Gen. Ichabod Goodwin (1743-1829), militia leader and sheriff by Paula Bennett

Paula Bennett is the author of Imagining Ichabod: My Journey into 18th-Century America through History, Food, and a Georgian House.

The property known as Old Fields was in the Spencer family in the latter half of the 17th century at the juncture of today’s Oldfields Road, Brattle Street and Vine Street and including Vaughan Lane, that leads to the Jonathan Hamilton property of Historic New England. This area has been the site of the archaeological dig conducted by Dr. Neill De Paoli from 2011-2015, and can be found on the illustrated map in Everett Stackpole’s The First Permanent Settlement in Maine. The house, the land and the outbuildings were purchased by the first Ichabod Goodwin in 1740. Descendants of this first Ichabod remained at Old Fields until 1958, when Elizabeth Hayes Goodwin moved to the Sarah Orne Jewett House, where she served as caretaker and tour guide until the 1970s.

Here in this area of Old Fields was the original center of Berwick, where the first cluster of homes were built by families with significant ties to early Berwick--the Spencers, the Chadbournes, the Goodwins and the Moores. Berwick’s first meetinghouse was just around the corner on today’s Old South Road, a few hundred yards away from the property, with the local cemetery equally nearby on the opposite side at the juncture of Oldfields Road and Vine and Brattle streets. 

It was here that the first Ichabod Goodwin traveled with his wife, Elizabeth Scammon Goodwin, and their three children. They came up the rutted ox-cart trail, the precursor to today’s Oldfields Road. Remains of that rutted road can still be seen today, at the edge of the property where the Goodwin home still stands on the promontory overlooking the fields of the Hamilton House and the Salmon Falls River. The Goodwins, along with their fellow townsmen would have benefited from the location of the busy wharves at the edge of the Salmon Falls River (then known as the Newichawannock) where the two-masted brigs that had crossed the Atlantic Ocean brought manufactured British goods needed for the growing community and then returned with much-needed raw materials such as lumber and furs for the Mother country. Those ships would have officers and crews on board, men eager to avail themselves of the food, drink and lodging in the tavern that had been established at Old Fields in 1699 by the Spencer family, a tavern continued by Ichabod Goodwin until 1769. 

Mehitable Plaisted Goodwin, daughter of Roger Plaisted and wife of Thomas Goodwin, lived in Berwick during the tumultuous period known as King William’s War. She was immortalized in the Magnalia Christi Americana of Cotton Mather, the famed preacher of Salem. In this opus, Mather recounted the story of Mehitable’s travails as a captive of a Wabanaki war party. Taken captive in the attack of 1691, Mehitable was separated from her husband, Thomas, and forced to march to Canada. During that arduous journey her infant son was murdered. Upon her return, she discovered her husband still alive, and the couple re-settled in Berwick where, in 1700, Mehitable gave birth to Ichabod, the first Goodwin to settle at Old Fields.

This prominent Berwick family impacted, and was impacted by, all of the struggles of a young America: the ever-present threat of the war parties of the Wabanaki confederacy and their allies, the French; the growing economy after those wars, interrupted by the war with Britain, and then even faster-paced growth by the end of the eighteenth century. 

Captain Ichabod Goodwin (1700-1777) married 1729 to Elizabeth Scammon  

General Ichabod Goodwin (1743-1829) married 1768 to Mary Wallingford 

Andrew Goodwin (1784-1843) married 1818 to Elizabeth Wallingford 

Ichabod Goodwin (1819-1869) married 1850 to Sophia Hayes 

Elizabeth Hayes Goodwin (1895-1992)

In 1729, Ichabod married Elizabeth Scammon. By the time the couple moved onto the Old Fields property they had three children and would eventually have four more children.  Their third son Ichabod would be the next to run the property. Like many families at the time, two of Elizabeth’s children would die in infancy, but we know that Hannah and Mary married and had children of their own. And in 1768, Ichabod would marry Mary Wallingford and sire twelve children of his own.

The first Ichabod Goodwin at Old Fields wore many hats, as was typical young country where there was insufficient labor for the numerous tasks needed for a town to thrive. During his tenure at Old Fields, Ichbaod served as deacon of the First Church of Berwick, ran a successful blacksmith shop, acted as sheriff and was appointed to a commission tasked with improving conditions at Quamphegan Landing (near today’s Counting House Museum). 

In 1758, during another round of warfare with the French and Native Americans, Ichabod Goodwin raised his own militia to travel to Fort Ticonderoga on the border of New York and Vermont, thus earning himself the rank of Captain. There, accompanied by his then fifteen-year-old son, the second Ichabod and future heir of Old Fields, the captain was wounded during the humiliating defeat of the British and American troops. Some years later, the Massachusetts Bay Colony would pay him a small sum for his injuries.

