ALGERNON MORDANT GOODNOUGH was born in Des Plaines, Cook, County, Illinois, March 16, 1838. His father, Daniel Goodnough, was a hard working farmer of English descent, and his mother, Harriet M. Conant, was a direct descendant of the world famous French Huguenots, a woman of rare intelligence, and gentle, Christian spirit, who died at the early age of twenty-three years, leaving one child, an infant son, the subject of our sketch. Soon after the death of his mother, his father removed to Vermont, where the son was reared and educated, graduating at Middlebury College in Vermont, in 1861. He was married May 12,1862, to Miss Lucy H. Langworthy, of Middlebury, Vermont, who, until the time of her death, August 26,1890, was a true helpmate, and a most amiable and affectionate wife, whose serene Christian faith bore fruit in a life devoted to others good, a life rich in kind words and helpful deeds. Shortly after marriage, Mr. Goodnough engaged in teaching in Massachusetts, his last school being the High School in Barnstable, after which he pursued a course of studies in Yale Theological Seminary, and subsequently was installed pastor of the Congregational Church in Mystic Bridge, Connecticut. Failing health induced him to resign his charge, and in 1867 he come with his wife to California, across the Isthmus, under the auspices of the American Home Missionary Society, and for three years was settled in San Mateo, California, where a commodious church was built during his pastorate, when he removed to Vallejo, and after some years of ministerial labor there, his health still being delicate, he engaged in merchandising, building up a large trade by strict attention to business and honorable dealing with all, in musical instruments, in which he had previously had some experience. In the character of a “music dealer,” he is now widely and favorably known on the Pacific coast, having some 2,000 patrons to whom he refers with pleasure. As a singer of home-songs he is known to thousands in California, and wherever he is known is always welcome. He sings over 400 songs, from memory (without the sight of words or music,) and there is perhaps not another man in America who can sing as many from recollection only. He is the general agent for California for the “Smith American Piano & Organ Company” of Boston, with whom he has been dealing with for some thirty years, and he still enjoys their fullest confidence.
In 1872 Mr Goodnough went east on a lecturing tour, delivering in the Representatives Hall in Montpellier, the capital of his native State, and in many other important towns, a lecture on California, entitled “Five Years in the Sunset Land.” This lecture was spoken of by the press in most flattering terms, and received by large audiences with marked interest and favor, and winning for the lecture an enviable reputation as a platform orator of unusual ability as well as an enthusiastic Californian.
In 1884, after ten years of mercantile life in San Francisco, Mr. Goodnough purchased a large track of land near Redding, in Shasta County, and shortly afterward he came there to reside; this track of land was sold some three years later, for about ten times what it had cost. He now lives in Stillwater Valley, six miles east of Redding on a handsomely improved place he has named “Prospect Park.” He has young fruit trees in great variety growing, but is mostly interested in a new raisin grape called “Thompson’s Seedless,” said to be the best article in its line. In addition to his home place, he has four other improved places in Shasta and Solano Counties, and several unimproved properties held as investments. Mr. G. has one son, Algernon M. Goodnough, Jr., now a resident of Randolph, Maine, who bids fair to become an equal of his father in enterprise and integrity. We may add that Mr. Goodnough, is a member of the Presbyterian Church and of several fraternal societies, and considering that what he has acquired, is due solely to his own honest efforts, he may well take pride in the result of his labor.
Memorial & Biographical History of Northern California
The Lewis Publishing Co., 1891 Pages 600-601
Transcribed by: Bonnie Phelan