Goodman Family

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A Guide to the Goodman Family Papers, 1810-1971
Call Number Mss1 G6245 a FA2


Main Entry: Goodman family.
Title: Papers, 1810-1971.
Size: ca. 1,400 items (11 manuscript boxes, plus oversize)
Biographical Note: While named for the Goodman family, this collection actually starts with the Nevins family of Waterford, Ireland. Hannah (Fayle) Nevins and Thomas Nevins had a daughter, Hannah Nevins (1821-1905), who emigrated to the United States in 1849. She married Robert Clarendon Jones (1803?-1893), a New Orleans native who eventually settled at "Hunters Hoe," Fairfax County, Va. Hannah Nevins took a different surname from her husband, "Ions," and this name was also used by the couple's three children, Penrose Nevins Ions (1852-1922), Robert Nevins Ions (1855-1949), and Lelia Nevins Ions (d. 1948). Robert Nevins Ions married his uncle's widow, Cecile (Goodman) Nevins (1840-1930) and had a daughter, Willoughby Ions (1881-1977). Cecile (Goodman) Nevins Ions's brother, Edward Samuel Goodman (1851-1931) is the major figure of these papers.

Chiefly records of Edward Samuel Goodman (1851-1931) of New Orleans, La., and Richmond, Va., who worked for a succession of southern railroads before serving as a member of the Virginia State Corporation Commission and an official of the Virginia Shippers' Association. The bulk of his materials concern these two organizations, but also represented are the Lewis Ginter Land and Improvement Co., the Laburnum Corporation, and the Richmond Chamber of Commerce.

Also represented with substantial materials are Lelia Nevins Ions (d. 1948) of Petersburg, Va., nurse, poet, and artist, including lines of verse and a sketchbook containing scenes of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia; and Willoughby Ions (1881-1977) of "Hunters Hoe," Fairfax County, and Richmond, Va., fashion designer, writer, and composer, including correspondence concerning her career and reminiscences of her work with the WPA programs in Virginia.

Other family members are represented to a lesser degree, but significant items include a letter from William Whitney Christmas, early aviator, to Robert Nevins Ions, a fellow pioneer in experimenting in early manned flight; correspondence of Cecile (Goodman) Nevins Ions (1840-1930) with her agent concerning the sale of her paintings; and a letter from George Bushnell to Lelia Nevins Ions (d. 1948) concerning the Ions family genealogy.


Gift of Mrs. James Bertrand Cox, Richmond, Va., in 1979. Accessioned 7 July 1986.

NOTE: The Goodman family papers (Mss1G6245aFA2), the Houston family papers (Mss1H8185aFA2), and the papers of Adele Clark (Mss1C5472aFA2) came to the Virginia Historical Society in 1979 from the same source, the home of Adele Clark. Researchers should understand the interrelationship of these collections and are advised to consult all three descriptions before requesting materials.

Restrictions: None.

Collection Description

The Goodman family papers begin with papers of Hannah (Fayle) Nevins (1787- ) of Waterford, Ireland. Her correspondence consists entirely of letters from her husband-to-be, Thomas Nevins, and his brother, Penrose Nevins, in 1810. Other papers include birth certificates for nine of her eleven children and an 1812 marriage certificate (located with oversized materials). This document is signed by members of Waterford’s Quaker meeting.

Hannah (Nevins) Ions (1821-1905), daughter of Thomas Nevins and Hannah (Fayle) Nevins, emigrated to this country in 1849. Two years later she married Robert Clarendon Jones (ca. 1803-1893), a New Orleans native and midshipman in the United States Navy. The couple eventually settled in Hunters Hoe, Fairfax County, Va. Jones’s correspondence is primarily with family members and his land records consist of two deeds for property in Fairfax. An 1823 promotion signed by Secretary of the Navy Smith Thompson and a petition to President Andrew Jackson from Ralph Randolph Gurley requesting a Naval Academy appointment for Jones’s son; Penrose Nevins Ions, are found among U. S. Navy materials.

Hannah (Nevins) Ions assumed a surname different from that of her husband, although the reason for this remains unclear. The couple’s three children all retained the “Ions” name. The papers of Hannah (Nevins) Ions include general correspondence, land records, pension materials, and miscellany. Land records pertain to inherited property near Waterford and include correspondence with her attorney and brother-in-law, Thomas Fitzgerald Strange, as well as deeds and suit papers. In 1896, HNI tried to obtain a naval widow’s pension from Congress. These papers include correspondence with Washington lawyer Samuel H. Lewis and Virginia congressman Elisha Edward Meredith.

Robert Clarendon Jones and Hannah (Nevins) Ions had three children: Penrose Nevins Ions (1852-1922), Robert Nevins Ions (1855-1949), and Lelia Nevins Ions ( -1948). Robert Nevins Ions, a Fairfax farmer, was also a pioneer in aviation and his correspondence includes a letter from William Whitney Christmas, another early experimenter in manned flight. Land records and estate materials pertain to Hunters Hoe in Fairfax County. In 1879, Robert Nevins Ions married his uncle’s widow, Cecile (Goodman) Nevins Ions (1840-1930). Her correspondence consists of letters with her brother, Edward Samuel Goodman, and Wilhelm Wetsel, an agent who sold her paintings. Accounts and miscellany follow.