In addition, Ichabod Goodwin was a tavern keeper, or “innholder” as he was referred to in the numerous ads regarding meetings being held in the inn. Records found in the York county courthouse show licenses being granted to Goodwin for most years through 1769. These institutions were a vital component of colonial life, serving as a respite for weary travelers, a place for a meal and a bed, and of course, some liquid refreshment. But taverns had other, equally significant missions. Not only could a farmer learn the latest prices for wool or corn, and his fellow townsmen could hear of local news, but these citizens would find out about the latest affronts of the British King and the colonies’ proposed responses. The tavern was seen as so important, its continuity so fundamental, that if the innholder died, his widow was allowed to step into her husband’s shoes.  The tavern was also where citizens were ordered to go when it was time to pay their taxes.  So we see Ichabod Goodwin, “innholder” in ads placed in the Boston Post-Boy in 1743, 1744 and 1745, informing his fellow townsmen that they must attend a meeting on a specific day in order for the latest tax to be collected.  

Records found in the York county courthouse show licenses being granted to Goodwin for most years through 1769. Numerous fragments of clay pipes, wine flasks and stoneware tankards found during the archaeological dig between 2011 and 2015; county courthouse records showing many yearly licenses being granted to Goodwin through 1769; and these newspaper advertisements; all attest to the presence of a busy tavern here at Old Fields. 

There were other ads in the mid-1700s where you will find the name of Ichabod Goodwin, these placed by Goodwin himself. These postings offered rewards for Pompey and SaraJohn, his runaway slaves, an African slave and a Native American, respectively. Although we do not always think of slavery as being prevalent in colonial New England, this terrible institution did extend into all of the northern colonies, including the Massachusetts Bay Colony of which Maine was then a part. During his tenure at Old Fields, Ichabod Goodwin owned five human beings, four of African descent and the one Native American. In 1777, Captain Ichabod Goodwin’s last year of life,  his final probate  inventory assigns monetary value to two of his remaining slaves, with an additional slave having no assigned value as she was too old.

In November of 1777, Captain Ichabod Goodwin died, his wife, Elizabeth, having “made her exit” (a phrase to denote someone’s death as seen in 18th century diaries) three years earlier. The estate was divided among their many surviving children with the main house and farmlands left to the second Ichabod Goodwin, a loyal patriot throughout the Revolutionary War and a staunch Federalist thereafter.

In 1775 and 1776, the town of Berwick chose Ichabod Goodwin, the captain’s son, to attend the Provincial Congress in Watertown, Massachusetts, to deliver a petition to the congress to consider the vulnerable position of the seacoast region and to pledge support to their fellow citizens in Boston. Leaving his wife, Mary Wallingford Goodwin, or Molly, Ichabod commenced the three to four-day journey to Watertown. At the gathering, we can imagine the now Lieutenant Colonel Goodwin exchanging pleasantries with such well known attendees as Samuel Adams and John Hancock. He was tasked with developing ideas on the proper treatment of the wounded and corresponding with Commander-in-Chief George Washington to advise him of their findings. Another early assignment was to dispense money to citizens of York County in exchange for guns and ammunition. 

In 1778, the Lieutenant Colonel was deployed to Cambridge, Massachusetts where he was headquartered to oversee the British and Hessian prisoners of “convention” after the Battle of Saratoga in New York. He held that position from April through June and dealt with problems such as smallpox, spoiled provisions and deserting soldiers. The following year, Ichabod was sent to the Castine Peninsula, where he was involved in the devastating loss to the British during the Penobscot Campaign- a joint army/navy campaign which resulted in the most significant American naval defeat up until Pearl Harbor.

Following the conclusion of the war and the 1783 Treaty of Paris, Colonel Ichabod Goodwin continued to devote himself to the functioning of both his town and the new nation. In 1787 he was elevated to the rank of Major General of the 6th Division Militia of York, Maine. Documentation in 1789 shows him as presiding over the meeting of his fellow citizens to review the draft of the new Constitution of the United States; as president of the committee to determine if York County should separate from Massachusetts; and, as sheriff of Berwick beginning in 1793 until 1820, when Maine became an independent state. In 1797, General Goodwin led the townsmen of Berwick in offering grand toasts to the newly inaugurated president, John Adams. In 1812, he is again active in a fight against the British, this time during the War of 1812, and once more concerned with the region’s vulnerable seacoast, his enlisted troops are sent to defend the area of Kittery Point.

General Goodwin was active in one other significant event in the early years of Berwick, one with a most enduring impact on the town, its children, and its economy. In 1791, Ichabod was part of a group of prominent men, gentlemen such as Jonathan Hamilton and Judge Benjamin Chadbourne, who contributed funds for the establishment of one of the town’s lasting local treasures, Berwick Academy. The school continues to this day, including that first building constructed in 1791, its mission of providing a high quality education to students of the Berwicks and beyond. From 1826-1828, the General served as president of the Board of Trustees of this venerable institution.

In May of 1829, General Ichabod Goodwin passed away, preceded by his wife, Molly, four years before. His son, Andrew then took the helm of the family homestead, his older brother, the third Ichabod of Old Fields having died in 1814, possibly due to that year’s outbreak of typhus. 

(Written by Paula Bennett. Sources used for this article include the Old Berwick Historical Society archives, including the Old Fields Archaeology reports of Dr. Neill De Paoli; news articles and advertisements on; and Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War.)