Last Thursday night while I was at the Sonoma County Museum, after learning that my master’s thesis project consisted of a historic resources survey of Penngrove, a man asked me if I knew who Goodwin Avenue in Penngrove was named for. I amazed myself by recalling the name of Lydia Goodwin. Amazed because I completed my thesis 24 years ago! I suppose it’s storing away information like this that is making it difficult for me to remember where I put my reading glasses 10 minutes ago.
I vaguely recall that Lydia was married to a man named James who was a gentleman farmer and that the couple split their time between San Francisco and Penngrove. I believe it was while researching James Goodwin that I came across my first instance of finding a person living in two different locations in the same census year. This was back when there was no Ancestry.com and you had to rely on microfilm for census research. Back then we didn’t have newspaper databases like the California Digital Newspaper Collection. Today, a quick search by name pulls up obituaries for both Lydia and James.
The Sonoma Democrat reported that Mrs. Lydia Goodwin died at about 3 AM on June 15, 1896, at her home in Penngrove. This would have been what is addressed today as 2386 Goodwin Avenue. Mrs. Goodwin is described as a native of Rhode Island. The article continues with the statement that her body was taken to San Francisco for burial “Wednesday afternoon from the Goodwin residence at 1313 Taylor Street.”
The CDNC has made the Sonoma Democrat (1857-1897) and the Press Democrat (1883-1922) accessible for free to the public thanks to a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.
The San Francisco Call, also available via the CDNC, provided a bit more information by stating that Mrs. Lydia W. Goodwin, the wife of J.P. Goodwin, died at her country home at Penngrove at the age of 79 years. Her maiden name was Keller and she came from an eminent American family (San Francisco Call, June 17, 1896).
Again, referring to the San Francisco Call I find that James P. Goodwin, a pioneer resident of San Francisco, died February 24, 1900, at his residence, 1313 Taylor Street. The Call article states that Mr. Goodwin came to San Francisco in January of 1850 where he was engaged in the furniture business, later establishing Goodwin & Co. on Pine Street. Mr. Goodwin retired in 1885 and “had enjoyed his leisure at his ranch in Sonoma County and at his late residence on Taylor Street” ever since. The family had resided in what the Call reporter described as a landmark residence for the past 37 years (San Francisco Call, February 25, 1900).
The San Francisco Call was digitized through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and is part of the National Digital Newspaper Program. Titles digitized as part of the NDNP are available both here and at the Library of Congress Chronicling America website.
Interested in knowing more about the Goodwins, Penngrove or any other aspect of Sonoma County history? Then get in touch with me and the others I am fortunate to work with at the Sonoma County History & Genealogy Library. We are temporarily located at the Santa Rosa Central Library while our building – the “Annex” – receives some facility upgrades.