After mustering out of the 5th Kansas Cavalry on the 11th of August 1864, Augusta's brother James J. Goodrich moved to Junction City where he earned wages as a civilian supplying military posts on the Kansas frontier. Sometime in 1867, he moved to Salina where he entered into a partnership with Evander and Norman (aka "Dock") Light in the freighting business, taking goods to and from the military posts as well as to the new settlements in Colorado. It was a risky business due to the open warfare that existed with the plains Indians.
The series of letters presented here include two letters that were written by James Goodrich in late 1866 and early 1867 that give some insight to his employment as a civilian laborer before forming the aforementioned partnership. The letter dated September 1868 was written within two months of his death, which occurred on November 24th near Walnut Creek, south of Fort Hays, Kansas. According to records at the Center for Historical Research at Topeka, James Goodrich was accidentally killed when he was run over by a wagon. [For a map of the trail and a description of the Army's efforts to rush supplies from Fort Hayes to Fort Dodge during the fall of 1868, see "An Old Trail Plowed Under -- Hayes to Dodge, Kansas Historical Quarterly, Autumn, 1977.]
At the time of James Goodrich's death in late 1868, James and Augusta were living in Junction City where James was serving his appointment and apparently very busy with a series of revival meetings. There are a few letters presented here describing James attempt to gather information about the value of his brother-in-law's estate. In January, Stephen Goodrich made the journey to Kansas to bring his brother's body back to his hometown of Owego, New York. These letters suggest that the cost may have proven prohibitive, however, as James Goodrich was eventually laid to rest in the Topeka Cemetery next to the graves of James Griffing's brother Henry and Henry's young son John.
Dear Sister [Augusta],
I have just returned from Fort Ellsworth  whare I have been hawling wood for the last month. Should have answered your letter before this if I could have got it. I went to Topeka one night & come back the next day. Done my buisness & stayed at Nancy [Orcutt’s]. They are all well. [Her brother] Jake has not got back yet. She expects him every day.
Have not heard from home yet since I got in from Ft. Lyon. I want to send money to pay the tax on my part of the back lot & I don’t want to write to them untill I hear from them. The [wagon] train is going to load for Denver City this week & if they can sell it there, they will. Perhaps they will winter there before they can sell it. They want me to go. I don’t know as I shall go. If I go, shall see a pretty hard trip. There is no danger from the Indians I think. I have been considerable amongst them this year. They have not done anything on the rout that I have been on. If I should go, I will write some whare on the rout.
I will send 5 dollars in this to help to buy the spectacles [for Ma]. I have got a cold & do not feel very well. Should like to have some of your apples to eat. Do not think I can go to see you this winter. From your brother, -- James Goodrich
Dear Sister [Augusta],
I received your letter of the 28 Feb yesterday. Were glad to hear all were well. I should have wrote to you before I did, but I did not have time going to Denver. I did not get my letters from you or Ma there. We could not get any thing to do thare with the [wagon] train that would pay to stay thare & so we came back. Have had a nice time since I got back only to take care of the mules.
Are going out agen this week to Big Creek eight miles from Fort Fletcher. Will take two or three weeks to make the trip thare & back. If the roads are good, I should like to go down to Manhattan & see [your husband] James this week [while he is attending the Annual Kansas Conference] but I can’t unless I quit the train & I want to work awhile longer untill warm weather. I think that I shall go west of here pretty soon [and] go into something myself.
I heard from the 5 dollars before I received your letter. I wrote to you & ma the same time & got hers two days before I got yours & I answered it the next day. All were well. Ma liked her spectacles.
Herbert [Goodrich] did not do very well last summer [in Denver]. Produce of every kind is cheeper thare than here & wages are from 50 to 60 dollars per month in the spring & summer. He said he should not farm it this next year. He told me he was going to stay thare untill he made all the money that he wanted. He has some mining claims & I think he is going to work them this year.
