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Goodrich learned you can run from a debt, but you can’t hide

This bungalow at 1639 Broadway served as home to the Chauncey Goodrich family for 30 years or more. Goodrich, as a teen, traveled via wagon train to California with W.H. Dulany in 1850. The Marion County Assessor's office lists the owner in 2017 at David Withem. MARY LOU MONTGOMERY


The Gold Rush years beginning in 1849 were exciting ones for Americans; people believing that they could travel across the Great Plains by wagon, and collect enough gold nuggets upon their arrival in California to set them up for life.

A number of people from Hannibal set out on this great trek westward, and lived to tell tales about their adventures. Many others fell to hardships along the way. Few got rich.

W.H. Dulany was one of those industrious young men who set out for California. He ultimately returned to Hannibal and continued to tell the stories of his adventures throughout his life.

There is one story that he told that was particularly amazing. The first version was published by the Hannibal Clipper newspaper on April 5, 1877. The second version – told when Dulany was an old man – offered many more details, and was published by the Ralls County Record, and subsequently reprinted by the Palmyra Spectator on May 27, 1908.

Both versions of the story focused on Chauncey Goodrich, a Hannibal blacksmith from circa 1870 until his death in 1911. He was an ordinary man – if the stories told by W.H. Dulany are true - with an extraordinary past.

Mr. Dulany’s story begins …

W.H. Dulany grew up in Monroe County, Missouri, near Paris. There, he and his brother, Daniel Dulany, were industrious men who learned the value of hard work at a very young age. Ultimately, they went into the lumber business in Hannibal and each earned a substantial fortune.

But back in 1850, W.H. Dulany was a young man in search of adventure and riches. He set out overland with a number of men from Hannibal, headed for California. There were many such groups heading west at the time, but there were no railroads west of Missouri to service these travelers. Wagon trains took the travelers across the country, each following an established trail.

Somewhere out west, Dulany told the newspaper reporters back home that a red-headed boy came up to his camp, saying that he had been left to fend for himself by a previous wagon train. (He later embellished the story, saying that the boy’s parents had been murdered, and that he had been raised by the Indians.) Dulany and the boy came to an agreement that they would travel together, and the boy signed a note agreeing to pay his passage at a later date.

The 15-year-old boy’s name was Chauncey Goodrich. He worked for Dulany for a while in San Francisco, and then they parted ways. “The young man sailed with Commodore Perry, * who was then on his celebrated cruise to open the ports of Japan,” Dulany recalled, in his interview with the Ralls County newspaper in 1908. Goodrich left without repaying his debt to Dulany. Gone, but not forgotten.

After serving with Commodore Perry, veteran records show that Chauncey Goodrich fought in the Civil War, serving from 1861 until 1864. He married Mary C. Butler after the war and their first child – a son named John – was born in 1866. Their second child, Ella, was born in 1866 at Virginia, located in Cass County, Ill. By 1875, they had relocated to Hannibal, Mo.

Another debt

In 1877, Dulany told the Ralls County newspaper that a weeks prior he had been approached by a Hannibal woman who needed assistance with a debt. Her husband had gotten into a scrap with a neighbor, he said, resulting in a $20 fine. She signed a note, and paid $5 one month, and $10 the next. The final debt was paid when her husband came to Dulany’s house with the money still owed.

“When Mr. Dulany saw the man he recognized something familiar about him,” the Ralls County newspaper reported in 1908. “He saw again the camp fire on the plain, the red headed boy among a gang of Indians, the bargain and sale and the note. After gazing at the man in silence awhile he asked

‘Isn’t your name Chauncey Goodrich?’

“The man admitted that it was.”

Dulany went into his office, where – after digging through old papers – he found the note that Goodrich had signed some 27 years prior.

“Mr. Goodrich, asked: ‘Did you sign that note?’

“Mr. Goodrich recognized his rude signature and admitted that he had.”

Established in Hannibal

At the time of their chance meeting, Chauncy Goodrich and his family lived at 110a Market, five doors to the west of the wedge, and he was working as a blacksmith for Samuel Seibel’s blacksmith and wagon work shop, 801 Broadway. Goodrich and his wife, Mary C. Butler Goodrich, by now had four young children, John A., born in 1866; Ella Goodrich, born 1869; Chauncey, born in 1872; and Henry J., born in 1875.

Debt repaid

Presumably, Goodrich settled his old debt with Dulany.

As the years passed, Goodrich opened a blacksmith shop of his own, and regularly hired a horse shoer to meet the needs of his customers. At one time he partnered with John Hollyman in business, and other times he conducted business on his own.

In 1885, William J. Hart (col) was a blacksmith and horse shoer for S.F. Roderick. By 1888, William J. Hart (col) was shoeing for Goodrich at his business on Market Street. In 1892, Francis N. Raious worked for Goodrich. In 1894, William J. Hart was once again working for Goodrich.

His shop was located at one time on the southeast corner of Houston and Market streets.

Circa the 1890s, Chauncey and Mary Goodrich bought a house at 1539 Broadway (the address was later changed to 1639) and there they would live for the remainder of their years.

Their daughter, Ella D. Goodrich, became a school teacher, first at South School, and later at West School, located on the site of what is now Eugene Field School. Ella married W.C. Parker, who was at the time of their marriage a barber. They lived with Mr. and Mrs. Goodrich until the death of Mrs. Parker’s parents, and then continued to live in the same house on Broadway.

Chauncey Goodrich died in 1911, at the age of 77. His wife, Mary died in 1924. William Carson Parker – Ella’s husband - died in 1943. At time of his death, he was a mattress manufacturer.

William C. Parker’s death left Ella the only surviving member of her family. She died childless in 1953. Family members are buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Hannibal.

* From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: The Perry Expedition was a diplomatic expedition to Bakumatsu period Japan, involving two separate trips by warships of the United States Navy, which took place during 1853–54. The goals of this expedition included exploration, surveying, and the establishment of diplomatic relations and negotiation of trade agreements with various nations of the region; opening contact with the government of Japan was considered a top priority of the expedition, and was one of the key reasons for its inception. The expedition was commanded by Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry, under orders from American President Millard Fillmore. Perry’s primary goal was to force an end to Japan’s 220-year-old policy of isolation and to open Japanese ports to American trade, through the use of gunboat diplomacy if necessary. The Perry Expedition led directly to the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and the western "Great Powers", and eventually to the collapse of the ruling Tokugawa shogunate.

The Chauncey Goodrich family is buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Hannibal, Mo.

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