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C. Jay Goodnough

Born: July 15, 1867, Whitesville, Allegany County, NY.  Died: July 21, 1938, Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, OH.  Member of the House: Cameron County, 1915-1932.  Affiliation: Republican.

C. Jay Goodnough was educated in the common schools of Whitesville, New York.  He was an independent merchant until the age of 30.  From 1885-1907 he served as the prothonotary, register and recorder, and clerk of courts in Cameron County.  In 1897 Goodnough joined the mining department of the Emporium Mining Company.  He was appointed the secretary-treasurer of the Mining Company in 1912 and served in that position until 1918.   He then became president of the Emporium Iron Company in 1918 and continued until 1926.  In 1928 Goodnough became president of the Emporium Trust Company and retained that position until the time of his death.  Goodnough married the former Florence Olmsted on December 12, 1899, and in November of 1914 he was elected to represent Cameron County for the 1915-1916 session.  He served for 7 more successive terms.

Goodnough was a member of the legislature when national Prohibition took effect in January 1920.  He was the prime sponsor of what became Act 194 of 1921, which gave the State Forest Commission the ability to sell or exchange portions of state forest land.  This power was transferred in 1995 to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.  Goodnough was also the prime sponsor of Act 152, which was known as the Paint, Putty, and Naval Stores law of 1925.  The purpose of this law was to prevent people or companies from selling paint, putty, turpentine, or rosin that attempted to deceive buyers of their composition. 

Goodnough was appointed chairman of the Iron and Coal Committee from 1915-1918, chairman of the Forestry Committee from 1919-1920, and chairman of the Insurance Committee from 1921-1922.  On January 2, 1923, Goodnough was elected as the 112th Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for the 1923-1924 session.  From 1925-1926 he was the Majority Leader, and from 1927-1928 he served as chairman of the Manufactures Committee.  During the 1929-1930 session, he was the chairman of the Appropriations Committee.  On January 3, 1931, he was again elected as the Speaker of the House for the 1931-1932 session.

During his first tenure as Speaker, the 19th Amendment of the United States Constitution was ratified, on August 18, 1920, prohibiting any citizen to be denied the right to vote based solely on gender.  As a result, women were elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for the first time in history.  Eight women were elected in November 1922 and were sworn in the day Goodnough became Speaker.  On February 28, 1923, under Speaker Goodnough, Representative Alice M. Bentley was the first woman to preside as Speaker Pro Tempore.  Goodnough oversaw legislation, which became Act 131 of 1931, which created a “Greater Pennsylvania Council” to act as an advisory and planning body.  In his second term as Speaker, two state symbols were designated: the Hemlock was adopted as the State Tree, by Act 233 of 1931, and the Ruffed Grouse was adopted as the State Bird, by Act 234 of 1931.

In late 1931, Governor Pinchot appointed Goodnough to the Public Service Commission.  Goodnough became the chairman of the Commission in 1932, and continued to serve in that position until 1937, when Governor Earle abolished the Commission. 

C. Jay Goodnough died on July 21, 1938 in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio.  He is interred at Whitesville Rural Cemetery, Independence, Allegany County, New York.

Historical Member Biography

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