John Noble Goodwin (1824-1887), Maine congressman and Arizona governor

John Noble Goodwin House

c. 1850 – John Noble Goodwin House - 297 Main Street

This house is part of the South Berwick Village District on the National Register of Historic Places. Both this house and one across the street torn down in the 1990s seem to have belonged to the family of Congressman John Noble Goodwin (1824-1887), who practiced law from the building known as the Odd Fellows’ Block. He served as state attorney and prosecuted important arson and murder cases in South Berwick in the early 1850s. In 1854, he was elected to the Maine State Senate, and in 1860 to Congress. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln appointed him the first governor of the territory of Arizona.

John Noble Goodwin was born in North Berwick, according to "A Pictorial  History of North Berwick," 1976. The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress gives his birthplace as South Berwick. His parents, John Goodwin and Mary Noble, both of South Berwick, were married June 12, 1823, at the Second Church of Berwick, according to the Records of the First and Second Churches of Berwick, Maine.

Goodwin attended Berwick Academy and Dartmouth College, graduating in 1844. Papers in the archives of the Counting House Museum indicate he was practicing law in South Berwick in the 1840s.  In the 1850s he lived on Main Street, South Berwick.

Goodwin's role in local arson and murder cases occurred during the temperance controversy in Maine. In 1854 Goodwin was elected to the Maine State Senate. In 1860 he was elected to Congress as a Republican.

Congressman John Noble Goodwin was associated with several properties in South Berwick village, as shown at right on an excerpt of a map covering Portland and Main Streets in 1856.

John Noble GoodwinWhen Goodwin lost his reelection bid in 1862, Lincoln appointed him, in 1863, chief justice of Arizona, then a largely unsettled new western territory where silver had just been discovered and battles with Native Americans were being fought. As the party of new officials made their way west, the governor Lincoln had appointed suddenly took ill and died. Lincoln appointed Goodwin in his place, as the Arizona territory’s first governor, based in the frontier capital of Prescott.

In Prescott, Governor John Noble Goodwin is still remembered today, and his log cabin, the first governor’s mansion, preserved at the Sharlott Hall Museum.

Scenes in and around Prescott, Arizona:


Country around Prescott

Goodwin Street and the Courthouse

Gurley Street with Thumb Butte.

Governor's Mansion

Governor's Bed

Governor's Desk

Display case with Goodwin's photo.

Granite Creek


Granite Creek, where prospectors panned for
gold in John Noble Goodwin’s day,
still flows through Prescott


After being succeeded as governor, Goodwin represented Arizona in Congress through 1867, then retired from politics. He died in California in 1887 and was buried in Augusta, Maine.

(Summary and Arizona photos by Wendy Pirsig.  This page was revised February 2021.)