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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published by Biographical Review Publishing Company in 1896.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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LAFAYETTE WASHINGTON GOODELL, of Belchertown, Mass., a widely known horticulturist residing at Pansy Park, near Dwight, was born in this town, October 31, 1851. His immediate ancestors were also natives of Belchertown, the birth of his father, Asahel Goodell, having occurred here on November 22, 1810. His remote ancestors on the paternal side are said to have belonged to a tribe of Celts living in the north of France, the tribal name being Goidel or Godele.

About 1560 a family of Godeles, who were Huguenots, emigrated to England, where the name became Anglicized to Goodell. From this family sprung Robert Goodell (born in 1604, died in 1692), who emigrated to America in 1634, settling in Salem, Mass. One of his great-grandsons, John, born in 1703, went to Pomfret, Conn., where he raised a family of nine children. Nathaniel, son of John and great-grandfather of Lafayette W., settled in Woodstock, Conn., but in 1777 purchased from his brother Lemuel a tract of one hundred acres of wild land situated in the northern part of Belchertown, now known as Dwight, to which he moved with his family in August of that year. He cleared and improved a farm, upon which he resided until his death in 1814. He raised a family of six children: Serrill, Esther, Nathaniel, Lucy, Alpheus, and Moses.

Mr. Goodell’s grandfather, Moses Goodell, succeeded to the possession of the homestead, which was his residence until his decease, in 1854, at the age of seventy-seven years. His wife, whom he married on September 5, 1799, was Susannah Pettingill, of Methuen, Mass., and ten of her twelve children grew to maturity; namely, Ira Chaffee, Noble Thomas Ware, Marcus Lyon, Elizabeth Pettingill, Asahel, Esther Bliss, Dudley Nathaniel, Lovicy, Lusanna, and Newton Franklin Washington.

Asahel Goodell was educated in the common schools, and succeeded to the possession of the farm at the decease of his father. In early manhood he engaged in introducing a process for renovating clothing, of which he made a successful business for nearly thirty years, travelling throughout the Eastern States, becoming well known as the “New England clothes dresser.” In 1833 he purchased a tract of land near the homestead, upon which he erected a dwelling-house. October 1, 1834, he was married to Cynthia Tilson Newell, daughter of Benjamin and Charlotte (Williams) Newell, of Pelham, Mass., her mother being a descendant of the famous Roger Williams. Five of their eight children lived to reach maturity, namely: Ellen Hemans, who is the subject of a special sketch in this volume; Jerome Homer; Celeste Martineau; Wesley Melancthon; and Lafayette Washington. Asahel Goodell was one of the three original antislavery men in his native town, and was prominently identified with political and other public affairs. He served as a Justice of the Peace and also acted as correspondent for various newspapers.

Lafayette W. Goodell received a good common-school education, and several years before attaining his majority was entrusted with the management of the farm, which for twenty years prior to that time had been leased to tenants and was badly run down. In 1876 he rented some land on the place, and on a capital of twenty-five dollars engaged in the retail seed business, of which he has made a marked success. From less than two hundred customers the first year, the number has increased to over sixty thousand. He erected new buildings and made many other improvements, transforming what was one of the most unsightly places in town into one of the most attractive. In 1885 he purchased two adjoining estates, on which he built in 1891 two large greenhouses, and added a plant department to the business. The seeds and plants, which are sold through the agency of annual catalogues, are distributed by mail and express to all parts of the country; in fact, his books contain the names of customers in almost every country on the globe.

In 1891 he purchased the old farm and the homestead, and now owns some three hundred acres, much of which is woodland. The improved portion, known as Pansy Park, is delightfully situated and beautifully laid out. During the summer season the grounds are covered with thousands of varieties of flowers and plants, making a gorgeous display. Many of these are grown for their seeds, among others large quantities of pansies, which thrive luxuriantly and afford an appropriate name for the estate. A notable and attractive feature is the aquatic garden, covering several acres and containing one of the largest collections of water-growing plants in the United States, including several varieties of the sacred Egyptian lotus and about forty varieties of water lilies of various colors from all parts of the world. In the summer of 1890 Mr. Goodell succeeded in flowering in the open air, without artificial heat, the famous Victoria regia from the river Amazon, the largest water lily known, the leaves of which measure from four to six feet in diameter — the first time this was ever accomplished in the northern States. He has made a special study of this branch of floriculture; and the benefit of his knowledge will soon be given to the public in an illustrated book, now in preparation, entitled “Aquatic Plants and their Culture,” which is destined to be a standard work upon the subject.

Mr. Goodell has been for twenty years a frequent contributor to horticultural papers, and is a recognized authority on matters relating to this branch of industry, in which by his energy and perseverance he has gained an enviable reputation. The result of his studies and discoveries in entomology, of which he is an enthusiastic student, have been published in magazines, proceedings of scientific societies, and United States government publications, Mr. Goodell is an exceedingly courteous gentleman to meet. He is a Republican in politics.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published in 1896. 

View additional Hampshire County, Massachusetts family biographies here: Hampshire County, Massachusetts Biographies

View a map of 1901 Hampshire County, Massachusetts here: Hampshire County Massachusetts Map

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