Continuing with our look at the hamlets of Warren County, in this column we focus on Goodspeedville.

      Goodspeedville , a settlement later called West Glens Falls

      by Dr. Marilyn Van Dyke

     Goodspeedville was a settlement to the west of the city of Glens Falls, New York.  It was founded about 1845 by a keen, shrewd speculator named Stephen Goodspeed.  Goodspeed was a blacksmith.  He married Jane Johnston (?Johnson} and they lived in 1834 on South Street not far from Monument Square.  They had 5 sons:  Edgar, Jerome, Stephen, George, and Thomas, as well as one daughter, Ellen.

 

     In 1842, Mr. Goodspeed purchased a tract of land known as the Skinner Farm from Allen Gow.  Meeting with indifferent success as a farmer, his purchase was laid out in village lots and built upon with small simple homes for working class families.

     As connecting streets were developed they were uniquely named for the states, ie. Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. In a 1964 census West Glens Falls had a population of 2,725, creating a separate listing.  The sale of some lots enabled Goodspeed to buy a small foundry located at the corner of Warren and Lime Street near Fredella Avenue.

          The Goodspeeds were a religious family. Stephen was a Presbyterian while Jane was a Baptist and she steered their children into the Baptist church and saw they were properly baptized.

     The Goodspeed boys were sent to Glens Falls Academy.  Edgar decided to become a minister and attended Union College for a while, and then he went to the University of Rochester where he studied theology and graduated in 1856.  He received his D.D. in 1870.  He then served as pastor in Poughkeepsie, Janesville, Wisconsin and the Second Baptist Church of Chicago which was the largest church of this denomination In this country.  He baptized 1100 people during this period.  After twelve years his failing health required him to give up the Chicago church.  His brother Thomas Wakefield Goodspeed joined him in 1871.

     Thomas Wakefield Goodspeed was born in1841 in Glens Falls.  He moved with his family to Illinois in 1855.  As a student in Knox College he heard the famous Lincoln/Douglas Debate.  He finished college at the University of Rochester in 1863 and completed seminary studies in 1866.

     Thomas married Mary Ellen TenBroeke of Panton, Vermont.  Their sons were Charles, a prominent attorney, and Edgar J. a renowned Biblical scholar.  Thomas was a religious and educational leader in Chicago for 56 years.  He became secretary of Baptist Theological Seminary and saw it succeed while the old University failed.  He was instrumental in interesting John D. Rockefeller in supporting the Seminary along with others, including the Armour, Swift, and Pillsbury families.

     Thomas envisioned a major university and headed a committee to finance such a project.  Working tirelessly,  he was one of the six incorporators signing the university charter in 1890.  The new University of Chicago soon rivaled Harvard.  Goodspeed served as Secretary of the Board of Trustees until 1913, and for many years was Registrar of the University.  Upon his retirement in 1926, he then served as Historian of the university.

     He published two histories of the University of Chicago and two volumes of biographical sketches in Chicago history, two biographies of leading  educators, and a history of his church.

     While not as widely known as Charles Evans Hughes, another Glens Falls son, he will always be remembered in Chicago as one of the founders of the University.  Thomas died on December 16, 1927 at the age of 84.  Thanks to Thomas, the Goodspeed name was nationally known.

Resources

Census of 1850   Glens Falls Village/Goodspeed family

Article on the Goodspeeds by Marion Chitty from the AW Miller Collection Crandall Public Library

Sketch map of Glens Falls/West Glens Falls, undated by HL Goodspeed

www. University of Chicago

 

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