Isaac Goodnow Founder of manhattan & Bluemont agricultural college

Manhattan, Kansas 1863

Isaac Goodnow, native of East Greenwich, Rhode Island was a teacher of natural resources. He left his job and wife, Ellen Goodnow to board the steamboat, Kate Swinney to travel along the Missouri River. Kansas was appealing because it was an opportunity for a political and moral challenge for Goodnow

Missouri River

The hope for Manhattan:

"Make a New England settlement with the blessings of the Lord."


Wife: Ellen Goodnow

Reluctant to move to Kansas, Ellen joined Isaac despite her poor health. She traveled, bearing 200lbs of luggage. Isaac's brother William joined him on the expedition to the frontier. William's wife, Harriet refused to move to Kansas.


Isaac played a major role in the implementation of the Wyandotte Constitution--the Constitution of the state of Kansas. He rallied for the state to be free for blacks.


Always an advocate for public education, Goodnow was the State Superintendent for the state of Kansas. When President Lincoln passed the Morrill Land Grant College Act of 1862, Goodnow enabled Bluemont Agricultural College was able to open its doors. The first class included 26 men and 26 women.

Bluemont College

The college was funded by the New England Immigrant Aid Society and the Morrill Land Grant Act.

For more information on Mr. Goodnow, click the button below.

Credits: Craig Miner, Kansas: The History of the Sunflower State, 1854-2000 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas), 182.

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