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Part 3: A Park for the People

When Lincoln Goodale died on April 30, 1868, at the age of 85¹ of pneumonia, he was one of the oldest citizens of Columbus and Ohio. As a member of the first band of pioneers that began Ohio’s first settlements at Marietta and Belpre, “one of his earliest recollections was of being stationed, when a boy of seven or eight years old upon a stump in the midst of a large field at Belpre, to watch for the Indians and give the alarm so that the men who were at work with their ploughs and hoes, might seize their muskets in time to defend themselves; and an allusion to this period of his life, so full of hardship and suffering, and associated with the terror and grief of the family at his father’s disappearance, and the long suspense that broke their hearts before any tidings of his reached them, affected him deeply, even to tears.”²

Having lived through many of Ohio’s earliest times, he was “well acquainted with the history of Ohio, and knew personally all of its leading men for nearly three generations. He was active in a number of historical societies, taking great interest in their proceedings and in the “history and fortunes of the families” of the societies’ members. Toward the end of his life, he played a role in another historic event: when President Abraham Lincoln’s body toured the country for public viewing after his assassination and came to Ohio’s capital on April 29, 1865, Lincoln Goodale was listed in the program as one of the pallbearers.

He was described as a kind, genial and hospitable man who was “warmly attached” to his friends and family; a man who was “moderate and frugal in his own expenditures” while lavishing “his wealth without stint” upon numerous charities, with his generosity increasing with his wealth and age. A few days before he died, knowing the end was probably near, he asked a friend to arrange an unostentatious, quiet funeral and gathered his friends and family closeby. He then put his worldly affairs in order with “composure and resignation” and then lay down to die. He is said to have remembered the poor in his last benedictions.

On Saturday, May 2, 1868, the day of his funeral, the Columbus City Council held a special meeting at 9 a.m. to take “proper action in the death of Dr. Lincoln Goodale.” They passed a public resolution recognizing his many gifts to the city and charities to the poor; requiring the council chamber to be dressed in mourning for a period of 30 days and the Mayor, officers; and requiring members to the council to attend the funeral at 10 a.m. The city council and officers then proceeded to the family home where they joined friends, family, and the Franklin County Pioneers Association at 9:30 a.m. for a viewing, followed by the procession leading the hearse to the First Presbyterian Church for the funeral at 10 a.m. After the funeral, the same procession, followed by twelve carriages of family members, proceeded to Green Lawn Cemetery for interment.

In his obituary, the Ohio State Journal reported that “Rarely has any announcement been received in this city with such general expression of regret and sorrow. The news of the decease of the old man who had stood in the foremost rank of our citizens for half a century, who was so well known by boy, father, and grandfather, seemed but a few minutes in reaching every part of the city. Market men caught the word and carried it to the country, and the tale was told at breakfast at nearly every home in the city. Children, young men and old all claimed him as an associate; all knew him well.”

Goodale Park

One of Lincoln Goodale’s greatest gifts to Columbus lives on today through Goodale Park. It is generally considered to be Columbus’ first city park even though the land for Livingston Park was owned by Columbus earlier. In 1839, the city of Columbus purchased land along Livingston Avenue for use as the East Graveyard – it later became Livingston Park when the city moved its residents to Green Lawn Cemetery. The Goodale Park land was always intended for use as a city park. Goodale offered the acreage to the Columbus City Council on Bastille Day, the French liberation day, July 14, 1851. The deed transferring the land, and the conditions of the transfer, was signed and filed in November 1851.

When one considers what was happening in Columbus at the time and the location of the land that Goodale donated in 1851, with very specific requirements outlined in the deed regarding how the land should be used, his gift seems even greater in terms of value of the land and who would most likely be using it. First, the “40 acres, more or less” is located in an area that was about to explode with commercial and industrial development at the time Lincoln Goodale made his gift to the city. In 1851, the land that is now Goodale Park was very near the location that would soon become Columbus’ first train depot and rail line. Union Depot #1, located at 400 N. High Street, received the first train into Columbus on February 25, 1850, and closed on February 13, 1875. It was built to accommodate three tracks. Union Depot #2 opened in 1875 on the same site and was able to accommodate seven sets of tracks. Union Depot #1 was built for Columbus’ first passenger trains operated by the Columbus and Xenia Railroad. Lincoln Goodale was one the original board of directors for this business and remained on the board until a few months before his death. He was also one of its largest shareholders.

The rail depot also marked the end of the old North Graveyard, another significant event for Columbus development. Lincoln Goodale owned a tract of land inside the North Graveyard, and there was some dispute regarding the boundaries of this tract that lay in the northwest quadrant near the land that would become Goodale Park. As early as 1848, the city fathers who operated and maintained the North Graveyard knew this area would be developing soon: “The city is rapidly increasing, and in a few years it will grow entirely around the present site [North Graveyard]”³ (June 22, 1848).

The tract of land across High Street from the North Graveyard was chosen for Union Depot #1 in 1848. In 1868 the Union Depot Company was formed to make Union Depot #2 the “target of all new rail lines entering the city, which were beginning to proliferate in the late 1860s.”4 Soon after, the rail companies filed a lawsuit with the city to gain access to the new depot. These developments, along with health concerns, finalized the decision to move the remaining North Graveyard residents to Green Lawn Cemetery. Green Lawn Cemetery came into existence in 1848. Another interesting note: The oldest marker in Green Lawn Cemetery belongs to Lincoln Goodale’s mother, Elizabeth, who had died in 1809 and had been moved to Green Lawn Cemetery from the Franklinton Graveyard.

