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A. Goodell and Sons Company Records

Identifier: MS-BC6


Loda, (Iroquois County) Illinois, investment banking business founded in 1850s by Addison Goodell (1822-1903) and later managed by sons Warren (born 1861) and Nathan (born 1866). Primarily letterpress books documenting growth of the business, economic and political events affecting the firm’s real estate and banking activities, and occasionally personal activities of the Goodells.


  • Created: 1852-1920

Biographical / Historical

Addison Goodell, a Loda, Illinois, investment banker, was born near Mentor, Ohio, on July 16, 1822. Goodell married Jane H. Warren, daughter of Selleck and Mary Yates Warren, in 1850, and by 1855, the Goodells moved west establishing a lumber business at Loda, Illinois (Iroquois County). Goodell also engaged in real estate business acting as a middleman between Midwestern farmers and eastern capitalists. In 1856 Goodell added a banking to his growing firm, which he called A. Goodell and Company.

A. Goodell and Company engaged in mortgage banking, specializing in investments in farmland in central and eastern Illinois and western Indiana. Advertising in eastern newspapers stirred interest in such investments and would-be investors then received pamphlets and a list of assumable mortgage loans. If they decided to invest in farm mortgages, Goodell, often working through his lawyer/agents, matched the available capital to local loan requests. The firm included several associates, including Asabel D. Southworth, who worked with Goodell from 1857 to 1870, Selleck B. Warren, a partner from 1871 to 1878, and John S. Sheldon, who was associated with Goodell from 1878 to 1887.

A Republican and radical abolitionist, Goodell was elected to the Twenty-Third Illinois General Assembly (1863-1864) and Twenty-Seventh Illinois General Assembly (1871-1872). When the 1870 Illinois Constitutional Convention convened, he was chosen as a delegate from Iroquois County. He also served in local and township offices.

The Goodells had seven children, only four of whom survived infancy. Frances M. married Chicago attorney W. J. Strong, and Bertha G. did not marry. Warren S. (born in 1861) attended an academy in Albany, New York, but poor health prevented him from entering college. He toured Europe for a year and recovered sufficiently to take a business course at a commercial college. Warren worked as an assistant in his father’s business and when he became a partner in 1888, the name of the firm was changed to A. Goodell and Son.

Nathan P. Goodell (born 1866) studied at the Greylock Institute in Massachusetts. He was an 1888 graduate of the University of Illinois at Champaign and subsequently read law with firms in Chicago and Paxton, Illinois. He was admitted to the bar in September 1891 and returned to Loda where he served as attorney for the family business. His specialty became the examination of titles. With Nathan’s entry into the firm in 1898, the name was changed to A. Goodell and Sons Company.

As his sons took over more of the business, Addison Goodell found time to travel extensively. After an illness limited his ability to work he took an advisory role. When Goodell died on November 12, 1903, the firm of Goodell and Sons was handling nearly one million dollars in loans and three and one half million dollars of total accounts. Following their father’s death, the Goodell sons continued the investment banking business. They also sold insurance, invested in Loda’s electric light plant, rented out nearly two thousand acres of farm land, and participated in a number of civic activities.


34.38 Linear Feet : 187 bound volumes

Language of Materials


Scope and Content

The A. Goodell and Sons Company Records, 1852-1920, consist of 187 letterpress books and other volumes. Of these, 179 are chronologically-arranged letterpress books containing the firm’s outgoing correspondence and business records, 1872-1920. The eight remaining volumes concern a variety of related interests. A letterpress book contains real estate records of A. S. Austin (1852-1855) as well as a few letters of Goodell and his associate, John S. Sheldon. There is also an account book from Goodell and Southworth (1857-1870) and a volume containing Goodell and Warren loan records (1871-1878). The remaining materials include Nathan Goodell’s letterpress book (1896-1898); a ledger containing accounts handled by Goodell as executor of a Lake County, Ohio, estate; a Loda Township Treasurer’s account book (1857-1885); and a policy ledger for Pennsylvania Fire Insurance Company (Nathan Goodell, agent).

The collection is arranged chronologically. From 1855 to 1888, the firm did business as A. Goodell and Company. During this period, Goodell was associated with Warren, Southworth, and Sheldon. In 1888, Warren Goodell became a partner in the firm and the bulk collection dates from this period until Addison Goodell’s death in 1903. Another segment of records covers the years following Goodell’s death, when the firm was run by Nathan and Warren Goodell. The records end in 1920, although the insurance ledger mentioned above contains entries from as late as 1928.

The A. Goodell and Sons collection contains valuable information concerning economic and political events that affected the Goodell firm’s real estate and banking activities. Since a farmer’s ability to repay loans depended upon crop profits, the Goodell’s frequently reported to eastern capitalists on Illinois agricultural prices and markets. Information concerning the effect of the Panic of 1893 on the money market is also included in letters to eastern investors such as General Russell Hasting of Ludlow, Alice Corning of New York, and B. F. Morse of Cleveland, Ohio. Letters also describe weather and other conditions affecting crop production, family member’s opinions concerning monetary policies, and the loan practices of both individuals and companies.

Letters were occasionally of a personal nature. When Addison Goodell was traveling or in poor health, letters from his sons informed clients of their father’s activities and well-being. Social activities, such as organizing baseball and football games, and civic causes like school board meetings and plans to build a new church, are the subject of some of the later correspondence. During World War I, the Goodell’s letters transmitted news to clients about the young members of the family serving in France.
Archon Finding Aid Title
Merleen Dibert
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Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collection Repository

112 North Sixth Street
Springfield IL 62701 US
(217) 558-8923