ABRAM GOODWIN, a veteran railroad man and engineer with a record of thirty years in the service of the Missouri Pacific Company, came to Kansas when a youth in 1871. Probably no citizen with so many active responsibilities has done more for the public welfare and development of Hoisington than he.
He was born in Jackson County, Illinois, October 17, 1854. His grandparents were William and Margaret Goodwin, both of whom died in Jackson County. His grandfather was a farmer and a native of England. The three sons of this couple were John and Elias, who died in Jackson County; and Josiah.
Josiah Goodwin was born in Kentucky March 10, 1828, and when a boy went with his parents from Bowling Green to Illinois. He had little opportunity to secure an education and spent most of his life as a practical farmer. He joined an Illinois regiment for service in the Mexican war, going west over the Santa Fe trails across Kansas and on west, and served in Mexico in General Taylor's army. During the Civil war he became a member of Company B of the Eighty-First Illinois Infantry, serving as lieutenant of the company. After a brief service on account of his physical condition he was discharged from the army, though he used every influence he possessed to be allowed to stay. He became identified with the Grand Army of the Republic, being a member of several different posts. He died in McPherson County, Kansas, in September, 1891.
Josiah Goodwin married Catherine Hagler, who died in February, 1915. Her father, Allen Hagler, was a native of Germany and his wife was an Irish woman. Josiah Goodwin and wife had the following children: John, who died in Larned, Kansas; Ellen, wife of L. L. Gayer, of Enid, Oklahoma; Abram; Melissa, wife of Richard Jukes of Lindsborg, Kansas; Catherine, now Mrs. James Bruce, living at Kansas City, Kansas; Laura, wife of James Owens, of Tulsa, Oklahoma; Joseph of Sioux City, Iowa; Alexander, who died in McPherson, Kansas, in 1900; Sadie, who married S. L. Lowrey, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Margaret, wife of W. Henry Hofflinis, of Hutchinson, Kansas; and Harrison also of Hutchinson.
Abram Goodwin spent his boyhood on a farm in Jackson County, Illinois, and attended school three miles away. He was seventeen years old when he came to Kansas. The family made the journey overland from Illinois and located at Salina, near where his father engaged in farming. Abram Goodwin remained with his parents and bore an important share in the management of the farm until he was twenty-four years old. He then continued farming for seven or eight years on his own responsibility, and left the farm in 1885 to become a merchant at Bridgeport. While he lived there the Town of Bridgeport was incorporated for the specific purpose of voting aid to the Missouri Pacific Railway in building its branch from Gypsum City to Marquette. Espousing the road's plans Mr. Goodwin was elected mayor of Bridgeport, but he removed from that locality in 1888 and began his career as a railroad man at Hoisington.
He first knew Hoisington when it was nothing more than a hamlet. The railroad shop comprised a box car set out, in which a few tools were kept with which to repair engines. He was first an engine wiper, later a fireman, handled a switch engine in the yards, and in 1894 was promoted to his first regular engine run. He is one of the oldest engineers on the Horace Division, and has had a passenger run more than twenty years. As a passenger engineer there are numberless incidents to his special credit. He has hauled specials loaded with passengers of distinction, men of finance and owners of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Several times Helen Gould's special train was behind Mr. Goodwin's engine, she being engaged in trips of inspection of her Young Men's Christian Association interests. Mr. Goodwin recalls one special incident when the Missouri Pacific management was in desperate straits and was making every effort to secure an extension of credit to the badly damaged corporation. Reaching Hoisington Mr. Goodwin's engine was coupled onto the financier's special and he drove his engine at sixty miles an hour to Horace, over a division where it was dangerous to ride on the regular schedule of twenty miles an hour. This dangerous trip, however, did not serve its purpose, since the financiers learned from the people along the way the real condition of the road and declined further financial assistance, resulting in the Gould family's losing control of the road.
Reference has already been made to Mr. Goodwin's public spirited participation in local affairs in Hoisington. He served numerous terms on the city council and five terms as mayor. During his administration as mayor the town undertook many public improvements, including a system of waterworks for which Mayor Goodwin drew the plans, the granting of a franchise for the telephone system and for an electric light system, and by council order he bought for the city the park which is the beauty spot of the town. He has also shown an active interest in schools and has served on the board of education. As long as he was physically able he had his hand at the throttle of community affairs as well as at the throttle of an engine on the Missouri Pacific Railway.
In politics he has never been anything but a republican. He first voted for Rutherford B. Hayes more than forty years ago and has voted the republican ticket at every election he has attended. Abram Goodwin has been a delegate to local conventions, and only his personal opposition prevented his nomination for the Legislature. He has contributed his own home and other improved property to the development of Hoisington. He and his family are active members of the Christian Church, and while his duties prevent his regular attendance Mrs. Goodwin is one of the most regular workers in the church, and she also represented the family in all phases of war relief work, including actual work and contribution of moneys to bonds, Red Cross, Young Men's Christian Association and other causes.
In McPherson County, Kansas, January 29, 1879, Mr. Goodwin married Miss Emma Comer. Mrs. Goodwin was born in Fayette County, West Virginia, November 20, 1861, daughter of James H. and Agnes (Cummings) Comer, who were also natives of West Virginia, and came with their family to McPherson County, Kansas, in 1877. Mr. Comer on leaving the farm became a resident of Bridgeport, Kansas, where he died September 29, 1912, and his wife December 9, 1914. The children in the Comer family were: James A., of Fay, Oklahoma; John W., of Fayetteville, West Virginia; Samuel H., who died in Atchison, Kansas; Charles C., who died in West Virginia; Sarah C., who married Jacob Vancil and died while a resident of Bridgeport, Kansas; Augustus C., of Kalama, Washington; Mrs. Goodwin; George Grant, of Kalama, Washington; Rosetta, who became the wife of Isaac Winchester and died in McPherson County; and Flora, wife of Elias Smith, of Canton, Oklahoma.
Mr. and Mrs. Goodwin have carefully reared a family of children and they also have some of their grandchildren with them. The oldest child, Howard, is a railroad man living at Hoisington. He married Adda Wilkinson, who died November 19, 1918, leaving three children, Gwendolyn, Abram and Ruth M. The second child, Nettie, is the wife of James Frits, of Jefferson City, Missouri, and is the mother of two children, Susan and Frederick. Miss Eva Goodwin is connected with the People's State Bank of Hoisington; Maude, the youngest of the family, is the wife of Mayor Webster J. Langham, of Hoisington, and has one daughter, Marjorie.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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