The rail lines were, of course, installed to promote commercial and industrial development, which they did: from the 1870s to the 1890s central Columbus experienced an industrial boom, becoming home to a number of manufacturing industries including manufacturers of farm implements and buggies. The Columbus Buggy Company operating from 1872 to 1914 would become the largest lightweight buggy manufacturer in the world.

With the manufacturing businesses came the workers. In her book, Flytown and the Italian Community from 1858 through 1930, Francesca Colonna Helton describes the beginnings of Flytown. An etching of Goodale Park is on the title page. “The area located from Collins Avenue to Spruce, and from Dennison Avenue to Olentangy River was known as the Goodale Area, and through the years became known as Port of Entry, because this was the place to which foreign people went first.

“And as more and more people arrived in this area, more and more houses were needed, so many houses were built and they seemed to “fly up over night.” For this reason the Goodale Area became known as ‘Fly Town.’ It was also called a ‘Melting Pot’ because people from seventeen different countries lived there. Factories were built and firms started to employ the immigrant workers.”

By the time he donated the land to the city for Goodale Park in 1851, it seems very likely that Lincoln Goodale knew this would be a rapidly growing industrial area and he wanted to preserve an area of land as a place of beauty for the working people who would live and work in that area. The tract he donated was described as being a particularly beautiful natural setting with primitive trees and rolling hills with scores of wild flowers and a variety of birds. He could easily have sold this land for development since, at that time, it was probably in high demand or soon would be and therefore very valuable. At the time Lincoln Goodale sold the land to the city for $1 it was valued at about $40,000. Since then it has appreciated to be appraised at several million dollars by the time of the Goodale Park Centennial in 1951.

In addition to providing the land, Dr. Goodale seems to have used the deed as a way to protect it for the purposes he intended long after he was gone from this earth. The deed stipulates the following requirements: (1) lay out 60-foot wide streets, one on the east side of the tract to be called East Park Street and another on the south side to be called Bond Street; (2) the tract of land will be called Goodale Park and “shall be forever kept and preserved as a public park, or pleasure ground, for the free and common use” of the inhabitants of the city of Columbus and will be owned and controlled by the city as long as terms of the deed are met; (3) oversight and improvement of the grounds will be entrusted to a specific committee of the Columbus City Council, consisting of four people, including Lincoln Goodale while he’s alive and, after his lifetime, three members; (4) the city will, as far as practical, protect the birds on the grounds and prevent all shooting or game hunting on the site; (5) the city will build a good fence around the grounds within one year of the grounds conveyance date; and (6) Lincoln Goodale shall have the right to designate entrances to the grounds from different streets; and the city shall not permit any living trees on the grounds to be cut down and destroyed except by the direction of the oversight committee for the improvement of the grounds. Finally, Goodale further guaranteed that it would remain a park by further stipulating in the deed that if the land is ever used for any purpose other than as a public park, ownership of the land will revert to the heirs of his estate.

Throughout Goodale Park’s colorful and unexpected history, the tract of “40 acres more or less” has had many ups and downs. Its history swings from one extreme to the other. In 1861, within ten years of his donation of the land, Goodale Park was converted into Camp Jackson, a Union Army Civil War encampment and holding pen for thousands of men training to go off to war. The soldiers cut down many if not most of the primitive trees and dug deep wagon ruts across the grounds. Later, the city of Columbus swung to the opposite extreme, making extravagant plans for the park and building a large lake for boating and skating in 1892. For a while in the 1870s, it was home to an animal menagerie with bears, wolves, fox and rabbits and ambitious plans to expand the number of animals on display.

Through the years, the sounds of Billy Sunday’s Revival and Temperance Meetings, croquet parties, strawberry festivals, and July 4th celebrations have echoed through Goodale Park. It’s had its hard times: the city has dealt with crime in Goodale Park, management issues, and controversies over use of the park land. A few times compliance with the deed has been called into question with expressed concerns of losing the park altogether, but through it all Goodale Park has survived and lived on to become the park that so many still enjoy today.

Now, Goodale Park is a fairly quiet place where you can walk across the green, well-tended grass among the mature trees or sit in the gazebo next to the fountain and reflect on your day. An occasional jogger or dog walker passes by but for the most part, Goodale Park is an oasis of green and quiet, nestled in the heart of Columbus’ Short North district. It currently has its own group of dedicated volunteers, the Friends of Goodale Park, who help with care of the park and the planning new projects.

A statue of Dr. Lincoln Goodale at the south end of the park faces downtown Columbus. The towering statue seems to greet visitors entering through the old iron gate and preside over the park like a guardian. Goodale Park is Lincoln Goodale’s living legacy to the people of Columbus and if he could see it today, over 155 years after he donated this land to the city, he most likely would be pleased– it now seems to be what he intended.


Footnotes:
1. Most sources claim that Lincoln Goodale died at the age of 86, but he if he was born on July 25, 1782, as he states in a short autobiographical letter on April 3, 1866, written for the 78th Anniversary of the First Settlement of Ohio at Marietta on April 7, 1866, and died on April 30, 1868, he was 85 years old. The source of the discrepancy may be the Ohio State Journal obituary which stated his birthday was February 25,1782.

2. Ohio State Journal, May 9, 1868, p. 6.

3. The Columbus City Graveyards, Donald M. Schlegel, 1985, p.17.

4. The Columbus City Graveyards, Donald M. Schlegel, 1985, p.23.

Special thanks to the Columbus Metropolitan Library, Division of Biography, History and Travel.

This feature first appeared in the Short North Gazette, February 2007 Issue and is also available on the Short North Gazette web site at http://www.shortnorth.com/LincolnGoodalePartThree.html

© 2007 All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the author.