FRANK HENRY GOODYEAR, who died May 13, 1907, was the foremost figure in the lumber interests of the East, a leading factor in railroad affairs and a dominant force in the commercial, industrial and financial world. Railroad president, lumber and coal operator, iron manufacturer and financier, his responsibilities probably exceeded in extent and variety those of any other citizen of Buffalo. The great enterprises which he controlled were the results of his own energy and foresight, and every phase of his career is marked with the impress of unerring sagacity, indomitable resolution and sterling integrity.
Mr. Goodyear was born at Groton, Tompkins County, New York, March 17th, 1849. He was the son of Dr. Bradley Goodyear and Esther P. Goodyear and came of Scotch and English ancestry. He received his education in the public schools, at East Aurora Academy and from private tutors. After some time spent in teaching in district schools he became bookkeeper for Robert Looney, who operated sawmills at Looneyville, N. Y. In 1871 he came to Buffalo, where he engaged in the coal and lumber trade. Beginning on a small scale he soon extended his operations, making extensive purchases of timber tracts in McKean, Potter, Elk and Cameron Counties, Pa. The course thus pursued by Mr. Goodyear was characteristic of his remarkable acumen. Many years before he began to acquire holdings in Pennsylvania, men were saying that the lumber ' supply of that state would soon become exhausted. Mr. Goodyear had the foresight to grasp the situation. In the deserted and so-called inaccessible districts Mr. Goodyear saw the possibilities of a fortune. As fast as he could acquire or enlist capital he bought large areas of hemlock and hardwood timber lands, and his purchases in northwestern Pennsylvania were the nucleus of his later operations. Before Mr. Goodyear's day the only way of getting timber to milling points was by means of watercourses. He made the innovation of building railroad lines for the especial purpose of furnishing transportation for lumber. His railways were not the ordinary type of logging road, but of standard gauge and permanent construction. He built sawmills in immediate proximity to the forests and was the pioneer of the steam log loader.
In 1887 Mr. Goodyear became associated in business with his brother, Charles W. Goodyear, and the Arm of F. H. & C. W. Goodyear was established. In 1902 it was reorganized as the Goodyear Lumber Company, with Prank H. Goodyear as President. To facilitate his lumber shipments, Mr. Goodyear had in 1885 built at his own expense a small railroad, the Sinnemahoning Valley, and later the Goodyear brothers incorporated the Buffalo & Susquehanna Railroad, into which the earlier lines were merged. The road now embraces main lines nearly 400 miles in length, including an extension to Buffalo completed in 1906, and traverses a large; agricultural, timber and bituminous coal district. It will have permanency in its operation far beyond the life of the great forests that lie along its path, its future as a coal-carrying road being assured, to say nothing of its passenger and general freight possibilities. Mr. Goodyear was counted the head of the hemlock industry in the United States, the total Goodyear holdings in Pennsylvania having an annual output of 200,000,000 feet of hemlock and nearly as much more in hardwoods, all of which is shipped over the Buffalo & Susquehanna Railroad. In 1902 Mr. Goodyear and some of his associates made an initial purchase of 90,000 acres of yellow pine timber in the Southern States, additional tracts being taken until 600,000 acres were acquired, all being properties of various companies, the most important being the Great Southern Lumber Company, of which Mr. Goodyear was President.
Mr. Goodyear was the owner of large bituminous coal interests in the Reynoldsville (Pa.) district, and was President of the Buffalo and Susquehanna Coal and Coke Company, an important adjunct of the Goodyear enterprises. He was President of the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railway Company, the Buffalo & Susquehanna Steamship Company and Vice-. President of the Buffalo and Susquehanna Iron Company, the latter being one of Buffalo's foremost industries. The Company operates two large furnaces at South Buffalo, both of the most modern type. The plant cost over $4,000,000, and has a capacity of 225,000 tons of pig iron annually. Besides its South Buffalo plant, the Company is the owner of immense ore properties in the Lake Superior region. An important enterprise of Mr. Goodyear's later years was the New Orleans Great Northern Railroad Company, of which he was President, and which, under his able and progressive management, was so developed that it will soon have 250 miles of main line. Mr. Goodyear was a Director of the United States Leather Company and also of the Marine National Bank of Buffalo, and was a potent factor in many Buffalo industries. The account above given is simply an outline narrative of his chief activities as an industrialist, organizer and financier, and in arriving at a just estimate of his life work the fact must be borne in mind that Mr. Goodyear's principal enterprises carried others in their wake, and that in addition to the projects which filled the largest place in the public eye, he was a potent factor of many others, either accessory or awaiting development in the future.
