Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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Hiram Goodwin was born in New Hartford, Litchfield County, Connecticut, on the 5th day of May, 1808, and died on the 3d day of February, 1885, in the 78th year of his life. His father died in his son's early infancy, so that the son had no recollection of him. He was brought up by his mother, and during his early years was engaged in the usual occupations of a farmer's life. He early resolved to obtain an education more or less liberal, and by keeping district schools and slight aid from his mother, he was enabled to complete at Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass., a preparatory course for admission to college. Being somewhat advanced in life and with limited means he abandoned the intention of a collegiate education, and in 1826 entered the office of William G. Williams, a lawyer residing in New Hartford, of much learning in the law and especially skilled in special pleading, an acquisition in those days of no mean importance. He also studied for about a year in the law school in New Haven. He was admitted to the bar by the Superior Court at Litchfield in October, 1830, and immediately located himself at Hitchcocksville, now known as Riverton, in the town of Barkhamsted in Litchfield County, then a small manufacturing village. At that time and for many years thereafter, that part of the county was rife with litigation, in which he engaged with all the ardor and sanguine expectations of youth, and soon attained a lucrative practice, though surrounded by able and experienced lawyers in neighboring towns, which he retained until his fatal illness. Soon after his settlement he married Caroline Abernethy, daughter of Doctor Andrew Abernethy of New Hartford, and in a short time he had provided for himself and family a comfortable home from his own earnings, and was largely instrumental in the erection of a neat church edifice and the organization of a Congregational church and society, and a Sabbath school, of which he was superintendent for more than thirty years; and during his life he was a liberal contributor for the support of the church and by his will devised the greater part of his property for its maintenance.
He had two children by his marriage, a son who died at the age of seventeen, just as he was prepared for a college education, and a daughter about the age of twenty-five, who lost her life by an accidental fall from a precipice in 1881. The mother, after a protracted and painful illness, died in January, 1883. Mr. Goodwin soon after became the victim of nervous prostration, which finally culminated in his death.
He was a member of the General Assembly, in the House in 1836 and 1837, and in the Senate in 1860 and 1862; also a judge of Litchfield county court in the years 1851 to 1855, when the county courts were abolished.
As a lawyer he was sound, careful, and deliberate. He thoroughly prepared his cases for trial, both as to the facts and the law. In his arguments before the court and jury he was always self-possessed, calm and emphatic. He was a safe, sound counselor, an excellent, perspicuous draughtsman, and above all he was thoroughly honest and a devoted Christian; these last traits being manifested by his whole life and conversation.