Lelia Nevins Ions was a nurse who spent most of her adult life in Petersburg, Va. Her papers begin with a memoranda book from 1935. Correspondence includes letters of Carter Glass in 1922 concerning Penrose Nevins Ions’s reappointment as post master of San Angelo, Texas, and Virginia congressman Robert Walton Moore. A letter from George Bushnell contains genealogical notes on the Ions family. A few accounts and financial items precede letters of introduction and recommendation concerning LNI’s career as a nurse. Materials concerning the estate of Penrose Nevins Ions include correspondence with his widow and attorneys. Subsequent correspondence deals with LNI’s efforts to dispose of property in San Angelo left her by her brother.

Like many individuals in this collection, Lelia Nevins Ions had a wide range of artistic interests and talents. A section of verse consists of copies of popular poetry as well as original works. A sketchbook contains drawings of Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland landscapes. Three scrapbooks of newspaper clippings and a section of miscellany conclude Lelia Nevins Ions’s papers.

Edward Samuel Goodman (1851-1931), brother of Cecile (Goodman) Nevins Ions, was a New Orleans native who spent a twenty-year career with a succession of southern railroads before becoming the Richmond Chamber of Commerce’s firs traffic manager in 1894. Goodman continued in this capacity until 1926, when disability forced him to resign and accept an advisory position with the chamber. An expert on rail traffic and freight rates, Goodman was a candidate for a position on the State Corporation Commission when that organization was created by the constitution of 1901-02.

A large portion of Goodman’s papers reflect his life in retirement and his activities as secretary of the Virginia Shippers’ Association from 1924 to 1929. General correspondence, institutional correspondence and accounts primarily pertain to this 1926 to 1930 period, as do the materials that deal with his activities during retirement, such as gardening and writing. (These are located at the end of ESG’s papers). Financial records consist almost entirely of state and local tax receipts, dog license receipts, and state income tax returns. Real property records include correspondence, receipts and deeds and contracts pertaining to Goodman’s home in Ginter Park, as well as property in Laburnum Park.

Only one item, an 1877 rate statement, pertains to Goodman’s railroad career. Richmond Chamber of Commerce materials include correspondence and reports concerning both Goodman’s appointment as traffic manager in 1894 and 1895 allegation, made by the Norfolk and Wester Railroad, that Goodman was unfairly using information obtained while in their employ. Several copies of reports, amendments and by-laws from 1905 and 1908 follow.

The state constitution of 1901-02 provided for a State Corporation Commission to supervise and regulate railroads and corporate business. As preciously mentioned, ESG was a candidate for a position on the three-man commission; he was, in fact, supported by Allen Caperton Braxton, the Staunton lawyer generally regarded as the individual most responsible for its creation. Despite the efforts of Braxton and others, Goodman’s bid was unsuccessful.

Goodman’s State Corporation Commission papers include correspondence, endorsements, clippings and miscellany. Correspondence with individuals and institutions, which largely consists of requests for endorsement and support is interfiled and arranged alphabetically. Major correspondents include Allen Caperton Braxton, W. H. Lumsden, traffic manager of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, and Danville businessman Greenhow Maury. Other correspondents include Charles Vivian Meredith, William Thomas Reed, Joseph Stebbins, John Arthur Upshur, the Bristol Board of Trade, Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce, Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, and the Travelers’ Protective Association of America. Correspondence with these professional organizations often includes clippings from local newspapers. Unanswered form letters requesting endorsement or acknowledging support follow. Copies of endorsements, obtained by Goodman from the governor’s office in 1903, are preceded by an index. Clippings and miscellany conclude this section.

The Virginia Shippers’ Association was founded in 1922 to protect the interests of Virginia railway users by preparing and prosecuting cases before the Interstate Commerce Commission and State Corporation Commission. Goodman’s VSA papers mostly concern finance; there is little concerning individual cases. Expenses of the organization’s Washington office, expenses charged to the SCC, and treasurer’s reports and balance sheets are arranged chronologically. In 1926,, the VSA was reorganized and efforts made to gain additional subscribers. Correspondence, materials of individual refinancing committees, lists of subscribers and letters of acknowledgment document this reorganization.

In early 1928, Goodman wrote a series of articles in the Richmond Times-Dispatch concerning the city’s need for a steamship line to Atlantic ports. Correspondence concerning these articles as well as copies of drafts are included. Goodman’s VSA materials conclude with a section of ICC miscellany which contains letters and clippings about the Eastern Class Rate Case of 1925.