In his relations to Buffalo and the community at large, Mr. Goodyear was a broad-minded, public-spirited citizen. Elective offices were often tendered him, but he always declined such honors. However, he rendered the City of Buffalo efficient service as a member of the Board of Park Commissioners, and when^ in 1886, President Cleveland appointed him a Commissioner to examine a section of the line of the Northern Pacific Railroad, on behalf of the Government, he discharged the duties of the place with characteristic ability and zeal. One of Mr. Goodyear's most notable efforts in a civic direction was his offer to contribute $100,000 for the erection of a Zoological Garden for Buffalo and the purchase of an exhibit, the project being planned upon the liberal lines typical of whatever Mr. Goodyear undertook. It was proposed to buy 1,400 animals to be installed on a site to be furnished by the city and to make the projected Zoological Gardens one of the foremost institutions of its kind in the world. To this idea Mr. Goodyear devoted great energy and much time and money, even taking one hundred of Buffalo's prominent citizens to Cincinnati to see the Zoo in that city. When the matter was brought before the Legislature, so many amendments affecting and changing the original idea were attached to the bill that the project became impracticable, and thus Buffalo lost the opportunity to secure a really great Zoological Garden. To charitable institutions Mr. Goodyear contributed liberally and he was especially generous to the Buffalo General Hospital. Many Buffalo charities were remembered by large bequests in his will. He was a leader in all movements having in view the advancement of the City of Buffalo, was a leading member of the Chamber of Commerce and belonged to the Buffalo, Ellicott and Country Clubs.,
September 13, 1871, Mr. Goodyear married Josephine Looney, daughter of Robert and Josephine (Kidder) Looney of Buffalo. Their children are: Mrs. Grace Goodyear Depew, wife of Ganson Depew; Mrs. Florence Goodyear Wagner, wife of George O. Wagner, and Frank H. Goodyear, Jr., all of whom reside in Buffalo. Another daughter, Mrs. Josephine Goodyear Sicard, wife of George M. Sicard, died in Buffalo September 6, 1904.
There is a pathetic significance in the fact that when his life was drawing near its close, much of Mr. Goodyear's thought in a dual sense characteristic of the man, for it represented both his practical ability and the family devotion - the deep regard for the ties of kindred and domestic life - which was one of the strongest elements in his nature. Mr. Goodyear's last illness came upon him while he was absent on a journey to Yellowstone Park with his wife and son, in the fall of 1906. When the family returned they went to live for a time in their new home, later spending the winter at their residence at Jekyll Island. While there Mr. Goodyear's illness gave serious grounds for apprehension, and he returned to Buffalo to seek medical attention and the benefit of a cooler climate. Mr. Goodyear had long been suffering from overwork and all active duties were forbidden him, but the energy of his mind was unaffected by physical illness and he spent much of his time in laying plans for the extension of his enterprises and for the inauguration of new ones. To this end he remained the firm, well-poised, self-contained man of his prime, a source of strength and encouragement to those about him, an example of devotion to duty. When it became evident that his death was near, he met the common destiny of man with a resignation and courage worthy of one whom all his life his fellow-men had looked up to as a leader.
In Frank H. Goodyear the country lost one of the strongest and ablest of its executive men of affairs, Buffalo a highminded and loyal citizen, his friends a sincere, modest and genial personality, his family a kind and devoted husband and father. Beginning life as a poor boy, by ability and integrity Mr. Goodyear rose to the highest honors in the business world; the great enterprises he founded will live after him and perpetuate his name; but of more import than any material result, however brilliant, of his career, is the example he presented of a resolution undaunted by any obstacle, of an honor without spot or blemish.
SOURCE: Memorial and Family History of Erie County New York; Volume I