Page 1

Earlier in the year that Amos Rydings died (1900) my Mother, Elizabeth Jane, had married Father, Frank Arthur Goodyear, and they had set up home in South Manchester but, after her father's death, the couple returned to Failsworth and 'Failsworth View' became their home where their three children were born: myself, Florence May, sister Lily and brother James Rutter.

I am thankful that I had a grandmother living next door to my home who, in her widowhood, had time or found time to absorb us, as children, into her life and interests. And what a lively mind she had and what a lot of interests - and what a jolly lot of relatives she had; they came on visits, they frequently brought gifts and curios with them and, when they went home (which often meant abroad), they wrote long letters. I was an avid reader of these and also an appreciative recipient of their gifts which we were encouraged to treasure. The parents of several of these visitors were sisters and brothers of great-grandmother, Ruth, and who in the mid-19th century had emigrated to various parts of the globe including New Zealand, the U.S.A., Canada, Australia and South Africa. They were real pioneering stock. One pet of my grandmother's was her Cousin George - he could do no wrong in our eyes. Imagine what a pleasure it was for me to find a bunch of his letters which my mother, before her death, had not had the heart to destroy.


Page 2

By reading these documents I was struck by the completeness of the association. This cousin left England in l864 with his parents and the whole of their family. They corresponded with their English relatives; they came over to visit the old country; correspondence was maintained regularly; their interests were remembered and shared.

Finally, even at the end of George's life, his son felt impelled to write a full report of the last illness and death of his father in 1921. Letters, educational books for the grandchildren, souvenir records of the Massachusetts Legislators for the adults, had all been received at 'The View'. It was not surprising, therefore, when I visited Boston, U.S.A. in 1967 that I felt I already knew the place from the wealth of knowledge he had imparted to us about the American state he had grown to love and serve. An extract from a Lawrence newspaper pays a tribute to his worthwhile life. I am including this along with copies of two of his letters which I consider worthy of preservation; one exposing his thoughts during World War I and the other, in a more contemplative fashion, shewing he had found in my father a kindred spirit. This last letter was written on June 6th, 1921. His sudden death took place on the 3rd of August following.

'A Sterling Citizen'

"No citizen of Lawrence gave more earnest thought to the welfare of the city than did George S. J. Hyde whose sudden death removed one of the city's best known residents.
As a member of the school board for sixteen years he successfully devoted himself to arousing an interest in progressive methods of education and nineteen years before the evening schools of the city were established he founded the Tower Hill Lyceum, which provided evening classes for young men of the district in which he resided and which greatly aided them in bettering their conditions of life.
Mr. Hyde always kept in close touch with civic affairs and his frank discussions of municipal problems in communications to the local newspapers during a long period of years often had an important bearing on their solution. His most conscientious efforts were always aimed at securing the betterment of conditions and he was quick to champion any movement which he considered meritorious. The death of Mr. Hyde deprives Lawrence of one of its most sterling citizens.


Page 3

To Mrs. E. J. Goodyear — Dec. 10th 1914

Dear Cousin Lizzie,

It is always a great pleasure to me to hear from you. It is like 'cold water to a thirsty soul' as the Good Book says. You confirm the information I get from the newspapers, that everyone in England is being brought into more or less close relations to this horrible war - words cannot express how horrible it is. It is the main topic of interest in this country as well as with you. It has affected us very seriously by an increased cost of living and an increased taxation, made necessary through decreased trade and, as a consequence, many have been thrown out of work. This shows that nations are like individuals - if one member suffers the whole body suffers likewise.

What a deplorable thing this.war is! It is gratifying to know that America is doing and giving so much to meet the needs of the suffering belligerents, especially the unfortunate Belgians. There is a great revival of old-fashioned knitting, and in many ways efficient aid is being given, to say nothing of some of the Rockefeller millions that will be used for the same purpose.

American newspapers, I think, contain as much news - concerning the war as do yours. News from all sides and half of it lies, and unfortunately we do not know which half. American sympathy - 75 per cent of it at least - is on the side of Great Britain and her allies. During my fifty years residence in America I have never seen American sentiment on a public question as favourable to England. Germany's shameful treatment of Belgium, if there were nothing else, has been enough to turn our sympathies from Kaiserdom and that in spite of the persistent efforts of eight millions of our people who are of German birth or blood. We are fortunate in having a President who keeps a firm grip on our affairs and is determined that America shall remain neutral. It is best that we should be neutral - then when the end of the war comes - and let us pray it may come soon - we shall be in a position to play a useful and necessary part in the international settlement of affairs. It is also better that we should be neutral for our own well-being. Our population is a great conglomeration of races, with differing sympathies and feelings. Take Lawrence as an example. We have 8,000 Germans, all earnest partisans for 'the Fatherland'. There are 7,000 Italians, 5,000 Belgians, 10,000 Canadian French, 20,000 British and Irish, besides Russians, Poles, Jews, Turks and representatives of more numerous nationalities than were present at Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. With such a mixture, if we are to have peace in the family, we must be neutral.


