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Isaac T. Goodnow

Educator, abolitionist. Born January 17, 1814 Whitingham, Vermont. Married to Ellen D. Denison in 1838. Died March 20, 1894 Manhattan, Kansas.

Issac T. GoodnowIsaac T. Goodnow was a native of Vermont. As a young child he looked forward to college, but had his hopes crushed at age 14 when his father died, and he was forced to work to support the family. He worked as clerk for four years, all the while studying at night. In 1832 he joined the Methodist church and enrolled at the Wilbraham Academy near Springfield, Massachusetts. He completed his studies there and became a professor in the primary and English departments. He later became professor of natural sciences. From 1848 to 1852 he taught natural sciences at Providence Seminary in Rhode Island. Goodnow came to Kansas in 1855 with the New England Emigrant Aid Company. They had the idea of building a community, which would eventually become Manhattan.

Goodnow became heavily involved in the free state disputes that argued whether Kansas ought to become a free or slave state. Eventually Goodnow returned back east and began raising funds for a Methodist institution. He became a co-founder and the first president of Bluemont College.

Perhaps Goodnow's greatest contribution to the educational climate of Manhattan was his work in locating the Kansas Agricultural College there. The building and grounds of Bluemont College were donated to the state to serve as the foundation for the new institution, which has developed into the present-day Kansas State University. Some 82,000 acres of land were given by the federal government to support the agricultural college. Goodnow converted more than half of this acreage into much needed cash during his tenure as land agent for the college from 1867 to 1873. Goodnow spent most of his life in service to the state of Kansas, until his passing in 1894.

The house that he and his wife, Ellen, occupied is now Goodnow House State Historic Site, administered by the Kansas Historical Society. Isaac T. Goodnow's personal papers are available for research in the archives at the Kansas Historical Society.

Entry: Isaac T. Goodnow

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: May 2011

Date Modified: August 2014

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.