The Homestead Act of 1862 opened up the American West to settlement. Any person (a citizen or someone who intended to become a citizen) could apply for a section of land (160 acres) in any one of the “public domain states”. “Public domain states” were all the states except for the 13 original states and Maine, Vermont, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Texas. There were other conditions that also had to be met: the person must be the head of a family, or a single person over 21, who had never fought against the United States. The land had to be surveyed, and the homesteader had to pay a fee to claim the land temporarily. He had six months to begin living on the land, and had to live on the land continuously for five years, after which, the government would issue a patent or deed for the land. During those five years the homesteader must build a dwelling and cultivate some of the land. 1
The Goodman home stood in the small southern Arizona town of St. David. It was built about 1882 by William Nicholas Goodman, an English carpenter, and his sons, on land that was close to the St. David cemetery. 2
St. David was settled in 1877 by Philemon C. Merrill, a member of the Mormon Battalion who had passed through the San Pedro River Valley in 1846 on the Battalion’s overland march to San Diego, California. St. David was a tight-knit Mormon community. 3 Mormons are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and William Nicholas Goodman had joined the church in England in 1851. 4
When William was only 10 years of age his mother, Maria (Mary) died in 1854. A few years later, in 1857, William’s father, Thomas Goodman, also died. 5 William and his three siblings were left as orphans.
Perhaps feeling that there were more opportunities in pioneer America, and a chance to be with fellow members of their church, the Goodman brothers, William and Nathaniel, made the decision to leave England. They were among the 32,000 British and Irish converts to the Mormon church who, from 1847 to 1869, left their homelands for America. 6 William (20), and his younger brother, Nathaniel (13), left Liverpool, England on 14 May 1862 aboard the William Tapscott. The journey lasted 42 days and they docked in New York on 25 June 1862. 7 With Utah as their final destination, the Goodman brothers traveled first by rail, then steamboat on the Missouri River to Florence, Nebraska where they stayed for 2 weeks. There they gathered provisions and made the rest of the journey to the Salt Lake valley by wagon. They arrived in Utah in October 1862. 8
William remained in Utah until the early 1880s. With his health failing and seeking warmer temperatures, he moved his family to Arizona, arriving in Mesa in the fall of 1882. They stayed only a short time before heading further south. William had married Margarett Ann Taylor in 1864. 9 Together with their nine children, the Goodman family prepared to settle in St. David, Arizona. Margarett’s sister, Maria, lived in St. David with her husband, Joseph McRae. With Joseph McRae’s help, the Goodman’s made adobe bricks and built their home east of the McRae homestead. 10
William Nicholas Goodman died at age 43 on 8 March 1885 in St. David, only a few years after moving there. 11 Margarett and the children continued to live in the home William had built. As the children grew older, many bought land and raised their own families in St. David. The connection between the Goodman family and the McRae family continued with the 1893 marriage of Joseph Thomas Goodman, son of William Nicholas Goodman, to Annie Maria McRae, daughter of Joseph and Maria McRae. 12
In 1877 St. David was little more than a stone fort surrounded by crops of wheat and barley. Families like the Goodman’s worked extremely hard to build homes, cultivate land and provide a living for themselves, in conditions that were often difficult. Their legacy continues in St. David today where many of their descendants still live.
This post was written for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. Week 13 prompt: The Old Homestead
- Greg Bradsher, “How the West was Settled”, Prologue. Winter 2012. National Archives (https://www.archives.gov/files/publications/prologue/2012/winter/homestead.pdf : accessed 28 March 2018). ↩
- Life sketch of William Nicholas Goodman, no author noted. Familysearch.org (https:www.familysearch.org : accessed 28 March 2018). ↩
- Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._David,_Arizona : accessed 27 March 2018), St. David, Arizona. ↩
- Life sketch, p.1 ↩
- Life sketch, p. 2 ↩
- Encyclopedia of Mormonism, BYU Harold B. Lee Digital Collections (http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/British_Isles,_the_Church_in : accessed 28 March 2018), “The Church in British Isles”. ↩
- Mormon Migration (https://mormonmigration.lib.byu.edu/mii/voyage/435?query=William+Goodman&dateTo=&voyage=on&netherlands=on&passenger=on&scandinavia=on&sweden=on&mii=on&europe=on&account=on&dateFrom= : accessed 29 March 2018), “William Goodman.” ↩
- Larrabee, Caroline E. W. W., [Autobiography], Our Pioneer Heritage, Comp. By Kate B. Carter, vol. 17 (Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1974) pp. 290-292. ↩
- Life sketch, p. 1 ↩
- Life sketch, p. 1 ↩
- “Find A Grave Index,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/QVKV-CF4L : 13 December 2015), William Nichlas Goodman, 1885; Burial, Saint David, Cochise, Arizona, Saint David Cemetery; citing record ID 49710174, Find a Grave, http://www.findagrave.com. ↩
- California, County Birth, Marriage, and Death Records, 1849-1980, Marriage Register, 1891-1895, Ancestry (https: www. ancestry.com : accessed 29 March 2018), Annie McRae and Joseph Goodman, July 12, 1893. ↩
3 thoughts on “The Goodman family of St. David, Arizona”
I’ve driven through here and wondered if it was still a predominantly LDS town or not. Any idea?
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Luanne, yes, St David is still predominantly LDS. Many of the current families there are descended from early LDS pioneers.
Thanks for stopping by!
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I’ll tell my husband. We were both wondering when we were there!