Daniel Goos
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Capt. Daniel Goos

An Early Lake Charles Sawmiller

As late as the Civil War, Lake Charles, Louisiana was still a small, frontier hamlet, even though by 1840, it had already become the seat of Imperial Calcasieu Parish. During the 1830s-1840s, families named Sallier, Ryan, Reid, Bilbo, Hodges, LeBleu, Pujo, Pithon and Clendening were already living in that vicinity. As early as 1836, Lake Charles was already a cattle stop along the “Opelousas Trail” to New Orleans, and by 1856, 50,000 heads of Texas cattle were swimming the Calcasieu River annually  while on the trek to the “Crescent City.”1

Capt. Daniel Goos (Courtesy Archives and Special Collections at Frazar Memorial Library, McNeese State University)

Capt. Daniel Goos (Courtesy Archives and Special Collections at Frazar Memorial Library, McNeese State University)

As late as May, 1866, a letter from Lake Charles described the town as containing 300 inhabitants, a “dilapidated” courthouse, 1 saloon, 2 schools, 6 stores, 2 hotels, 2 sawmills, and one Catholic church.2 Very quickly, other sawmillers recognized the great potential of the place, for south of town, millions of feet of prime cypress timber lined the swamps and banks of the rivers, bayous and lakes; and five billion or more feet of prime long leaf pine trees were growing north of town. The early Southwest Louisiana residents did not consider the pine lands as worth paying the taxes on, and huge tracts of such timber were available for purchase at prices from 25 cents to $1 an acre. One man who quickly recognized the value of Lake Charles as a wood-processing center was Captain Daniel Johannes Goos, who earlier had talked to crews, docked in New Orleans, who had carried lumber or cotton from the Jacob Ryan sawmill.2

In addition to the 2 antebellum mills, Capt. George Lock built a steam sawmill on Prion Lake in 1869, and H. C. Drew built one at Lake Charles in 1876. By 1884 the Calcasieu Lumber Company (formerly the Goos mill) was slicing timber at Goosport. By 1901 the Calcasieu’s successor, Bradley-Ramsey Lumber Company (later Long-Bell), the J. A. Bel mill, Drew, and the Lake City sawmill were producing 230,000 feet of lumber daily. By Sept., 1906, seven Lake Charles sawmills, exclusive of those at West Lake, were cutting 465,000 feet daily. (Lock and Bel soon became sons-in-law of Capt. Goos.)3

Capt. Daniel Goos was born on March 23, 1815 in Wyk, on the Island of Fohr, Denmark (a channel island offshore from the province of Schleswig-Holstein), the son of Peter Andreas Goos and Anna Maria Luetjens. His father was a silver and goldsmith. As a result of the Prusso-Danish War of 1864, the island of Fohr was returned to Prussia as part of the present day German provinces of Schleswig and Holstein.

Goos migrated to Philadelphia in 1835; later he drifted on to New Orleans, where he soon became connected with the lumber trade. There he also met 16-year-old Katarina Barbara Moeling, who was born on Nov. 28, 1827 in Neustadt, Prussia (now Germany), who had just emigrated to New Orleans with her siblings and her parents, Elias Moeling and Anna Maria Garij (or Nammsen) Moeling.4

In company with his young bride, Goos soon moved to Biloxi, Mississippi, where for some years he furnished boiler firewood to boats traveling between Biloxi and the Mississippi River. Later he migrated again to Ocean Springs, MS., where he engaged in the mercantile, shipping, and sawmilling businesses. He either built or bought his first schooner, the Lehmann, upon which he shipped the bulk of his worldly goods, furniture and sawmill, in 1855, and moved to Goosport, then located a mile and a half north of the village of Lake Charles.5

While living in New Orleans in 1846, Capt. Goos helped organize Germania Lodge No. 46, A. F. and A. M., on April 18, 1846. Upon reaching Lake Charles in 1855, Goos became an organizer, past master, and life member of Lake Charles Lodge No. 165, A. F. and A. M.  Eventually he was buried in Goos Cemetery with full Masonic services and honors.