I do not see what [our brother] Ralph stays in Little Rock for if he is not doing well. The last I heard of that Storms, he was some officer in an Arkansas Reg. I did not know that he was thare. I suppose you do not know whare you will go untill after Conference. You must write when you get to your place. Perhaps I can go & see you in a month or so.
[My brother] Steve & [brother-in-law] Gurd want me to send them wolf skins enough to make each a robe. Shall do it as soon as I can get them. Does Mary recholeck me; & Willy? [Your daughter] Sarah I have not seen yet. Should like to go & see you very much. I do not know of anything more to write. Love to all. Ever your affe. brother. Excuse this. – James Goodrich
Dear Sister [Augusta],
You may think I have lost my topknot by not hearing from me. But I have not [as] you will perceive by this. I left Hays last Saturday. Had good luck all the time. Lost one mule coming down – the only one since we had them. Went to Hays all right with these mules that were stolen. The Indians have been purty bad but they did not troubel us or the stock. I think we have been very lucky in not loosing our mules or scalps. We are six miles from Salina putting up hay. Have to put up 300 tuns. Will be here two or three weeks.
I suppose you have had plenty of peaches on your place. Should have liked to had some of them. They were five cents apiece in Hays & apples the same. Have not heard from home in a long time. Shall try & write tonight a few lines to let them know that I am all right. I don’t know what else to write so good by. Love to all. Your aff. brother. – James J. Goodrich
Dear Augusta and James,
We have just got your letter containing the dreadful news of James’ death. We wish [for] you James to go on and do the best you can. And if there are administrators to be appointed, we wish you and Stephen to be appointed. If it is necessary, Stephen will go on, and we wish that his body could be brought here. Stephen will go on and have it brought here if it is known where he is buried. We want you should go on and do as you would if it were your own brother. I hope something can be saved of all his property. Stephen can go if it is necessary. We wish you to write immediately and hope you will gain all the information you can about him. I cannot write more. All are usually well here. Goodbye from your Mother.
O how his life has been a hard one – poor boy. Did he take up all his money in Topeka? Has that Capt. paid him? I wish [your husband] James could find out about his business if he can. Write soon. I want his body brought here.
January 4, 1869
Yours of 26th inst. is just rec’d. Light is here & has arranged to go up to Hays City with us on the 6th. The [wagon] train is at Hays and we must go up once to take an inventory. Come up here tomorrow night prepared to go to Hay’s City. You will find my son at the depot with a lantern, who will show you the way to my house. Come at once and we will have Wednesday to fix up papers, preparatory to making the inventory &c. Truly yours, -- Gilbert G. Lowe
My Dear Cutie [Augusta],
We shall not get started from this place until tonight’s train about 7 o’clock and will only run out to Ellsworth tonight and then start from there for Fort Hays in the morning at 5 o’clock and will not get to Hays until late in the forenoon tomorrow (Thursday). If we can do our business before next train, I can get started back Friday sometime. I am obliged to be at the expense of paying the fare of three appraisers out from this County, which I am afraid will use up all my funds as I have to pay board & traveling fees out & back – also $3 a day apiece for time employed. How I wish I could see you all tonight & know how the meetings progress & share in the benefits myself. How are you feeling Dear? Trust all to the Savior. I hope the meeting will prove a great blessing to yourself as well as others & that [Rev.] Br. Duvall  will not get discouraged. Should anything occur that I cannot get home before Sabbath, I hope arrangements will be made for someone to fill my place. How bad it was that I had to leave. Pray for me my Dear, that my life may be spared & that God may overrule all for the very best good. Yours ever, -- J. S. Griffing
My Dear Cutie [Augusta],
