Early Blacksburg

By P.E. Goodrich

The letter below was written to A.T. Keister, whose mysterious death is now being investigated, by Mr. P.E. Goodrich of Winchester, Ind. It was sent to the News Messenger office by Mr. Keister two days before his death, as containing information on early Blacksburg history.

Beg to acknowledge receipt of the copies of the Montgomery News Messenger of March 9 and March 23, 1932, containing an early history of the city of Blacksburg. Thank you very much for these papers. They contain some information we did not have, mainly that John Bawldin Goodrich was one of the men who laid off the town of Blacksburg. We already had the information that he helped lay out the town of Christiansburg.

I note in the paper you sent me that the name was spelled "Goodrick". Don't know whether this was misspelled in printing the paper or from the copy of the records but he wrote a splendid hand and his name was "Goodrich".

I am giving you copy of his deed to the town of Blacksburg for the town spring. I visited this spring when in your city just about a year ago now. Located it easily from the description an old aunt of mine had given me years ago.

My father, John Bawldin Goodrich III, was born in a house that formerly stood across the street form the bank where the filling station now is. Part of the stones of the foundation were there. Mr. Black pointed them out to me. My great grandfather, John Bawldin Goodrich II, who donated the spring, lived in the long frame house across the street from the filling station. Don't think there is any doubt about this being a fact as Mr. W.L. Lancaster, former mayor of Blacksburg, told me that when he was a little boy this was known as the Goodrich house.

We thought that our great grandfather was connected with the first college established in Blacksburg but inclined to believe that since he lived in Christiansburg first that he may have been connected with the Girls' Seminary there. If there is any way to establish the fact, I would be glad to do it. He died in Blacksburg in 1828.

This was his deed to the spring. I am copying a little of the information we had showing the land he owned and the lots 6,7 and 8 on which is located the house in which he was supposed to live, but think this part of the description is wrong. Think he lived across the street from lots 6,7 and 8. If I remember correctly, lots 6,7 and 8 are where the filling station now is, and that is where my father was born.

He bought of George Surface on May 1, 1828, a tract of land in the town of Blacksburg 21 by 99 poles and on September 1, 1828, he purchased of William Thomas, et al, as Trustees of the town of Blacksburg, Lots Nos. 6, 7 and 8 upon which was located the house in which he lived while in Blacksburg.

In this deed was the following interesting reservation: "The Spring on the lot commonly called the "Town Spring" with enclosure of 16 feet square with passage way 6 feet wide from Water Street to the Spring, is dedicated for the use and benefit of the citizens of the said town of Blacksburg. It is understood, however, that the said Goodrich paid for said Spring and this right of user is a donation from him and is made on the express condition that no person using the Spring shall not be allowed to wash themselves or any article of clothing within the boundary of the said lot, but allowed merely to take water from the Spring shall be allowed to wash themselves or any article or clothing within the boundary of the said lot, but allowed merely to take water from the spring in clean vessels, and the Trustees of the town promise on their part to use all proper means of protecting the spring".

This deed is recorded in Record "X", page 194.

I have a legal description some place of this lot in which the town spring is located but I have misplaced it.

I don't know whether you have a paper in Blacksburg or not but thought this might be an interesting news item for the paper. I have tried to interest the mayor in curbing this town spring and fixing it in good shape to be preserved as a historical spot in your town. Think if it was not very expensive I could get the money from the Indiana Goodriches to fix it up. At any rate, Mr. Lancaster thought perhaps the city council would do it.

Very truly yours,

P.E. Goodrich,
Winchester, Ind.

(VPI Library, Clipping File. Article in Montgomery News Messenger, April 20, 1932.)

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Last updated December 15, 1997