Lumber schooner being loaded at Goos' sawmill, Ca. 1880 (Courtesy Archives and Special Collections at Frazar Memorial Library, McNeese State University)
Lumber schooner being loaded at Goos' sawmill, Ca. 1880 (Courtesy Archives and Special Collections at Frazar Memorial Library, McNeese State University)

The writer believes that Capt. Goos arrived at Goosport with three sash or muly, steam-driven saws (which cut in an up-down motion), capable of cutting as much as 10,000 feet daily. That is based on a description of other Mississippi sawmillers’ equipment, who also arrived on Sabine River in 1853.6 Goos’ son-in-law, Capt. George Lock (who married Ellen Martha Goos), founded the first sawmill at Prion Lake in 1869, and soon afterward, Goos and Lock were shipping 4 million feet of lumber annually to Galveston.

The first mention of Capt. Goos in an area newspaper appeared in Galveston Tri-Weekly News, which follows: “...Capt Goos built at Lake Charles recently a staunch steamboat at a cost of $10,000 to overcome the difficulties of navigation in Calcasieu Lake and River...” With the banks of the river and lake lined with huge cypress trees, which hindered prevailing winds, the steamer Dan was intended primarily as a tow boat for the lumber schooners. According to C. E. Henry of Cameron, there were 25 lumber schooners in the Lake Charles-Galveston trade by 1870, which increased to 50 by 1880.7

With no inland rail system to connect Lake Charles with the nearest lumber market, Capt. Goos realized that he would have to build his own fleet of lumber schooners to carry his products to market. His son, Fred M. Goos, was one of his schooner captains. As a result, the new schooner Lehmann, followed by the Schooners Lake Charles, Winnebago, Cassie, and Emma Thornton, were soon built and added to Goos’ fleet. Reputedly, Goos imported about ten shipbuilders from his home island of Fohr, of whom his future son-in-law, Conrad Funk, was both a shipbuilder and schooner captain.8

Goos' Home in Goosport (Courtesy Archives and Special Collections at Frazar Memorial Library, McNeese State University)
Goos' Home in Goosport (Courtesy Archives and Special Collections at Frazar Memorial Library, McNeese State University)

Goos’ steamer Dan was built of choice white oak and cypress timbers, with a V-bottom deep-sea hull. The steamer was a 112-ton side-wheeler, 99 feet long and 23 feet wide, with a capacity of 600 bales of cotton. Early in 1860, for reason probably involving a bankruptcy sale, Goos acquired a half-interest in a cottonseed oil press at Galveston, and as a result, he sent the Dan to Brazos River in Texas to haul cottonseed to Galveston from as far north as Groce’s Ferry on the Brazos, west of Houston. When the Civil War broke out in April, 1861, Goos brought the steamer back to Lake Charles, from whence it is believed the Dan ran the blockade with cotton once or twice to Matamoras, Mexico. The Lehmann is also known to have run the blockade four times, and returned safely each time, carrying cotton cargoes worth $30,000 or more in gold, and returning with gunpowder, munitions, lead, coffee, rope, cotton and woolen cloth, muskets, and medical supplies. Ellen (Mrs. George) Lock recalled that drugs such as chloroform, calomel, morphine, ether, and quinine, were often hid in barrels of flour or coffee.9 Many of Goos’ imports through the blockade were sent to General Richard Taylor’s army, which later was fighting along the Bayou Teche and Red River. The Calcasieu River was not blockaded until after May 8, 1864.

In Sept., 1862, U. S. Navy Lt. Frederick Crocker of the blockader Kensington took 14 Navy Bluejackets and a 6-pound cannon aboard a small sloop, and sailed up the Calcasieu to Houston River, where Goos had hidden the steamer Dan. After its capture by Crocker and with Confederate soldiers and pilots tied at exposed positions around the wheelhouse, Crocker steamed the Dan back downriver without a single shot being fired at the vessel. During his 96-hour escapade in the river, Crocker burned the blockade-runner Mary Ann at Goosport and the schooners Conchita and Eliza at Cameron.10

