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Dr. Robert Beardsley Goodyear, of North Haven, has always looked upon his profession as an opportunity for service and has been in a marked degree not only the trusted physician but also the personal friend and counselor of his patients. He is quiet and unassuming but his personality is such as to make him a leader and he has twice been honored with election to the presidency of the New Haven county Medical Society.

Dr. Goodyear was born in North Haven, November 6, 1835, a son of Bela H. and Delia A. (Gill) Goodyear. The father was born in Hamden in 1798 and died in 1885, while the mother's birth occurred in North Haven in 1825 and her death in 1884. The Goodyear family has been represented in America for many generations as in 1646 one Stephen Goodyear, a London merchant, crossed the Atlantic and located in New Haven. He gained prominence in the colony, of which he became lieutenant governor. In the present day the family name is associated in the minds of most people with the manufacture of rubber products and the Goodyear who first made rubber shoes and other articles is a cousin of our subject. The father was prominent in his community and was characterized by strong patriotism and at the time of the Civil war cheerfully gave six of his seven sons for service in the army, the seventh son being too young to be accepted. One of them was General E. D. S. Goodyear. Bela H. Goodyear, the father of our subject, engaged in farming in Hamden and met with gratifying success in that connection.

Robert B. Goodyear attended the local schools and also the schools of Wallingford and in his early manhood taught for a time in Oxford, North Haven and Windsor in this state. In 1862, although he had begun to prepare for the medical profession, which he hoped to make his life work, he put aside his personal plans and ambitions and joined the Union army as a member of Company B, Twenty-seventh Regiment of Connecticut Volunteers, which he entered with the rank of sergeant. He took part in the battle of Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862, and in that of Chancellorsville, May 1-3, 1863. He was captured by the enemy and held a prisoner at Richmond for some time but in the latter part of 1863 was honorably discharged from the army by reason of expiration of his term of enlistment. The following year he entered the Yale Medical School and in 1865, while still a student, was appointed resident physician at the State Hospital at New Haven. In 1866 he became a physician at the Hartford Hospital and the following year worked under the eminent alienist, Dr. J. S. Butler, at the Retreat for the Insane at Hartford. In 186S he received the degree of M. D. from Yale and at once began the independent practice of his profession at North Haven. He has since remained here and for almost a half century has been the loved and honored family physician of almost the entire community and in many homes in the surrounding towns. He has conscientiously kept in touch with the change in methods of treatment and is recognized by his colleagues as an up-to-date and very successful practitioner. To his patients he stands in the relation of friend as well as physician and his life has exemplified the older ideals of the profession. To him the practice of medicine has never been a business or even a cold science but it has always been an opportunity to minister to the needs of others. For twenty-five years and more he has been medical examiner and health physician for North Haven and he has twice been elected president of the New Haven County Medical Society. He has always taken a great deal of interest in the work of that body as well as of the New Haven County Health Association of which he was a charter member and a member of the executive board since its organization. He is now retired to a great extent but still practices somewhat as many of his old patients insist on his attending them.

Dr. Goodyear was married May 19, 1869, to Miss Jane Lyman, who died in March, 1878. To them were born two children: Anna Lyman, at home; and Robert W., deceased. On the 26th of June, 1884, Dr. Goodyear was united in marriage to Miss Ellen M. Hotchkiss, a daughter of Stephen and Maria (Goodyear) Hotchkiss, of New Haven. Her father was a ship chandler and rope manufacturer, as was his father before him, and the family has been well known and highly esteemed in eastern Connecticut for many years. Mrs. Goodyear takes a prominent part in the social life of her community and is a woman of many fine qualities.

Dr. Goodyear is a republican but has never sought political office. For more than fifty years he has served on the school board of North Haven and for more than thirty years has been school visitor and secretary of the board. There is no man who has done more or as much for the advancement of the schools as he.  He has also been active in the work of the Grange, believing that sound agricultural development is the basis of all other prosperity in a section, and he has filled the offices of lecturer and chaplain of the Grange. Through .his membership in Admiral Foote Post, No. 17, G. A. R., in which he has served as patriotic instructor, he keeps in touch with other veterans of the Civil war. He belongs to Corinthian Lodge, A. F. & A. M., and to the Foresters, of which organization he is medical examiner. In religious faith he is a Congregationalist and the work of the church as well as of other movements calculated to upbuild the community has profited by his continued and earnest support. Throughout his life he has remained a student and his personality is the expression of the old ideal of a scholar and gentleman marked by a strength of character unmarred by ostentation.

Modern History of New Haven
Eastern New Haven County


Volume II

New York Chicago
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company 

pgs 120 - 123 

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Elaine Kidd O'Leary & 
Anne Taylor-Czaplewski
May 2002