March is National Reading Month and the Lincoln County Historical Association is taking a look at one of the book lovers who lived at the Pownalborough Court House, one of the three historic sites under the association’s stewardship. From the journal and letters of Sarah “Sallie” Prescott Goodwin emerged a fan of Sir Walter Scott.
Sallie, as Sarah was known to family and friends, moved with her mother and sisters into the Pownalborough Court House in 1833, following the death of her father. The courthouse was home to Maj. Samuel Goodwin and his wife, Elizabeth, grandparents of Sallie and the parents of her mother, Rebecca.
In 1856, Sallie married her true love, Capt. Samuel Randolph Goodwin, her second cousin. “Capt. Sam,” as the family referred to him, was master of a ship that carried cargo to ports along the East Coast of the United States and to England and Ireland. It was Sallie Goodwin’s great pleasure to accompany her husband on a number of these voyages.
To pass the time on some of the many days at sea, Sallie Goodwin read. A crossing to Liverpool from New Orleans, a port Capt. Sam was often taking goods to and from, could take 39 days. It appears one of Sallie Goodwin’s favorite authors was Sir Walter Scott, whose books were very popular from 1805-1832. Sallie noted in her letters home that she had read “The Black Dwarf,” “The Legend of Montrose,” and “The Heart of Midlothian,” all by Scott. All three of these stories were part of a collection referred to as Tales of My Landlord.
In expanding her reading interests, Sallie Goodwin wrote home that she had read Bayard Taylor’s “Travels” (which editions she did not specify). Taylor was born in 1825 in Pennsylvania and was educated there. In 1844, he began his career as a travel writer. During his lifetime, he traveled most of the globe, including a good part of the United States. Taylor published more than 20 articles and books on his wanderings around the world.
Long voyages required plenty of reading material and Sallie Goodwin’s choice of the “Correspondence of Lady Blessington” (the actual title being “The Literary Life and Correspondence of the Countess of Blessington,” compiled by Richard R. Madden) was a good pick as it consisted of three volumes. Published in New York in 1855, it would have been fairly new to the reading market when Sallie Goodwin noted it in one of her letters early in February 1857.
National Reading Month is a good time to seek out some of the old classics. The staff at Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library, Bremen Public Library, Bristol Area Library, Skidompha Library, Bridge Academy Public Library, Jefferson Public Library, Rutherford Library (Bristol), Southport Memorial Library, Wiscasset Public Library, and Waldoboro Public Library, will be happy to help people find a good selection.
The Lincoln County Historical Association is a nonprofit organization that provides stewardship for the 1754 Chapman-Hall House of Damariscotta, the 1761 Pownalborough Court House in Dresden, and the 1811 Old Jail and Museum in Wiscasset. In the fall of 2014, the association began an education outreach program to promote the history of its three historic sites and Lincoln County’s heritage with students of all ages. For more information about this program and the Lincoln County Historical Association, go to lincolncountyhistory.com and to the Facebook page Lincoln County Historical Association Maine.