Crocker brought the steamer Dan back to Sabine Lake, where he armed the vessel with a 30-pound rifled cannon. For the next 3 months, the little Union gunboat harassed Sabine Pass and vicinity at every opportunity. On the night of January 8, 1863, First Sgt. H. N. Connor and 9 cavalrymen from Co. A rowed their whaleboat out to the Dan, which was docked at Sabine lighthouse, during a dense fog. And then they threw 40 pine knot torches aboard the Dan as fast as they could blaze them, until the gunboat caught fire and burned to the waterline.11

The following clipping, quoted verbatim, was written by Barbara “Babette” Fitzenreiter, and was sent to the writer by Goos’ great granddaughter, Mrs. Miltner of Lake Charles, as follows:

“...During the war (1863) my father, Captain Goos, operated a hospital for wounded Confederate soldiers in our house in Goosport. He was also engaged in the highly-profitable business of blockade-running, buying cotton around here, and taking it down to Matamoras, Mexico aboard the old schooner Lehmann. He received $30,000 in gold for each cargo of cotton, and the schooner ran the blockade four times...”

“...One day a young man about 25 or 30 years of age, very handsome and debonair, and attired in the uniform of a Confederate officer, came to our home. He had brought about 30 men with him. Father told him to come in, provided quarters for his men, and he brought the officer into the house. We entertained the officer at dinner...I played the piano, and we had an enjoyable evening...”

“...In the morning after breakfast, the young officer gathered together all his men. Before they rode away, the young officer turned around and said, “Do you know who I am?” he asked. “I am Carriere, the Jayhawker!” We were all startled and retreated back in great alarm; we had all heard such terrible things about Carriere and his band. “...Last night I came here to rob you, Capt. Goos. You have $30,000 in gold in a chest under your bed, and I would have burned your house and even killed you to get it. I might even have burned your sawmill. But you have entertained us so royally that we decided not to take any of your money...”

“...With that he and his men rode away. That night Mother and Father got a spade, and they took the chest of money out somewhere and buried it. Three days later a man from Texas was on his way to Opelousas...He was driving a fine horse, hitched to a new buggy. The man fell in with Carriere and his Jayhawkers, and he was never heard from again...”12

Following the Battle of Calcasieu Pass on May 8, 1864, Sgt. H. N. Connor went aboard the captured gunboat Wave, and was sickened by the amputation of legs and arms, the screams and the stench of death. Following emergency repairs, he and his cavalrymen steamed the gunboat up to Calcasieu Lake, kedged it across the Calcasieu River bar, and arrived at Lake Charles with still about 15 wounded men, both Confederate and Union, still aboard under the general supervision of Union assistant surgeon E. C. Vermeulen.13 Lake Charles residents welcomed the Confederate wounded after their arrival, but they were very angry that Dr. Vermeulen and his wounded sailors were still aboard. They refused to find a place for the Confederate prisoners to stay.14

However, when Capt. Goos heard of their plight, he ordered that all of them be brought to his residence. “Mother Katarina” Goos, with a heart as big as her head, and her daughters prepared a large room or gallery for the wounded, whitewashed, scoured, and sterilized it as best they could, and all the wounded, regardless of whether “Yank” or Rebel, were placed on cots, side by side, with clean bed clothing. And a month later, after all of them had recovered, the Confederates were returned to Sabine Pass, and Dr. Vermeulen and the captured sailors were sent to a Confederate prison camp in Texas.15

The Goos family came to respect Dr. Vermeulen a great deal, and if such were possible, they would have kept him as a house guest until the war was over. On one occasion, Vermeulen appeared at the dinner table with his uniform jacket buttoned up to his chin. The weather was warm and he was invited to unbutton his coat. The physician then confessed that he had only one dirty shirt and it was in with the Goos laundry, waiting to be washed. As a result Capt. Goos was able to locate some shirts and other clothing so that he would have a clean change of clothes.16

During the Civil War, there was no longer any demand for lumber, so Capt. Goos connected his steam engine to a grist mill. For the next four years, he used his mill principally to grind corn meal for his family and employees, the crews of his blockade-runners, friends and neighbors, and of course, for all the Confederate troops stationed in the Lake Charles vicinity.17

