Chapter 1 – The beginning
The Good family
John Lewis Good was born on February 3, 1853 in Pennsylvania to John B. Good and Martha Hassell Good. He was the youngest of five children born when his father was 56 years old and his mother was just 41!
John B. was an undertaker, the precursor to a funeral director, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the 1800s funerals were very different than today; visitation would be held at home, followed by the procession to the church and grave site. The person who would make the casket, dig the grave, and fill the grave, or who oversaw these tasks was called an undertaker, for they were undertaking the necessary tasks for the bereaved family. On the 1870 census, John Lewis is listed as “App to Undertaker”, obviously having joined his father in his business as an apprentice. But in 1877, John Lewis lost both of his parents within five months of each other, leaving him the family business and serving as head of the house, as the 1880 census shows.
Between 1877 and 1890, John Lewis Good had established a successful business and military career. Various city directories from 1877 through 1915, list J. Lewis Good as an undertaker living on Spruce Street in Philadelphia and on Llanwellyn Avenue in Llanwellyn. A map of Llanwellyn in 1892, lists the home belonging to “Major Good”, and it took a little digging to find that John Lewis had enlisted in the Pennsylvania National Guard in 1871, as a Private and had been promoted to Major in 1887. It was in 1892, after the map had been created, that he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Early Philadelphia was notorious for infectious disease, during the colonial era typhoid, smallpox, and yellow fever were rampant, spread by a lack of knowledge (drinking dirty water) and exasperated by a lack of scientific medical treatment (leaches?!?!). In the 1800s, a new wave of disease spread, cholera, typhus, and tuberculosis. Many wealthy Philadelphia’s created summer homes outside the city where they and their families could go for fresh air and to avoid illness. Major John Lewis Good, being a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard and a successful undertaker, would have understood the health benefits of a summer home for his family.
In 1886, Henry J. Scott, a Philadelphia based attorney purchased 50 acres of land and laid out the streets of a new development, Llanwellyn, Welsh for “Spring has Come”. On March 15, 1889, Major John Lewis Good purchases lots 131 – 134 (shown in red) in the new Llanwellyn development and construction begins on the home. Twenty seven months later, in the spring of 1891, Major Good purchases lots 145 – 147 (shown in green) expanding the area surrounding the home.
Lt. Colonel John Lewis Good commanded approximately 1000 men in the First Pennsylvanian Regiment during the Spanish American War in 1898, serving his country in the Pennsylvania National Guard until his death in 1919, rising to the rank of Major General. The Good family are buried at Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, one of the very first planned cemeteries in the city not associated with a church. There are many notable people buried in the cemetery with the Good family: General George Meade, David Rittenhouse, and Harry Kalas.
Between 1902 and 1908 the home is sold to James H. Clark and another chapter begins…