Page 4


Since I began the writing of this letter my morning paper has been brought to me containing the news of the British naval victory near the Falkland Islands. Hurrah! Rule Britannia! Britannia rule the Waves! Britons never, never &c.... I couldn't help but I had to "brast eawt". Well, Lizzie, I began to write you a letter but have produced nothing but a lot of political chatter. You didn't tell me whether John had recovered from his illness. I hope so, not only for his own sake, but also that he may be able to keep Priscilla in order who, I suppose, keeps as saucy as ever.

I hope your mother is keeping well and has a 'bit of the Warren sperrit' in her yet. The other day a Newton Heath friend of mine sent me an 'Ashton Reporter' and in looking over the Failsworth section I saw an item stating that a Mrs. A. Rydings had contributed some humorous songs at a public entertainment. I have been wondering ever since if it could have been your mother. If so, she must be renewing her youth.

I trust Frank is well. I had a letter from him several years since, which I liked so well I have been longing for another ever since. Asa and Flossie and Lily and Jim I suppose are fast growing up. Old Father Time is sure to get in his work. I remember going with your mother to visit her mother (my Aunt Ruth) and after I had explained to her who I was and that my sisters were all grown up she quietly remarked, "Yes, ill weeds will up."

Behold how large a letter I have written you with mine own hand - and a bad hand it is you will be saying - cut it short George. Well I will do as you say by sending my sincere love to you all, in which my wife heartily joins. We also wish you all a Merry Xmas and a Happy, Bright New Year,

Your loving Cousin, Geo...

Page 5

From Lawrence, June 6th 1921

Dear Cousin Frank,

I was very glad that you found opportunity to write me such an interesting letter. It is long since I heard from you. I thank you for the cheery and friendly tone in which your letter is written. It sounds very pleasant to me ts have you call one whom I love and reverence as I do, John G. Whittier, 'your friend'. As you say l am 'right on the spot'. I assure you that to be situated in the centre of Yankeedom is a blessing which I greatly appreciate and certainly Whittier is as closely associated with the locality in which I live as any of our noted men and I am going to describe to you my geographical position in relation to him as well as I can. If you do not care to hear it you can 'skip' this part of my letter and set it down to the wanderings of an old man in his dotage.

Lawrence is a rather prosaic industrial city of nearly 100,000 inhabitants. When I came to it in 1864 it was only about 17 years old and was in a rather crude, ramshackle condition, everything of wood, wooden bridges and sidewalks of wooden planks etc... It is divided into two almost equal parts by the Merrimack River which has a fall here that furnishes a great water-power to turn our mill wheels. The northern part was taken from the town of Methuen, and that town was originallya part of the town of Haverhill. And here let me say that the first towns in this country such as Haverhill, Salem and Lynn were of enormous size, almost as big as an English county. Pieces were chipped off as circumstances demanded to form another town nearly all of them being named after some town in England from whence the people had emigrated. Haverhill must have stretched about 20 miles along the Merrimack River and Methuen was one of the towns chipped off. The southern half of Lawrence was detached from Andover, which is about as old as Haverhill, dating from 1641.

Andover is a fine old town., Here, Harriet Beecher Stowe lived at one time and wrote some of her noted books and here, in the beautiful little cemetery, she lies buried among many other noted men and women. Her husband was a professor in Andover Seminary. She wrote' Uncle Tom's Cabin' when in Brunswick, Maine, where her husband was then professor in Bowdoin College and came to Andover soon after where she wrote 'The Minister's Wooing', 'The Pearl of Orr's Island', 'Agnes of Sorrento' and 'Dred', a sort of sequel to 'Uncle Tom'.

In Andover, also, was brought up Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, author of 'Gates Ajar' and some other stories that made a stir in their day. Andover is the home of 'Andover Seminary' for the training of ministers and of 'Andover Academy' which stands as near to Eton or Rugby with you as any preparatory school in America and which has had the training of many noted men, Oliver W. Holmes among the number. I could fill a letter a yard long about Andover but I turn to Haverhill, which you say always brings to your mind one of your best friends when you hear it mentioned.