Late in 1865, Capt. Goos returned to his antebellum trade of sawing and shipping lumber to Galveston. He soon contracted his logging with A. J. Perkins, who cut mostly cypress logs for the Goos mill, although there were occasions when long leaf pine or white oak lumber were needed. As new sawmilling equipment was invented, Goos tore out his old upright saws, and replaced them with circular saws. By 1878 he had probably replaced them with an Allis double circular mill, manufactured in Milwaukee. Other equipment that he would of necessity have added included edger and trimmer saws, a cutoff and gang saw, steam log turners and kickers, a planing machine, and a steam “shotgun feed” to activate the log carriage, in preference to the his friction-feed method. During the early 1880s, as he accumulated wealth and old age approached, he sold out to Calcasieu Lumber Company. That firm eventually sold out to Bradley-Ramsey Lumber Company, which later sold out to Long-Bell.18

Also in 1869, Capt. Goos returned to his home island of Fohr, where he solicited 60 young men and women to emigrate to Goosport to work in his sawmill and shipyard. As a result and principally for their benefit, he founded St. John’s Lutheran Church, although his wife Katherine was Catholic. It might be worthwhile to note that it was St. John’s Lutheran Church that was instrumental in extending the Lutheran religion into Beaumont and Port Arthur.19

Between 1846 and 1869, Daniel and Katherine Goos became the parents of 15 children, 5 sons and 10 daughters, the earliest of whom were either born in New Orleans or Mississippi.  The five sons were as follows: Daniel J. Goos, Jr. (1847-1921), mar. Florence Flanders; Christian H. Goos (1859-1878); Frederick Moeling Goos (1862-1936), of Co. C, 2nd Alabama Infantry, Spanish-American War; Walter Stewart Goos (1865-1943), mar. Annie Green; and Albert E. Goos (1866-1935), mar. Laura Rebecca Reeves.

The ten Goos daughters are also as follows: Barbara “Babette” Goos (1847-1921), mar. Charles Fitzenreiter; Elmira M. “Ellen” Goos (1849-1921), mar. Capt. George Lock; Rosalie Alexandria Goos (1850-1889), mar. Henry O. Wachsen; Medora Goos (1852-1893), mar. 1. Conrad Funk, 2. Emil Jessen; Emma M. Goos (1853-1926), mar. Edward W. Richards; Fredericka Goos (1855-1895), mar. Reese W. Perkins; Georgiana Ruth Goos (1857-1886), mar. Earnest F. Timmins; Katherine Goos (1860-1930), mar. W. W. Flanders; Della Moeling Goos (1862-1934), mar. John A. Bel; and Anna Marie Goos (1868-1918), mar. James Lockwood Williams.20

Some of the Goos sons-in-law also followed in the wood-processing vocations. Capt. George Lock founded the third sawmill in Calcasieu Parish at Prion Lake, which eventually became the Lock-Moore Lumber Company. J. A. Bel also operated one of the major sawmills at Lake Charles, cutting 90,000 feet daily for about 25 years.21 J. Lockwood Williams operated the Williams Planing Mill at Beaumont, Tx. throughout the 1880s.22 Charles Fitzenreiter operated a sawmill at Tryon, Hardin County, Texas from 1886 until 1890, after which he moved his family back to Lake Charles.23 Frederick Moeling Goos was a longtime lumber schooner captain, after which he worked for the J. A. Bel Lumber Company.24

Lumber for the first Daniel Goos home in 1855 was cut by his own sash saws and was of upright, clapboard construction. As time permitted, Goos began construction of his 3-story home, described as “constructed of cypress and hardwood, which he cut in his own mill...The house had a large central hall down- stairs with rooms on each side. On the second story, the hall ran perpendicular to the downstairs hall, and five bedrooms opened off the sides of the hall. On the third floor was the ballroom, where brilliant social events took place...”25

After 38 years of marriage, and the nurturing, rearing and child-bearing of 15 children, Katherine (Katarina Moeling) Goos died on Feb. 11, 1884, and no obituary of her has been found by the writer. It is also unknown to this writer if Daniel Goos owned any slaves prior to 1865, but if so, he would certainly have supplied domestic help for his wife in the care of her babies, the cooking, and housekeeping; and also hired domestic help  after the large, 3-story house was finished. Actually, for the mid-nineteenth century, Katherine Goos’ death at age 56 might be considered somewhat phenomenal, for a mother who had born and reared 15 children.

