I had never even heard of Goodspeed’s Histories until Roger Kammerer of Pitt County Family Researchers told me about them. He said they were like the Pitt County Chronicles books for the 1800s.
The publications can be a great resource for finding little biographies on ancestors who were living in the late 1800s, when the books were originally compiled. Although most biographies seem to focus on contemporary generations (the subject of the biography, his parents, spouse(s) and children), some go so far as to list several family generations, including maiden names.
Although I’ve yet to find a resource to list all available Goodspeed’s Histories, so far it appears the key states for which biographies were made were Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Tennessee.
Here are a few Craven County folks that I found in the History of Posey County, Indiana:
TURNER NELSON, deceased, was born in North Carolina, August 8, 1799, and came to Posey County in 1828 or 1829, and followed the occupation of farming and school teaching. In 1835 he was elected clerk of the Posey County courts, and held the office until 1867, when he was appointed to the Ute Indian agency under President Buchanan, but refused the appointment. He married Jane Walker, a native of Kentucky, and they became the parents of ten children, four of whom are living: Angeline, Evaline, James M. and William, who was born May 22, 1837, and married Josephine E. Whitworth, who bore him four children. He was appointed clerk of the county courts in 1867, to fill the vacancy caused by his father’s death, and served until 1875. Turner Nelson, our subject, was known by all as an enterprising and active citizen, a faithful and efficient official, and a worthy member of the Baptist Church. His death occurred August 7, 1867. (p. 512)
FREDERICK B. WILLIAMS is the fifth of a family of six children born to Joseph and Sarah (Carney) Williams, who were born and raised in Craven County, N. C. They came to Posey County, Ind., during its early settlement, with a family of three children. They rented farms for a few years, and then purchased a farm. The father is eighty-eight years old, and lives with Frederick. The mother died in 1882. Our subject received such education as could be obtained in those early times. He remained at home to the age of twenty years, when he married Argent Cross, February 14, 1853, and began farming for himself near his old home. He has been quite fortunate, and owns 172 acres of very fine land. His wife died December 2, 1877, leaving four living children (five dead): Sarah, William, Charles and Virgil. November 21, 1879, Elizabeth Young became his wife. They have one daughter, Ida F. Mrs. Williams is a member of the General Baptist Church, and he is a Democrat, and a very prominent man of the county. (p. 676)
DANIEL W. DIXON was born March 4, 1826, in Craven County, N. C. His parents were Daniel and Arcada (Abrahams) Dixon ; the father was a native and farmer of North Carolina, his birth occurring in 1790. In 1828 he came with his family to Posey County, Ind., but a short time thereafter moved to Franklin County, Ind., where he died in 1850. The mother was born about 1795, and died in 1848. Our subject remained with his parents until about eighteen years old when he began working for himself. August 7, 1850, he wedded Martha Calvin, daughter of J. and D. Calvin. Mrs. Calvin is a native of the county in which she now resides, her birth occurring April 1, 1833; and she has borne her husband eleven children, these eight now living: Lizzie, John D., Robert T., George B., James W., Edgar T., Martha E. and Virgil A. In 1847 our subject came to Posey County and purchased a small farm. By untiring energy he has increased his farm acre by acre, until he now owns a fine tract of land comprising 800 acres. He is a leading citizen, an enterprising farmer and Democrat, and he and wife are members of the Christian Church. (p. 691)