Let me say that Haverhill Street, in which my house is No.620, starts in Lowell, 9 miles further up the Merrimack, then it runs through Lawrence and with many a twist and turn and, under different names, forms the highway to Haverhill, altogether about 20 miles. We take a trolly car in Haverhill for a three mile ride farther on into the open country, until we hear the conductor call out 'Whittier House', and to the left, a few rods from the highway, the ancient homestead appears. Let us go in for a little while, as I have done several times, for the place has been 'saved' and the house and its surroundings restored to their original condition. Crossing the little wooden bridge which spans the brook which the poet alludes to in 'The Barefoot Boy' and other poems, we go towards the house, taking note of the huge well-sweep and the bridle-post mentioned in 'Snowbound'. Like so many buildings of the period the house seems to have been built around the massive chimney with its fireplace eight feet wide, with its crane and its trammels swinging on one side, the oven at the back on the other side. The kitchen is of generous size - almost the entire length of the house - 36 ft...

I must refer you to 'Snowbound' for a more particular description and must pass on further along the Merrimack, which the poet has made classic ground, 'til we come to Amesbury, a town of ten or twelve thousand people, where Whittier spent the greater part of his life with his niece. This house is preserved with the same pious care as his birthplace and we are privileged to see it as the poet left it. Here were written most of his anti-slavery poems.


Page 6

Next we stroll down Friend Street to see the Friends' Meeting House, where the Whittiers worshipped, a severely plain structure, interesting as the house built under Whittier's direction half a century ago. When the details of its construction were left to him there were some few amongst the conservatives who said "that since he had at that time mixed with the world's people more than with his brethren he would provide too many comforts in it, perhaps even give it a steeple". But to offset this feeling he shrewdly employed as builders three unquestioned Quaker carpenters, one of them a Quaker minister and the other two elders of the society, with the result - a thoroughly orthodox Quaker Meeting House, within and without. It is of a considerable walk to the hillside burying-ground where are the graves of the Whittiers. The Whittier lot is easily recognised. An opening at one side gave admittance to the grassy enclosure. Before us lies a line of plain, low marble headstones. Here are the remains of the loved ones immortalised in 'Snowbound' - Uncle Moses, father and mother, sisters Mary and Lizzie and brother Franklin. The poet's grave is at the end of the row and bears on its face 'John Greenleaf Whittier 1807 — l892' and on the reverse, 'Here Whittier lies', the tribute of O.W. Holmes after his death.

Let us travel further on the Merrimack itself, as I did once for the 26 miles from Lawrence to its mouth. In Amesbury is the 'Chain Bridge' and Deer Island; the home of another noted american author, Harriet Prescott Spofford and on to Newburyport, lifting its steeples above the brown roofs and green trees on its banks. It is a famous old city - let us spare an hour to visit the birthplace of William Lloyd Garrison, the most noted of all the abolitionists.

You could throw a stone from the house to the old Federal St. Church where are the bones of George Whitfield. Like a good Methodist born and bred, I hunt up the janitor, who courteously displays to us its treasures. I was permitted to hold the Bible which Whitfield had read, and to stand before the cenotaph at one side of the pulpit, erected in Whitfield's memory, and scanned the various portraits of the preacher on the wall, and then piloted by our friend, the janitor, we descended into the crypt, under the pulpit, where the honoured remains are deposited. There is a romantic story comes in here, but I cannot stay to tell it. Newburyport is noted in New England history, before the advent of steam, and is fairly redolent of Whittier and so are Salisbury Beach and Hampton, and at Hampton Falls several miles fairly inland, the good poet died.

Now Frank I have tried to say something about your friend Whittier. The subject or something akin to it, will be 'continued in our next' if you intimate a wish for it. And Longfellow, as you say, is a residential acquaintance and so Lowell and Holmes and Lexington, Concord, Boston and Bunker Hill are familiar names and scenes to me. I see from the papers that you have another big strike on your hands - cotton is now added to coal. I am glad that you are optimistic enough to endorse Robert Browning's lines 'God's in his heaven - all's right with the world'. That is the spirit which Old England is in need of as much as she ever was.

I trust that all is well with you and with all my Failsworth Cousins'. My dear cousin, Mrs. Rydings, will have passed her 80th birthday. I hope she was well enough to thoroughly enjoy it, as she so well deserves to do. I shall await with what patience I possess a description of the day's events from someone, Lizzie or Priscilla. My wife's eye is doing favourably though it needs constant care and attention. She is now troubled with rheumatism in her right leg, which she finds to be the wrong one. For myself, the less said the better. I hate to enumerate all my ailments. For a month past I have been a very sick man, but the clouds are beginning to break a little and I am now looking for a little sunshine - both literally and metaphorically. And now Frank, 'Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand'.

Your letter to me has cheered me so much that like Oliver Twist with his workhouse porridge I am going to tell you that I want some more. My wife joins me in hearty love to Lizzie and yourself and your olive branches and to all at 581 also, and believe me to be,

Yours sincerely,

Geo. S. J. Hyde

Failsworth View 1840


'Robert a'th' View' - Chapter list