About the Letters
Griffing & Goodrich Family Histories
1846-1852, College Years
1852-1853, Traveling in Midwest
1854, Starting Church in Indianapolis
1854-1856, Bleeding Kansas
1857-1861, Territorial Life
1861-1865, Civil War
1866 - 1877, Reconstruction Period
1878-1882, Ministering to Freedmen

This rare collection of letters and journal entries authored by James S. Griffing and J. Augusta Goodrich span the period from 1841 to 1882. James and Augusta grew up within one mile of each other in an area known as Goodrich Settlement, west of Owego, in Tioga County, New York. James attended the Owego Academy before earning a scholarship to Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. To defray the expense of room and board while attending college, James taught select schools in Kensington and Westchester, Connecticut as well as Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, and Kings Ferry, New York.  He wrote letters to his fiancÚ Augusta from each of these locations and other eastern seaboard cities he visited while in college, including such places as Baltimore, New York City, and Washington D.C.

After graduating from Wesleyan in 1852, James peddled maps in the Midwest to repay his college debts -- an occupation that took him to most of the major cities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Early in 1854, he joined the Methodist ministry in Indianapolis and started a church. No sooner than his church was completed, the Northern Indiana Conference reassigned him to the Kansas & Nebraska Territory, just opened for settlement. Here in late 1854, after an overland journey in covered wagon, Rev. James Griffing began his career as a circuit rider. A year later, he returned to Owego to marry Augusta and together they returned to "Bleeding Kansas" where James labored for twenty-five years as a Methodist minister in Kansas. His last years were devoted to assisting the freedmen who came to Kansas in large numbers following the end of Reconstruction.


The Diaries & Letters of Ralph Leland Goodrich

Read the diaries & correspondence of Ralph L. Goodrich (1836-1897), younger brother of Augusta Goodrich. Ralph graduated from Hobart College in 1858, taught school in the South on the eve of the American Civil War, and then joined the 6th Arkansas (Confederate) Infantry. Read more.


This page was last updated on 02/16/11.