The biographies of successful men are instructive as guides and incentives to those whose careers are in the process of being formed. The examples they furnish of patient purpose and consecutive endeavor strongly illustrate what is in the power of each to accomplish. The gentleman whose life story here is briefly set forth, is a conspicuous example of one who has lived to good purpose and who has achieved a marked degree of success in the special sphere to which his talents and energies have been devoted James Goodwill is a well-known farmer of Audubon county, Iowa.|
James Goodwill was born on September 19, 1862, in Jasper county, Iowa, and is the son of E. E. and Sylvia (Brown) Goodwill, natives of Ohio and Indiana, respectively. E. E. Goodwill was a pioneer settler in Jasper county, having come to that county about 1847. He reared his family in Jasper and Cass counties and in 1869 they moved to Cass county. E. E. Goodwill enlisted in the Union army and was held in reserve. He came to Audubon county in 1878 and settled in Douglas township. He bought a prairie farm of eighty acres. He moved to a farm in Viola township, in 1897, and there died in 1900. E. E. Goodwill and wife had eleven children, as follow: Jasper, who lives in Council Bluffs; Wilbur, of Bismark, North Dakota; Mary, the widow of James Kelley, of Oakville, and who is now living in Bismark, North Dakota; Amanda, the wife of Macklin Smith, of Kansas; Benjamin, of near Guthrie, Oklahoma; Geneva was the wife of a Mr. Twilliger, now deceased, he having died as a result of burns received in a prairie fire in North Dakota; James lives in Audubon county; George, who lives near Spencer, in Clay county; Charles, of Omaha; one child died in infancy; and Elizabeth, deceased, who married a Mr. Ayers, and lived in North Dakota.
James Goodwill was educated in the Cass county common schools and when sixteen years old he began working out and continued until he was twenty-eight years. He was married in 1880, and began farming for himself on section 1, in Melville township. He was here one year and then moved to the George Campbell farm in Greeley township, where he remained four years. Subsequently, he lived on the William Robinson farm in Greeley township for one year and then moved to section 35, in Melville township, where he remained fifteen years. In March, 1911, Mr. Goodwill bought ten acres in Audubon. Mrs. Goodwill owns eighty acres in section 29, in Melville township.
James Goodwill was married on February 19, 1891, to Margaret Ann (Campbell) Messersmith, daughter of George and Ann (Campbell) Messersmith, early settlers in Audubon county, Iowa. No children have been born to this union.
George Campbell was a native of Ireland, born on March 5, 1837. He died on December 12, 1910. He came to Lincoln, Illinois, October 9, 1855, and to Iowa, March 3, 1886, settling in Melville township, Audubon county. He was married on May 19, 1859, to Anne Savage, a native of Ireland, born on May 12, 1840. She died on September 24, 1908. They had a large family of children, as follow: George Alexander, born on March 5, i860, lives in Melville township; Margaret Ann Goodwill, October 26, 1861; Mrs. Mary Eliza Shallow, November 15, 1863, and lives in Audubon; William James, November 5, 1865, lives in Melville township; Catherine, September 15, 1876, died August 8, 1877; John, October 20, 1869, lives in Melville township; Robert, October 5, 1871, died on September 12, 1889, at the age of eighteen; Mrs. Ella Egan, January 19, 1873, died on August 28, 1896, and left two children, Mrs. Anna Colville, of Morristown, South Dakota, and Bartholomew Egan, of Home, North Dakota; Thomas, February 4, 1875, lives in Melville township; Henry and Sarah, twins, December 17, 1876, the latter dying August 17, 1877; Henry is a merchant at Stuart, Iowa.
Mr. Campbell was one of the large landowners of Audubon county and owned nearly eight hundred acres. He gave each of his children eighty acres. For many years he was road supervisor and school director. He moved to Audubon seven years before his death. He and his wife were members of the Methodist Episcopal and Catholic church, respectively. After having lived in Illinois for a short time he invested his savings in one hundred and sixty acres of land in Melville township. Mary Ann Messersmith and two brothers came to Iowa in 1884. She kept house for her two brothers. George Campbell purchased land as he was able and prospered. Mrs. Campbell died very suddenly, and Mr. Campbell was ill only three days before his death.
James Goodwill has always been identified with the Democratic party, but has never been especially active. He has, however, served as a member of the school board of Melville township. He is not a member of any church nor of any lodge.
Transcribed from History of Audubon County, Iowa Its People, Industries and Institutions With Biographical Sketches of Representative Citizens and Genealogical Records of Many of the Old Families, by H. F. Andrews, editor, Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen & Company, 1915, pp. 790-792.