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Caroline L Goodenough

Legends, Loves and Loyalties of Old New England

Rochester’s Caroline Leonard Goodenough (1856-1946) and her husband spent 35 years as missionaries to the Zulus in Africa. An author of poems, hymns and other writings, one of her best known books is Legends, Loves and Loyalties of Old New England, an extensively researched genealogy of the extended Leonard family.

Caroline Leonard Goodenough (1856-1946) was born in Bridgewater, MA on December 31, 1856, the seventh child of James Madison and Jane Thompson Leonard. When it was time for her further education in 1873, Caroline attended Oberlin College in Ohio and graduated from there in 1877.

Oberlin was a Christian school known for preparing teachers, ministers, and missionaries. At Oberlin, Caroline not only completed her education, but she also met her future husband, Herbert D. Goodenough. They married in 1878. Once her husband had completed his work at the Theology School at Oberlin, they and their two young sons set sail from Boston in 1881 to begin their lives as missionaries in Africa. Caroline cared for her growing family and worked with women at the different missions where they were stationed.

With only occasional trips back to America, the couple spent 35 years as missionaries to the Zulu people in Africa. Over the years, their four sons and a daughter were often not with them because of schooling needs.

Caroline Leonard Goodenough, like her sister Mary Hall Leonard, was an author of many poems, hymns and books. Natal Lilies and Other Poems, published in South Africa in 1897, was clearly sympathetic to Black Africans. The Shallop: Words and Melodies was a collection of children’s songs published in 1912. That same year, Long, Long Ago on the Farm: And Other Poems, a book of children’s poems, was published. Perhaps her best known book is Legends, Loves and Loyalties of Old New England, an extensively researched genealogy of the extended Leonard family. It has become invaluable as an historical record.

Caroline’s husband Herbert died in 1927 in Rochester. She lived in Florida at times and returned to Africa after her husband’s death. Later she lived with her sisters in Rochester and died in 1946. Both Caroline and Herbert are buried in the Center Cemetery in Rochester, and their gravestone identifies them as missionaries to the Zulus.

Connie Eshbach

Information from

  • Goodenough, Caroline Leonard. Legends, Loves and Loyalties of Old New England. [1930].

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