This letter was written by Sarah Parker (Rice) Goodwin (1805-1896), a native of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the daughter of William and Abigail (Parker) Rice, and the wife of New Hampshire’s Civil War governor, Ichabod Crane. At the time this letter was written in 1830, the couple had two children: Abby Rice Goodwin (1829-Aft1900) and Hope Goodwin (1830-Aft1900), both of whom are mentioned.
Ichabod Goodwin (1794-1882) was born in South Berwick, Maine. After attending Berwick Academy, Goodwin moved to Portsmouth and at the age of 14 began his business training under Samuel Lord, a prominent Portsmouth merchant and ship owner. In 1817 Goodwin was sent to sea as supercargo aboard the ship ELIZABETH WILSON out of Portsmouth. He later served aboard the same vessel as 2nd mate, 1st mate, and in 1819 as Captain. 1821 Goodwin was Master of the ship HITTY and in 1824 he was part-owner of the ship MARION as well as Master for her maiden voyage in 1825. Goodwin’s last command was in 1832 aboard the ship SARAH PARKER which was named for his wife and of which he was also part-owner.
The extent of Goodwin’s business association was immense and he was involved in a majority of the prominent enterprises in Portsmouth of the time. In 1832 he founded and organized the Portsmouth Whaling Company and was listed as President in 1839. In 1850 he was President of the Portsmouth Steam Factory, a 6-story Textile Mill containing 21,000 spindles and 450 looms. 2,500,000 yards of cloth were produced every year and the factory employed 380 people. Goodwin was also involved in the extension of the steam railway, serving as President of the Eastern Railroad in New Hampshire for twenty years, and as President of the Portland, Saco & Portsmouth Railroad until after 1871. His Presidencies and Directorships included several banks, utilities, and benevolent societies.
Ichabod Goodwin also had a significant political career, serving as a member of the New Hampshire legislature from 1838 to 1856, and as a member of New Hampshire’s Constitutional Convention in 1850 and 1876. Goodwin was elected Governor of the State of New Hampshire in 1859 and was re-elected in 1860, serving until June 5, 1861. Goodwin died in 1882 at the age of 87.
Addressed to Capt. Ischabod Goodwin of Ship Sarah Parker, care of Martineau Smith & Co., Liverpool, England
Portsmouth [New Hampshire]
February 4th 1831
Again dear husband am I compelled to address my communications to you across the wide Atlantic. When not separated by an ocean, when one land holds both, I feel comparatively very near to you. Yet in a view of three thousand miles between us, the distance seems chilling. But a sailor’s wife seems condemned to every vicissitude of feeling which such circumstances are like to call forth and her only alternatives are patience and hope. You mentioned in your last that you should be satisfied if you succeeded in getting away from Mobile by the last of January. Pa’ says you will not before the middle of this month, but I know you will make all dispatch and feel as if you are about getting away at this time. I hope you have enjoyed yourself in Mobile, and presume it must depend a good deal on one’s boarding house whether one does or not. You did not mention whether you boarded at the same house with Capt. Davis or not. I should think you might be more pleasantly situated with them than elsewhere.
I think you must have enjoyed the evening you spent in Mrs. Davis’s room making molasses candy. I wish I could have been there. I should have enjoyed it highly. Pa’ has just this moment brought me a most acceptable and affectionate letter from you. I handed him the draft which occupied a part of the sheet & he will attend to it. You say you expect to be away in ten or twelve days, that you passed your time very agreeably, received a good deal of attention &c., all of which I am very glad to hear and I trust that you may continue to find all things as agreeable throughout the voyage & while you are absent. You probably will receive one letter in Liverpool which I have directed to Mobile, as it cannot reach you if you sail as soon as you expect.
We have had rather a singular winter so far, not having had one days good sleighing. We have had plenty of snow but it has drifted so in heaps as to have half bare ground. Alexander Rice called yesterday & invited Hannah & myself to accompany him with our girls to Kittery this afternoon. I believe the sleighing is better than it has been although it has rained many hours since the snow fall. Marcia has nearly recovered & I feel very happy that I have an opportunity at last of seeing her. Her babe is about three months old.
You express much solicitude in your letter about Abby. She is now very well & still talks a great deal about her dear father as she calls you. Hope is still growing better of her complaints, & to use Abby’s expression, is quite a nice baby. Emily is still in Portsmouth. She hears frequently from William who mentioned in his last letter to her that he had received a letter from you wherein she was almost the only theme. She read it with some other particulars contained in the letter aloud to Pa’, Betsy & Eliza!!! She is, I believe, very burthensome to herself, or at least that seems to be the common impression.
There was a famous christening at Mr. G. Rice’s last Sunday afternoon. All Mr. Rice’s children & De Chase’s were christened by Mr. [Charles H.] Burroughs. ¹ Pa’, Betsy, Mr. & Mrs. Burroughs & sister & Uncle Rice’s family were present & stopped to tea. I believe there was a good deal of splendor on the occasion.
There was quite a large party at Capt. James Kinnard’s last week. After the company had assembled, they were surprised by the entrance of someone whom they did not immediately recognize owing to his making up so many tours, but after a few moments Mr. Corus was enabled to compose himself sufficiently to appear precisely as he used to do. He observed to one of the company that he had to make a great effort &c. &c. Queer, where was the need?
Hannah desires her love & Pa’ also desired to be remembered to you. I am as ever your truly affectionate, — Sarah P. R. Goodwin
¹ Charles H. Burroughs, a Master’s graduate from Harvard (A.M. 1806) was installed as rector of the Episcopal Church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1808 although he was not ordained until 1812. He served as pastor until his retirement in 1858. Burroughs was very active in community affairs, among which he was a founder of the Portsmouth Athenaeum, the Portsmouth Lyceum, and the Howard Benevolent Society, and served on the Portsmouth school board and as a director of Philips Exeter Academy and Hampton Academy.