In 1926, Goodman retired from active service with the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, but continued to work in an advisory capacity. Letters, resolutions and testimonials concerning his retirement, as well as a few letters concerning railroad rate cases, document this change in status. Goodman spent his final years writing and gardening. Correspondence and notes recording the progress of his orchards and letters and drafts of articles, fiction and non-fiction, are found in this section. Miscellany and estate materials conclude Edward Samuel Goodman’s papers.

Willoughby Ions (1881-1977), daughter of Robert Nevins Ions and Cecila (Goodman) Nevins Ions, was a noted composer, artist, poet and dramatist, but is probably most well-known as a designer of batik gowns. Born Estelle deWilloughby Ions in New Orleans, La., WI spent most of her adult life in New York City, Fairfax County, and Richmond, Va. As a young woman she was married briefly twice, but retained her maiden name.

Although the papers of Willoughby Ions span the last fifty years of her life, most pertain to the period following her arrival in Richmond in the early 1940's. Correspondence, most of which remains unidentified, is mostly with family members but also includes letters with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s personal secretary, Louis McHenry Howe, James Thurber, and Richmond artist Nora Houston. Institutional correspondence includes letters concerning WI’s career as a designer, writer and composer. A letter from the Writers’ Workshop contains a critique of her play, “The Age of Innocents.”

Several accounts and financial items precede land records. With the death of her father in 1949, Willoughby Ions inherited approximately thirty-four acres of land in Fairfax County between Fairfax Station and Clifton. Materials concerning the property are arranged chronologically and include correspondence, deeds, plats, and miscellany. A transcript of a 1964 interview concerns WI’s early life in Fairfax as well as her activities with the WPA’s Federal Arts Project and its Virginia director, Adele Clark. (Clark and Willoughby Ions were first cousins.) Lines of verse, clippings and miscellany, which includes a bound volume of articles from various magazines, follow. A few items of Goodman, Ions and Jones family miscellany conclude the Goodman family papers.


Series I. Hannah (Fayle) Nevins (b. 1787), Waterford, Ireland.

Box 1: correspondence, 1810; birth certificates, 1813-1829

Series II. Robert Clarendon Jones (ca. 1803-1893), Hunter Hoe, Fairfax County, Va.

Box 1 (cont.): correspondence, 1819-1891; land records, 1874-1883; U. S. Navy materials, 1823-1867; miscellany

Series III. Hannah (Nevins) Ions (1821-1905), Waterford, Ireland and Fairfax County, Va.

Box 1 (cont.): general correspondence, 1851-1901; land records, 1848-1850; naval widow’s pension, 1896; miscellany

Series IV. Robert Nevins Ions (1855-1949), Hunter Hoe, Fairfax County, Va.

Box 1 (cont.):   correspondence, 1873-1943; land records, 1933-1946; miscellany; estate materials

Series V. Cecile (Goodman) Nevins Ions (1840-1930), Hunters Hoe, Fairfax County, Va.

Box 1 (cont.): correspondence, 1877-1887, 1929-1930; accounts, 1870-1877; miscellany

Series VI. Lelia Nevins Ions (d. 1948), Petersburg, Va.

Box                                2: general correspondence, 1880-1942; accounts and financial records, 1904-1930; letters of introduction and recommendation; estate of Penrose Nevins Ions, 1922-1929, 1934-1936, 1939-1940; lines of verse                                  
Box 3: sketchbook; scrapbooks; miscellany

Series VII. Edward Samuel Goodman (1851-1931), Richmond, Va.

Box                                4: general correspondence, 1927-1931; correspondence with institutions, 1911, 1924-1931; accounts, 1927-1931
Box 5: financial records, 1894-1931; real property records (Lewis Ginter Land and Improvement Co., 1908-1917, Laburnum Corporation, 1914-1922); Chicago, St. Louis and New Orleans Railroad, 1877; Richmond Chamber of Commerce, 1893-1895, 1905, 1908
Box 6: State Corporation Commission: correspondence, 1902
Box 7: State Corporation Commission: miscellaneous correspondence, endorsements, clippings and miscellany, 1902-1903; Virginia Shippers’ Association: expenses of Washington office, 1924-1928
Box 8: Virginia Shippers’ Association: expenses charged to SCC, 1924-1927; treasurer’s reports and balance sheets, 1925-1928; reorganization, 1926-1929
Box 9: Virginia Shippers’ Association: port of Richmond, 1927-1929 and Interstate Commerce Commission materials; Richmond Chamber of Commerce, 1926-1930
Box 10: orchards, 1927-1928; short stories, 1930; clippings; miscellany; estate

Series VIII. Willoughby Ions (1881-1977), Fairfax County and Richmond, Va.

Box 10                          (cont.): general correspondence, 1933-1971, unidentified A-K
Box 11: general correspondence, 1933-1971, L-W; correspondence with institutions, 1924-1961; accounts and financial records, 1920-1968; land records, 1950-1964; St. James’s Church, 1961-1962; transcript of interview, 1964; lines of verse; clippings; miscellany

Series IX. Family miscellany and oversized materials.

Boxes 11 (cont.)-12  

Last updated: February 12, 2002