After four years’ service as chief executive of Racine, Hon. Walter S. Goodland retired from the mayoralty as he had entered the office-with the confidence and good will of the great majority of citizens, and upon the city’s history left the record of various substantial improvements which were made under his administration-improvements along the lines of both reform and progress. He has been active in the fields of both law and journalism and at the present writing is owner of the Times-Call of Racine, in which city he has made his home since March, 1899. He was born in Sharon, Walworth County. Wisconsin, December 22, 1862, and is descended from English ancestry. His paternal grandparents, William and Abigail (Harmon) Goodland, were both natives of England and during the greater part of his life the former followed mercantile pursuits in Somersetshire. There on the 10th of August, 1831, occurred the birth of Judge John Goodland, who was accorded liberal educational opportunities in his native country, where he remained until he reached the age of eighteen, when, desirous of learning something more of the world and enjoying the opportunities offered in America he crossed the Atlantic in 1849. Through the succeeding five years he was a resident of Oneida County. New York, and was connected with various business lines during that period. In 1854 he came to Wisconsin and through the succeeding decade was a teacher in the schools of Walworth County, during which period he also served as justice of the peace and held other local offices. In 1864 he removed to Chicago and accepted clerical position in the freight office of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad there continuing for two and one-half years. He afterward served for seven years as station agent for the same road at Appleton, Wisconsin. and in 1874 he embarked in the insurance business at Appleton, where he utilized his leisure time for the study of law, his reading being wisely directed by an able preceptor until he was admitted to the bar in 1878, In that year he became the partner of Lyman E. Barnes, afterward member of congress, and their practice was thus continued for a few years. In 1888 Judge Goodland was elected district attorney of Outagamie County and was reelected in 1890, making a most creditable record during his two terms’ service by reason of the many favorable verdicts which he won verdicts that were accorded in recognition of the strength of his case, based upon the points in evidence and the law applicable thereto. His ability in that office led to his election in the spring of 1891 to the office of judge of the tenth judicial district. Upon the death of George H. Myers he was appointed by Governor Peck to fill out the unexpired term up to the time when he would assume judicial duties by reason of his election. By successive re-elections he has remained as district judge to the present time and, according to a contemporary biographer has “shown great ability in facilitating the work of his court as well as in giving rulings marked by judicial discrimination in both civil and criminal causes as well as by broad and accurate knowledge of the science of jurisprudence and a high appreciation of the dignity and responsibility of his office.” This is not the only office to which Judge Goodland has been elected, for before becoming district attorney he was city assessor at Appleton for three years and in all matters relating to the material and civic welfare of his community he is deeply interested, his influence being ever on the side of improvement and progress. Such is the respect entertained for his opinions upon public questions that his example always secures to any cause a large following. He votes with the Democratic Party and his fraternal connection is with the Masons.
While residing in Oneida County, New York, Judge Goodland was married to Miss Caroline N. Clark, a native of that state, with whom he traveled life’s journey most happily for forty-three years, separation coming to them, however in the death of his wife in 1894. They were the parents of nine children, five of whom survive: Walter S.; John, a member of the city commission of Appleton; Abigail; Mary, the wife of J. H. Woehler, of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and Edith, the wife of F. D. Bartlett, of Milwaukee. Three sons, William, Edward and Fayette, are deceased, while a daughter, Emma, passed away in childhood.
The sixth child and third son of this family was Walter S. Goodland, who was but three years of age when the family went to Chicago. He afterward completed his education in the public schools of Appleton, where he was graduated from the high school, and later he spent a year in study in the Lawrence University at that place. The succeeding five years of his life were devoted to teaching and then under the direction of his father he took up the study of law, being admitted to the bar, before the State Bar Commission, on the 9th of March, 188G. He was interested in the profession and yet he found journalism even more congenial, so that soon after locating in Wakefield, Wisconsin, in March, 1887, he began the publication of the Wakefield Bulletin, which he owned and edited for about a year. In March, 1888, he became the founder of the Ironwood Times at Ironwood. Michigan, and remained as editor and owner of that paper until May, 1895, although he resumed the practice of law in the previous November. On the 30th of March, 1895, he was appointed by President Cleveland to the position of postmaster at Ironwood and served in that capacity for three years. Later he made his home for a brief period at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and then spent one year as publisher of the Daily News at Beloit. Since March, 1899, he has resided in Racine, where in partnership with V. W. Lothrop he purchased the Racine Daily Times, the firm owning the paper until 1902, when Mr. Goodland became sole proprietor. This paper has since taken over the Call, the two being combined under the name of the Times-Call. The paper is an interesting and attractive journal, well edited and well published.
In religious belief Mr. Goodland is an Episcopalian and the rules which further govern his conduct are found in such organizations as the Masonic fraternity and the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. His political endorsement is given to the Republican Party and in 1911 he entered upon the duties of Mayor of Racine, remaining as the chief executive of the city for four years. Many tangible evidences of his public spirit may be cited, showing that he has ever placed the general good before partisanship and the public welfare before personal aggrandizement. Men may differ from him but they do not question the integrity of his views and motives; they may oppose him but they respect him, and they know that when he gives a promise it is to be relied upon.