly toys---there is a 'Plush Cthulhu', no less---you can't help feeling Lovecraft's vision has been subverted and diluted. Not by Houellebecq.
Saturday July 15, 2006
The subject of this sketch was born in Brattleboro, Vermont, in 1835, and is one of the representatives of one of the old Vermont families. His grandfather, Levi Goodenough, left the State of Connecticut before the close of the last century, and settled, as one of its pioneers, in Windham County, Vermont. His son, Winsor, was the father of the subject of this sketch. Rev. S. Goodenough was educated in the Brattleboro schools, supplemented by an academic course at South Woodstock, Vermont (Green Mountain Liberal Institute), and by attendance upon the St. Lawrence, New York, University and Divinity School. He entered the ministry of the Universalist Church in 1856. His first charge was in the towns of Royalton and Barnard, Vermont, and in that State and the States of Maine and New York were spent twenty-five years of a useful life, engaged in work for the glory of God and the good of mankind.
In Vermont Mr. Goodenough wedded Miss Ellen M. Halladay, who was also born in Brattleboro. Her failing health was the chief cause of their removal to this State. Mr. Goodenough visited this State and county in 1881, purchasing his home in that year, as before stated, but did not become a resident of the State until November of the following year. Soon after coming he began gathering a congregation and organizing a church in Oakland, and there he has accomplished his most successful work in the ministry.
"Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World; or Santa Clara County, California", Edited by H. S. Foote. (Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888), pp. 434-5.
The Levi Goodenough House
Set Into The Hillside
Twelve Over Twelve Windows In Simple Frames
Open House, Saturday, May 18, 2013
The Brattleboro Historical Society has printed a brochure for "The Goodenough Farmstead Trust" which contains two color photographs that show two different, elegantly furnished and wealthy Colonial-style rooms that are captioned "Small parlor room fireplace" and "Large hearth and bake oven on first floor".
Shaded electric lights in one photograph provide evidence that the brochure's advertising is deceptive---let the dishonest history in it pass. The Levi Goodenough house has never been wired for electricity.
The Goodenough Farmstead Trust is searching for investors for this architectural treasure in West Brattleboro. Hopefully, a clause for safeguarding the farm's historic integrity in its entire and truthful context will be included in the final contract, despite what the "experts" from other places, who are not from Brattleboro, habitually advise in these matters.
Photograph By William St. John
Thomas St. John