Select Goodyear Miscellany

Here are some Goodyear stories and accounts over the years:

Goodere Origins

Early Gooderes have been traced to Cheshire in the northwest and Middlesex/Hertfordshire in the southeast.  The following was the explanation provided by the Rev. Frederick Cass: 

"The Gooderes came originally from Cumberland, close to the Scotch border, settled at Monken Hadley and remained connected with it for two or three centuries. They afterward became widely scattered throughout the country under the names Goodere, Goodier, Goodair, Goodyer, Goodyere, Goodyeere, Goodyeare and Goodyear." 

The Henry Gooderes of Polesworth Hall

In 1571 Henry Goodere was imprisoned in the Tower of London.  His association with Mary Queen of Scots during her internment in Coventry had brought him under suspicion of treason against Queen Elizabeth I. However, Henry successfully protested his innocence and he was released in 1572. He was subsequently knighted and in 1588 promoted to colonel in the Queen's Bodyguard. 

The second Henry Goodere was made "one of the Gentlemen of his Majesty's Privy Chamber" by James I and was knighted in 1603.  He was a close friend of the poet John Donne aqnd was supportive of other poets and playwrights.  However, his lifestyle proved to be extravagant and ultimately unsupportable.  He died at Polesworth in 1627 almost penniless.

Stephen Goodyear of New Haven

On the back of a descendant’s gravestones, there is the following inscription: 

“Stephen Goodyear, a merchant of London, came to New Haven in 1638, was chosen magistrate and Deputy Governor of the colony and thereafter till his death at London in 1658.  He was the ancestor of all in America who bear his name.” 

In fact he probably died at sea on the passage to England.  He owned a vessel, the Saint John, and was licensed to carry passengers between England and America. 

He was also part of the company called the Ship Fellowship of New Haven which built the phantom ship that left New Haven harbor in January 1646 for London and was never heard from again.  His first wife Mary was lost on that ship.  Stephen married Margaret, the widowed wife of the captain of the ship, two years later.

Charles Goodyear and His Rubber Invention

The "rubber fever" of the early 1830’s had ended as suddenly as it had begun.  At first everybody had wanted things made of the new waterproof gum from Brazil.  Factories sprang up to meet the demand.  Then abruptly the public had become fed up with the messy stuff which froze bone-hard in winter and turned glue-like in summer.  Not one of the young rubber companies survived as long as five years.  Investors lost millions.  Rubber, everyone agreed, was through in America. 

But Charles Goodyear did not agree.  He persisted in his experiments to make rubber viable.  However, after five futile years, he was near rock bottom.  Farmers around Woburn, Massachusetts where he lived gave his children milk and let them dig half-grown potatoes for food. 

The great discovery came in the winter of 1839.  Goodyear was using sulfur in his experiments now.  Although Goodyear himself has left the details in doubt, the most persistent story is that one February day he wandered into Woburn's general store to show off his latest gum-and-sulfur formula.  Snickers rose from the cracker-barrel forum and the usually mild-mannered little inventor got excited, waved his sticky fistful of gum in the air.  It flew from his fingers and landed on the sizzling-hot potbellied stove. 

When he bent to scrape it off, he found that instead of melting like molasses, it had charred like leather. And around the charred area was a dry, springy brown rim - "gum elastic" still, but so remarkably altered that it was virtually a new substance.  He had made weatherproof rubber. 

He did not profit greatly from his invention during his lifetime.  When he died in New York in 1860 he was $200,000 in debt.  Eventually, however, accumulated royalties made his family comfortable.  His son Charles - inheriting something more precious, inventive talent, - later built a small fortune on shoemaking machinery.

The Goodyears of Bogalusa, Louisiana

Two brothers from Buffalo, New York – Charles W. Goodyear and Frank H. Goodyear – erected a sawmill on the Bogue Lusa creek in Washington parish, Louisiana in 1906.  Two year later the Great Southern Lumber Company started operating and was to do so for the next thirty years.  It was for many years the largest sawmill in the world. 

The Bogalusa township sprung up as the Goodyears built houses for their workers.  Four generations of Goodyears lived in Bogalusa.  Their story was told in C.W. Goodyear's 1950 book Bogalusa Story. 

Return to Top of Page
Return to Goodyear Main Page