(1947) Father Wouldn’t Let 12-Year-old John Goodhue Buy Pine Island in Winnipesaukee for $75

But Glendale Boat and Real Estate Man Has Sold Thousands of Dollars of Property in Region, Some of it Twice

This article was originally written in 1947 By Raymond Smith.

     Captain John Goodhue of Glendale, 80-year-old lake pilot and real estate dealer whose life span covers the entire period of the development of Lake Winnipesaukee as a summer resort has played a major part in its transition from a lumbering and farming section to its present position and states that he has sold more lake property than any other man. The captain does not make this claim in a boasting mood but merely as a statement of fact which probably no one will question.

            When Captain Goodhue was growing up on a Moultonboro farm, impatiently awaiting the day he would be big enough to go to work on the “horse boats” which then plied the lake, there was not a hotel or summer cottage on its shores or islands. This does not mean Lake Winnipesaukee was not a busy spot in those days however. Millions of feet of logs and lumber were transported over the lake each season and well-kept farms lined the shores and many of the islands. The captain can remember when there were 30 families living year round on Bear Island alone. Saw mills and shipyards were a vital industry in every little community.

Dad Came in Panic of ‘60’s

            The veteran pilot came to Moultonboro from Lowell, at the age of one year. His father was a superintendent of a Dracut woolen mill and when one of the periodic depressions (called panics in those days) closed the mill, he informed his wife he was “going to New Hampshire and buy a farm.” He found his farm in Moultonboro and brought his family there.

            Captain Goodhue started his career as a boatman at the age of twelve, when he was hired by Frank Smith of Center Harbor at a wage of 25 cents per day “and found” to work on his horse boat hauling cordwood from Pine Island to the mainland. “There were three of us on the boat,” recalls Captain Goodhue, “the old captain, myself and the horse.”

            Captain Goodhue, who later was to become such a successful real estate dealer, was thwarted in his first attempt at a business deal by his father. Captain Smith proposed to his young helper that he buy Pine Island for $75. The elder Goodhue turned thumbs down on the idea.

            “I won’t have to pay out any money” the boy urged. “Captain Smith will let me work it out.”

            “That does not make any difference, you would never realize any profit from the island” was the father’s ultimatum.

            Within a few years the Goodhues saw thousands of dollars received for sale of lots on it.

            The father of Captain Goodhue was a cousin of the father of Mrs. Grace Goodhue Coolidge, wife of President Calvin Coolidge. The captain recalls that the father of Mrs. Coolidge used to come to the Moultonboro home to visit his relatives.

Piloted Grover Cleveland

            Captain Goodhue enjoyed an association with another occupant of the White House, President Grover Cleveland, during the years the chief executive spent his summers in Tamworth. The Glendale man was then captain of the yacht “Gilnochie” owned by George Armstrong, who lived at what is now the Dane estate at Center Harbor.

            President and Mrs. Cleveland were frequent guests of Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong, driving down from Tamworth to spend the day on the Gilnochie, cruising about the lake. Captain Goodhue remembers how the president would get into a small rowboat, towed by the yacht, and contentedly fish all day, forgetting the cares of the state. “He was a good fisherman,” says Captain Goodhue, “and hardly ever failed to return at night with a ‘good catch’.” Bass fishing was the favorite sport of Mr. Cleveland.

            Captain Goodhue has pleasant memories of Mrs. Cleveland whom he described as “the most gracious and most beautiful woman” he ever met. It was a proud moment for him when the then young first lady of the land told her hostess that she wished she and Mr. Cleveland could have a boat in Washington as nice and as well-handled as the Gilnochie.

To Rallies by Boat

            Political campaigns were hard fought and colorful spectacles in those days on Lake Winnipesaukee and all the boats on the lake would be crowded to the rails a the faithful attended ralies night after night at the different ports. The band concert and torchlight procession came first and then the oratory with the party leaders expounding on the tariff and other burning issues of the times. The next night the entire procedure would be repeated at some other lake port community.

            Commenting on the large number of passenger boats that sailed the lake in those days, Captain Goodhue points out that they were the principal means of transportation between towns in those days before the automobile and improved roads.

