As a young educator, finding work during the summer months is essential to supplement financial income. During the summer of 2008 I took my history degree and got a job giving house tours at Strawbery Banke, in Portsmouth, NH. Strawbery Banke is a lovely place to visit in the summer. A field trip favorite for local schools, Strawbery Banke welcomes visitors from all over the world each year and is located across the street from the very attractive Prescott Park. My duty was to stand post at a house and greet visitors, give a brief history of the home and its owners, and then entertain any questions.
My favorite house to work in was the mansion of the Goodwin family. The owners of the house were Ichabod and Sarah Goodwin. Ichabod was actually native to Maine but was the Governor of New Hampshire when the war broke out. The Goodwin family was quite wealthy due to Ichabod’s career at sea (which is very evident in the home’s decor) and his work with railroads. In 1841 he served as head of the Portland, Saco, and Portsmouth Railroad.
As a politician, Goodwin was a Whig. He ran for Congress in the 1850s but lost the election. As the Whig Party died out and the Republican Party increased in popularity, he ran as a Republican for Governor and won two straight terms (New Hampshire had one year terms then, it is now a two year term) serving as the 27th Governor in the State of New Hampshire from 1859-1861.
On April 12, 1861 shots rang out in Charleston, South Carolina Harbor when southern forces opened fire on Fort Sumter. In response, President Abraham Lincoln issued a call for 75,000 troops. New Hampshire’s legislature was not in session and there was no money to raise troops so Governor Goodwin took action. He took some of his own money, appealed to banks, and raised funds to outfit the first two regiments from New Hampshire.
After his time as Governor he would find continued success in various ventures such as steam power.
Interestingly, the mansion at Strawbery Banke was moved from its original location on Islington St across from Goodwin Park.
For more on Governor Goodwin:
Visit Strawbery Banke
Visit Goodwin Mansion
Note: Governor Goodwin’s wife Sarah Parker Rice was an amazing woman. The garden on the Strawbery Banke grounds is maintained to be accurate to her work as a gardener from the concise notes she kept. You can acquire literature on her here.