After Daniel Goos’ retirement in the middle 1880s, he enjoyed gardening and planting trees and flowering plants in his garden. Once when he planted a pecan tree, a visitor suggested that he could plant the tree, but that he would never live long enough to reap any of the pecans.  “My boy!” Goos replied. “I knew of a house over in Germany that was built by a man over 80 years old. Over the door were imprinted these words: “This house is not built for you and me, but for those who will come after us...”26

Around 1910, when many of Goos’ daughters were already aging themselves, they told many tales about life with their father. “Babette” Fitzenreiter told the tale about Goos when he was “...seven years old on the Island of Fohr. He worked all day for a neighbor, tending cows, and at the end of each week, he was paid with only a few coins; and once the neighbor gave him a large cheese, which weighed about 20 pounds, and which the lad had to carry home. When he was asked during his old age what was the happiest day of his life, Capt. Goos responded, “That day when I lay before my mother that heavy cheese, and for the first time, I saw her smile at me...”

Once after his wife died, and a daughter asked him if he were lonely, Goos replied: “...I am not lonely. I sit by the fire with my pipe and a book, and as the wind blows through the nearby trees, I can hear once more my children’s romping feet and laughing voices...”27

Crypt of Daniel and Katherine Goos in Goos' Cemetery in Lake Charles (Courtesy Archives and Special Collections at Frazar Memorial Library, McNeese State University)
Crypt of Daniel and Katherine Goos in Goos' Cemetery in Lake Charles (Courtesy Archives and Special Collections at Frazar Memorial Library, McNeese State University)

After a long life of considerable toil and tremendous productivity, always engaged in scratching a civilization out of an unforgiving jungle and frontier, Daniel Johannes Goos died at Goosport at age 84 on May 20, 1898. Despite the fact that Jacob Ryan had operated the first small sawmill at Lake Charles, the writer still labels Capt. Goos as the “father of Southwest Louisiana sawmilling. Between 1855 and 1898, Goos saw Lake Charles’ daily production of lumber increase from about 2,000 feet to over 200,000 feet. During the Civil War, his schooners ran the blockade many times, bringing in munitions and other necessities of life; and although his steamer Dan was captured by the “Yankees” in Houston River, he lost no blockade-runners captured at sea. His wartime fleet enabled him to assemble a large accumulation of gold coins, which he needed to finance his sawmill operations, its frequent enlargement and modernization, and to raise and educate his large family.

Surely no other person in Lake Charles was more highly-esteemed than was Daniel Goos, as was witnessed by the large multitude, which followed his corpse to the tomb. His “word was his bond,” and his business associates considered him to have been thoroughly honest throughout his lifetime; also his handshake was equal to a written contract. He was temperate in everything, especially alcohol, as well as anything else that detracted from a man’s life. He was generous to a fault to those in need, to his church, and to any cause for the general uplift of Lake Charles. He was especially devoted to his family and friends, his church, and the Masonic order. He had to endure the early death of many of his children. And despite some financial reverses, such as at times, the low remuneration and demand for lumber, he still left an estate of considerable value.

Goos arrived in Lake Charles when it was a hamlet of a few log cabins, and even some Indians. At his death, he left Lake Charles as a city of elaborate homes, stores, churches, and schools. He had literally chopped up the frontier with his axes and saw blades, and left in its place, a domain of culture and civilization. And Lake Charles was far the better place because the immigrant from the Isle of Fohr sailed up the Calcasieu and spread his roots into the river bank.