            Boat building flourished in many a lake shore community, when Captain Goodhue was a young man. The Wentworths of Wolfeboro were a noted family of boat builders as were the Lampreys of Bear Island. The latter family built the steamer Lamprey, a side-wheeler, after with the Mount Washington was patterned.

From $4,000 to $50,000

            One of Captain Goodhue’s first big real estate deals was the sale of Fort Point in Alton (so named because of the old Indian fortifications there) to George Darby, designer and manufacturer of the roll top desk. He sold 400 acres of land with four miles of shoreland for $4,000, considered a fabulous price in those days. The property has since sold for more than $50,000, according to the captain. He sold the Fort Point land for Ellsworth H. Rollins and Jacob Chamberlain.

            When the Lake Shore railroad was built, the company bought three miles of right of way from Glendale to the present Greystone inn for $300, records in Captain Goodhue’s possession show.

            Captain Goodhue bought the steam yacht Swallow in 1893, in Boston, sailed it to Portsmouth, loaded it on a flat car designed for carrying boats and then shipped it to Alton Bay, the railroad terminal in those days, where it was unloaded and launched. The railroad fee for the special trip to Alton from Portsmouth was an even $100.

Overseer at Kona Farm

            After operating the boat for several years, Captain Goodhue sold it to Herbert Dumeresq of Moultonboro, who was then developing his huge estate, Kona farm. The captain continued to pilot it for several years while he was employed by Mr. Dumeresq and later re-purchased it from the estate. The Swallow is now owned and operated by Nat Goodhue of Wolfeboro, son of Captain Goodhue.

            Captain Goodhue purchased 1,500 acres of land with 15 miles of shore front for Mr. Dumeresq with a half dozen islands thrown in for good measure. He then remained with the owner as overseer for four years while he was developing the Kona estate, for many years the showplace of the lakes region. The sum of $70,000 was spent for labor alone in those four years, in the days when a laborer worked for $1 a day and carpenters and masons were paid $1.50 to $2.

Some Sold Twice

            Other real estate deals the Glendale resident has completed include the sales of Rattlesnake and Stone Dam islands, Camp Passaconaway, the Sam Dunsford estate in Tuftonboro, the Chanticleer inn to Harrington Hunt and more recently Brick Yard mountain at The Weirs. Captain Goodhue can remember when the Dow family were operating the brick yard there. Some of these properties he has sold twice during his long business career.

            During the days when millions of feet of lumber were being cut every year around the lake, Captain Goodhue established the record of towing 5 hundred thousand board feet of lumber down the lake. Two boats the Governor Endicott and the Dolphin were used for this trip and the log rafts extended three quarters of a mile. Only old time lake skipper to come near equaling this feat. Was Captain Herbert A. Blackstone with the boats Minerva and Maid of the Isles.

            At the age of 80 Captain Goodhue shows no sign of curtailing his activities. His present greatest interest is in the development of Long Island in co-operation with a group of business associates. He has hopes of restoring that island to its eminence of former years when the summer visitors thronged its two large hotels and numerous summer boarding houses, and the “castles” of Dr. Alonzo A. Greene of Nervura fame and his brother, Frank, were showplaces of the lakes region.

Captain John Goodhue, Sr.
Born 1868 – Died 1948

Two Oldest Sons:
Captain John (Jack) Goodhue, Jr.
Born 1904 – Died  1974
Captain Nathaniel (Nat) Goodhue
Born 1909 – Died 1974

Captain John Goodhue, III
Born 1943-


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1 thought on “(1947) Father Wouldn’t Let 12-Year-old John Goodhue Buy Pine Island in Winnipesaukee for $75”

  1. John: I took a chance while browsing and lo & behold there you were live & in living color. Just wanted to comment on what a wonderful job you have done on this website covering the Goodhue generations. You always told me back in the late 50’s and 60’s that you were “a living legend”. I remember your mom & dad well at the red house in Glendale, playing Bo Diddley sounds on your 45 rpm record player(we had to be in 3rd-4th year of high school) and occasionally getting in minor trouble.

    I dropped in on you at your Mark island home at least 12 years ago. Thanks again to you and your wife for the great old time Gilford hospitality! I will be visiting with some other friends living in Melvin Village in a few weeks and will touch base with you in advance to see if you will be around. Still with Cathie in Plaistow having just celebrated our 47th anniversary. Looking forward to talking with you soon!


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