We started from Salina with last evening’s [wagon] train. It came up to this point and stopped until 5 o’clock this morning. After getting as far as here, we found Mr. Evander Light  and he told us it was unnecessary for us to go any farther as the [wagon] train was on its way down to this place & would probably be in this evening. So we have to stay at this point & wait for it. [Your brother] James’ partner did not go out on this trip and did not get the letter in time to send by his men to have the body brought in. Says James was buried in a box about five feet in depth so that he will not be disturbed by the wolves. Neither of them have kept any book accounts and everything is in a bad shape to get at. We are obliged in the settlement [of James’ estate] to depend upon verbal statements with his affidavit attached. I was obliged to take three appraisers through from Saline County and pay their fare to Hays at $8.65 each and I have succeeded in getting along thus far at half fare. So you see I am considerable out of pocket and the prospects are that James’ partner will bring the firm in debt between 3 & three hundred dollars so that the prospect of my saving to the estate the money that James had when he went into business [is poor]. It’s too bad but I can’t help myself. I feel a little blue today. It looks so much like a storm. I am keeping my men in a hotel here where I expect it will come to about $3 apiece per day for board. I have procured a book in which to copy all the business that I can find the firm has done since the partnership commenced. And if Mr. Light will not buy out James’ half of the [wagon] train, I don’t know what I can do. And if he does buy, I expect he will want it on time. So I am in a sort of quandary what I had better do. Should the [wagon] train get in by 4 o’clock, I think we can take an inventory of the effects to take tonight’s train down as far as Evander Light’s and then I can come down on Saturday morning’s train. I hope you are all well & that you are having good meetings at Junction [City]. I hope you & the children will keep well. The business I am trying to do is by no means desirable but as I have commenced, I hope I may get through all right and give satisfaction so far as any part of the work is concerned. Pray for me. I just learned that there were three negroes hung [for murder] last evening at Hays City. Had we gone on we should probably have been in there at the time. This is a barren country & not a very desirable one to live in. Yours, -- J. S. Griffing
This indenture made this 8th day of January A.D. 1869 between James S. Griffing, administrator of the estate of James Goodrich, deceased, late of Saline County in the State of Kansas, and Evander Light of said county and State. Witnesseth that the said party of the first part hath agreed to sell unto the party of the second part the interest of the said James Goodrich aforesaid, late of the firm of N. Light & Co. to and in one certain Mule Team for the sum of one thousand, nine hundred fourteen and 92/100 dollars together with the interest of the said James Goodrich to and in any credits due the said firm of N. Light & Co. or to become due on account of and for freighting. And the said party of the second part hereby agrees to and with the said party of the first part that he will assume and pay all debts owing by said firm so as to forever release the said estate from all liability on account of said firm. In witness whereof the parties to these presents have hereunto set their hands this 8th day of January A. D. 1869
Griffing – administrator of Estate of James Goodrich, deceased
Dear Sister [Augusta],
I suppose that you are some alarmed about me by this time, but it has been so that I could not send a letter if I wrote one. When I got to Salina, I found that Mr. [Evander] Light was at home so I went rite up on the train to his house and when I got there, they were expecting [his brother] Doc[k] [Light] down the next morning so I staid there to see him but he did not come so I came up here and found him. He is not going out to Hays now. Evander says he will come down here tomorrow and we will see if we can have the body brought in by some train. If not, I will go out to Hays. If I go, I will let you know. This is a hard place you bet. I hope the meetings are as good as when I left. Love to all. – Stephen Goodrich
Dear Sister [Augusta],
I have heard that Mr. Byers train is at Hays now and I will go down there today at one o’clock and try and have him bring James’ [body] in. – Stephen Goodrich
Dear Sister [Augusta],
I arrived at this place last night at dark and could not do anything until this morning. I found that Mr. Byers was going to Ellsworth as there was no freighting at this place. I could not get the government trains to get [James’ body] unless I went out with them so I proquired a man to go out and get the body from this place for 40 dollars. It was the best I could do. It will cost $35.50 to take it to Topeka. I will have money enough to go so far but I think that will take all that I have got. You had better write at once to have them send me some at your place. Write for 50 dollars. If the man has good luck, he will be here in time to have me take the morning train on Thursday. I have made a box [for James’ body] and sent out with the man. – Stephen Goodrich
Dear Brother James,
Your letter came to hand in due time and I was glad to hear that the meetings were still in progress and that so many had joyned the church. It must be pleasing to you and encourage you in your work.