End Notes

1 Galveston Weekly News, Nov. 25, 1856; also articles in Feb., Mar., June, 1857.

2 Ibid. May 19, 1866.

3 “List of Sawmills on the K. C. S. Railroad and Southern Pacific Railroad,” Beaumont, TX. Journal, Oct. 3; Nov. 5, 1904; “Lumber Mills of Louisiana-Texas,” Southern Industrial and Lumber Review, Sept. 15, 1906, p. 29; “Sawmills at Lake Charles,” Beaumont Enterprise, Jan. 15; May 28, 1905.        

4 “Daniel Goos - Pioneer Sawmiller,” Lake Charles American-Press, Feb. 16, 1917, p. 4; “Daniel Goos, Father of Southwest Louisiana Sawmilling,” p. 1; information which appears on the gravestones, etc. in Goos Cemetery website <http://www.gooscemetery.com/personnel/katarina moeling>; information furnished to this writer by Mrs. J. T. Miltner of Lake Charles, a great granddaughter of Capt. Goos; Carolyn Moffett, “Early Settler Built For The Future,” Lake Charles American-Press, June 26, 1978.

5 Lake Charles American-Press, Feb. 16, 1917, p. 4.

6 See FN5; also W. T. Block, “An Early East Texas Sawmiller: David R. Wingate,” Texas Gulf Historical and Biographical Record, XIII (Nov. 1977), 59-79.

7 Galveston Tri-Weekly News, Dec. 15, 1857; see also W. T. Block, “The Honorable Samuel P. Henry: Father of Cameron Parish,” Kinfolks, Vol. 28, No. 4, p. 193; see also W. T. Block, “Early River Boats of Southwest Louisiana,” published in Cameron, La. Pilot.

8 W. T. Block, “Samuel P. Henry: Father of Cameron Parish,” on the writer’s website. Goos’ grandson, Albert Goos Funk, married the writer’s second cousin, Marie Ella Bonsall, of Grand Chenier.

9 Block, “Daniel Goos: Father of Southwest Louisiana Sawmilling,” pp. 1-2.

10 War of the Rebellion, Official Records, Navies, Series I, Vol. XIX, pp. 217-231.

11 “Diary of First Sgt. H. N. Connor,” a copy appears on my website; “Sinking of the U. S. Gunboat Dan,” Beaumont Enterprise, Feb. 14, 1984, p. 1cc.

12 Newspaper clipping by Barbara Fitzenreiter, undated but printed by Lake Charles American, Ca. 1910, and given to me by Mrs. Miltner of Lake Charles; also see W. T. Block, “Some Notes on the Civil War Jayhawkers of Confederate Louisiana,” which appears on the writer’s website.

13 “Diary of 1st Sgt. H. N. Connor,” and displayed on the writer’s website.

14 Lake Charles American-Press, Feb. 16, 1917, p. 4.

15 See footnote 14; also article by Barbara Fitzenreiter; also “Diary of Sgt. H. N. Connor; also “Daniel Goos: Father of Southwest Louisiana Sawmilling.”

16 Lake Charles American Press, Feb. 16, 1917, p. 4.

17 Moffett, Lake Charles American Press, June 26, 1978.

18 W. T. Block, “Daniel Goos: Father of Southwest Louisiana Sawmilling,” p. 2.

19 Gossett, “Early Settler Built For the Future,” Lake Charles American Press, June 26, 1978; see also W. T. Block, “The History and Progress of The Lutheran Churches into The Golden Triangle of Texas, 1897-1988,” on the author’s website.

20 Taken from Lake Charles American Press, Feb. 16, 1917, p. 4; also information from the tombstones in the Goos Cemetery; also from other biographical data found on the internet.

21 “Sawmills at Lake Charles,” Beaumont Enterprise, Jan. 15; May 18, 1905. 

22 W. T. Block, East Texas Mill Towns and Ghost Towns (3 volumes: Lufkin, 1995), Vol. I.

23 Ibid. Vol. II, pp. 31-32.

24 Obituary, Lake Charles American Press, Nov. 16, 1936.

25 Moffett, “Early Settler Built for the Future,” Lake Charles American Press, June 26, 1978.

26 Ibid.

27 Lake Charles American Press, Feb. 16, 1917, p. 4.

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