Eugene Goodwin and his mother,  taken prior to Civil War   Goodwin and grand-daughter Hazel,~ 1900

Eugene A. Goodwin was born at Hallowell, Maine, on April 10, 1831. His parents, of English ancestry, were John Goodwin and Nancy Springer Goodwin. Eugene was the second youngest of eleven children, including nine boys and two girls. John Goodwin was a sea captain and several of his sons also went to sea . 

While Eugene may also have gone to sea, he became a schoolteacher as a young man and taught several years in the Hackettstown, New Jersey region. He also taught in southern Ohio for a brief period. He joined the Methodist Church about age 16 and remained involved in the church his entire life. From his diary entries, it is obvious that he was very devout. He was also patriotic. He enlisted very early in the Civil War. He was present for the inaugural addresses of President Lincoln, both in 1861 and 1865. 

He enlisted in the Naval Brigade, which later became the 99th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, on June 14, 1861. He was discharged as a Sergeant on July 6, 1864. This regiment served as a shore guard and had a praiseworthy record. They were stationed near Fort Monroe, Hampton, and Norfolk, Virginia, for much of this period. This was also near the historic towns of Yorktown and Williamsburg. Eugene was a witness to the famous sea battle of the ironclads, the Monitor and Merrimac. He was also present on August 3, 1861, the first time that a manned balloon was used in wartime to provide intelligence. He participated in the battle and siege at Suffolk, Virginia, in 1863 and other combat actions. During the latter months of his enlistment, he was stationed in the New Bern, North Carolina, region. 

After his discharge in 1864, he returned to New Jersey and resumed school teaching. He married Sarah Louise Smith of Hackettstown on February 27, 1866. Two children were born, Edith May Goodwin Atkinson on June 23, 1868, and Edwin J. Goodwin on February 11, 1873. 

Goodwin Family Portrait, circa 1890

Eugene decided to change careers and obtained degrees from the Michigan College of Medicine, class of 1871, and the Long Island Hospital and New York College of Medicine. At Michigan, he was a classmate of Dr. Perry Engle of Newton, Iowa, who encouraged him to begin his medical practice in Iowa. 

Dr. Goodwin agreed and became a country doctor in Baxter in central Iowa. He purchased a 40-acre farm outside the town of Baxter and worked out of his home, traveling around the countryside to attend to his patients. His wife would assist with childbirths. He served as a well-respected doctor for many years.

He kept a detailed journal and account book describing the patient’s ailment, the treatment and method of payment for his services. He was often paid in chickens and eggs. To supplement his income, he farmed and grew various fruits. The photo below shows the fruit wagon used to distribute his products.


The Fruit Wagon, circa 1890

His daughter Edith May died in 1896 shortly after childbirth and the Goodwin’s raised their new granddaughter, Hazel. Other grandchildren, born to his son Edwin, were Russell Goodwin and Louise Goodwin McKlveen, the transcriber of Eugene’s Civil War diary.  

His wife died in 1904 and Dr. Goodwin gave up his medical practice and moved to the Soldiers Home in nearby Marshalltown, Iowa, later that year. He died there on October 18, 1910, at the age of 79.