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Isaac Tichenor Goodnow papers

Creator: Goodnow, Isaac T. (Isaac Tichenor), 1814-1894

Date: 1822-[ca. 1940]

Level of Description: Coll./Record Group

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: Ms. Coll. 357

Unit ID: 40357

Restrictions: None.

Biographical sketch: Kansas free-state (antislavery) pioneer, political figure, educational proponent. Of Whittington, Vt.; Providence, R.I.; Manhattan, Kan.

Abstract: The collection consists of incoming and family correspondence, 1822-1940; originals, typescripts, & other copies of Isaac T. Goodnow's diaries, ca. 1830-1894; personal reminiscences; lectures & notes; tax records, receipts, bills of account, & other financial records; deeds & mortgages; invitations; and related materials. The collection documents Goodnow's personal life and his family, his various business & farming activities, and other aspects of his & his family's life. Some of his letters discuss matters at Boston, Kan., a predecessor of Manhattan; are written to Rev. Joseph Denison; and include Goodnow's reminiscences of Governor Nehemiah Green and Kansas' 1st & 2nd U.S. senatorial elections. There is also testimony Goodnow gave regarding a disputed claim.

Space Required/Quantity: 11 cubic ft. (17 boxes + 14 oversize folders)

Title (Main title): Isaac Tichenor Goodnow papers

Titles (Other):

  • Papers [Portion of title]
  • Isaac Tichenor Goodnow collection


Biog. Sketch (Full):

Isaac Tichenor Goodnow was born 17 January 1814 in Whitingham, Vermont. In 1828, after the death of his father, Isaac began working as a merchant. In 1834 he entered school at the Wesleyan Academy in Wilbraham, Massachusetts.

After graduating from the academy, Goodnow traveled throughout the East on various business ventures. He then returned to Weslayan in order to receive a professorship there. He then in 1838 married Ellen D. Denison. They later moved to Rhode Island, where Goodnow accepted a professorship of natural sciences at the Providence Seminary.

In 1855, Goodnow under the sponsorship of the New England Emigrant Aid Society, went West. With other emigrants, including Isaac's brother William, Goodnow settled along the Blue River in the new Kansas territory. Soon after his arrival he sent back East for his wife Ellen to join him.

From the beginning, Goodnow was involved in free state Kansas politics. He attended the Free-State Convention in Lawrence. In 1858 he went again to Lawrence as a delegate to the Kansas Constitutional Convention.

Goodnow was instrumental in developing both the city of Manhattan and the Bluemont Central College, which later became Kansas State University. He established the Manhattan Town Association in order to prevent claim jumpers from taking the site where the college was to be erected; he raised funds to build the college as well as for books and other necessities.

In 1861 after Kansas became a state, the citizens of Manhattan elected Goodnow to the State House of Representatives. He attempted to formally establish Bluemont Central College as the University of Kansas but lost. After President Lincoln signed the Morril Act in 1862, providing states with land grants to be used to support state agricultural colleges, Goodnow used this opportunity to establish Bluemont as the Kansas State Agricultural College.

He was elected State superintendent of public instruction in 1862 and 1864, serving 1863-1867.

Goodnow acted as land agent for the agricultural college and as land commissioner for Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railway (previously the Union Pacific Railway Southern Branch), in both positions selling excess land lots. As land commissioner he paid taxes of those who bought land from the railroad.

Isaac retired as land commissioner in 1876 and began farming in Manhattan again, with a special interest in his apple orchard. He studied the liberal arts and wrote various articles for newspapers, with a special interest in Baker University, Baldwin City, Kansas, and other colleges developing at the time. He traveled and was active in the temperance movement. He and Ellen had no children of their own but adopted Goodnow's niece, Harriet Parkerson.

Isaac Goodnow died on 20 March 1894.

Scope and Content


Locator Contents
006-13-08-06 to 006-14-02-03  Non-oversize textual records 
042-13-06-02 to 042-13-06-03  [ca. 1849]-1992; mostly archivist's processing records and research materials 
909-26-00-00  Oversize materials: deeds, contracts, diplomas, Manhattan Town Association & Bluemont College records, etc. 
912-30-00-00  Oversize materials: genealogical materials primarily relating to Isaac Goodnow's sister, Lucinda Parkerson, and her son-in-law, Alvin Reynolds. 

Related Records or Collections

Related materials:

Harriet Parkerson Diaries and Papers, manuscripts collection no. 466, http://www.kshs.org/archives/40466

Papers of Eli Thayer, [1854-1891] (bulk 1855-1869, 1880-1889), 1 microfilm reel (220 images); 35 mm., manuscript collection no. 519, microfilm roll MS 145, available for inter-library loan to Kansas libraries, http://www.kshs.org/archives/40519

Burt Whedon misc. collection, 1 folder, Misc.: Whedon

Index Terms


    Bluemont Central College
    Manhattan Town Association
    Boston (Riley County, Kan.)
    Kansas -- History -- 1854-1861
    Manhattan (Kan.)
    Goodnow, Ellen Denison
    Goodnow, Isaac T. (Isaac Tichenor), 1814-1894 -- Archives
    Parkerson, Harriet Arms, 1855-1940
    Educators -- Kansas
    Pioneers -- Kansas -- Manhattan
    Politicians -- Kansas
    American diaries -- Kansas
    American letters
    Antislavery movements -- Kansas

Creators and Contributors

Additional Information for Researchers

Restrictions: None.

Use and reproduction: Information on literary rights available from the Kansas Historical Society (Topeka).

Cite as: Isaac Tichenor Goodnow Papers, ms. collection 357, Kansas Historical Society.

Holder of originals: Kansas Historical Society (Topeka).