We are all well except colds. Mother has taken some and I have had one ever since I was with you. The weather is still cold and the sleighing good and has been so since the first of December. I begin to wish that the snow would go off and the spring open so that I would have something to do. It is so cold that there is no building and no sand to draw and we have done all our other work.
I will send you fifty-two dollars by draft with this which I think will be enough for the taxes [on James’ property] and I wish you would send me some paper to show that I have done so for I think it best to be safe if anything should happen to either of us. We think that if you can sell the land of a thousand dollars, that you had better do so. But do not sell for anything less. I hope you will get a good price for your corn. I have not got time to write anymore now. Write as soon as you get this. – Stephen Goodrich
J. Goodrich Tombstone in Topeka Cemetery
Office of Lowe, Mohler & Hiller,
James S. Griffing,
Yours of 22nd
[was] received and I have waited a few days to see Mr. Light. He has promised
always to pay it and has as often disappointed me. I saw him yesterday and he
promised to pay it within ten days. I told him it must be settled
at once or I should commence suit so you may expect it within ten days or
at least by the 10th inst. I regret to disappoint you so often but could not
force the matter more than I have for I have [already] made one trip to
Ellsworth on this matter and to his house once. It will come this time or I
will bring it. Respectfully, -- G. G. Lowe
 Fort Ellsworth was established in 1864 to provide protection from Indians to the Kansas Stage Line and military wagon trains traveling the Fort Riley Road and Smoky Hill Trail. Beginning in 1865, the Smoky Hill Trail became a very popular shortcut to the Santa Fe Trail and served as an alternate route to Denver. In November of 1866 – the very month of James Goodrich’s letter – the post was renamed Fort Harker. It served as a supply depot and distribution point for all the forts in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and northern Texas.
 Fort Lyon was in southeastern Colorado, not far from Bent’s Fort on the northern route of the Santa Fe Trail. A military garrison was stationed there throughout the 1860’s.
 Fort Fletcher, named for Missouri Governor Thomas C. Fletcher, was established on October 11, 1865. It was located 14 miles southeast of present day Hays. Some time during the winter of 1866-67, the name was changed to Fort Hays in honor of Major General Alexander Hays, who had been killed in 1864 during the Civil War Battle of the Wilderness. A flood on Big Creek on or about June 3, 1867 prompted the relocation of the Fort to near present day Hays. The fort was established to provide protection to the railroad builders and settlers who were moving into central and western Kansas. Fort Fletcher was located on the Smoky Hill Trail, a stagecoach road to Denver and later the route of the Kansas Pacific Railroad
 Rev. Richard P. Duvall was serving the circuit in nearby Manhattan during this timeframe. Perhaps Griffing & Duvall had teamed together to lead the revival meetings underway at the time of these letters.
 Evander Light was James Goodrich’s partner in the freighting business. Evander was born in February 1840, the son of Hiram Light (1808-1867) and Elizabeth Henion of Putnam County, New York. In 1861, Evander enrolled in Company E, 1st Colorado Infantry which later became the 1st Colorado Cavalry. He was mustered out of the service in November 1864 and moved to Saline County, Kansas with his wife Susan in 1866. Evander would eventually settle in Chambers County, Texas and play a significant role in rounding up the outlaws known as the Roark Gang. See "Rounding up the Roark Gang" by Chris Penn, Wild West, April 2003
 James Goodrich was buried initially near the location of his death, which was on Walnut Creek – probably in Rush County somewhere enroute between Fort Larned and Fort Hays, Kansas.
 Ministers in Kansas were allowed half-fare rates on the railroads.