The Goold House on Windham Center Road was the childhood home of Abba Goold Woolson. She is laid to rest in the family plot called “Happy Hill,” located on the property.

If you have visited the Village School at the Windham Historical Society’s Village Green, you know that the schoolmarm’s name is Miss Goold. When students come for a living history class in the schoolroom, they take on the personas of students from 1898, when their imaginary class would have taken place. Miss Goold, likewise, is taking on the identity of a Windham woman of the time who went on to gain national acclaim.


Abba Louisa Goold was born in Windham in her family’s homestead on Windham Center Road on April 30, 1838. The second of seven children born to William and Nabby Goold, she attended Portland schools and graduated in 1856 from the Girls High School as its Class Valedictorian. On Aug. 14 of that year, she married the school’s principal, Moses Woolson, who was 17 years her senior.

In 1862, Moses Woolson was named principal of Woodward High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the couple resided there for three years. After the Civil War, he was offered a position at the high school in his hometown of Concord, New Hampshire, and he and Abba returned to New England. They left Concord briefly when Moses was offered a position in Boston, but returned to Concord where they remained until 1887.

While in Cincinnati, Abba began teaching. She was named Professor of Belles Lettres at the Mount Auburn Young Ladies Institute. She later became principal of the high school in Haverhill, Massachusetts. In Concord, she assisted her husband as a teacher of Higher Mathematics and Latin. At that time, she also began lecturing before literary societies on such subjects as “English Literature in Connection with English History” and “The Historical Plays of Shakespeare.”

By 1870, her lectures and essays were being published, and in 1871, she was hired by the Boston Journal to travel to Utah to do an interview with Brigham Young, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Soon after, her first volume, “Women in American Society,” was published. This reflected her interest in women’s emancipation and began her career as an activist for women’s rights.

Haley Pal, a Windham resident and active member of the Windham Historical Society, can be contacted at

In 1873, she became the chair of the dress reform committee of the New England Women’s Club where she worked to sponsor a series of lectures by four important women physicians on the potentially harmful effects of constrictive undergarments as corsets. She also contributed a lecture of her own and had the series published into a book titled “Dress-Reform.” She wrote, “The requirements of health and the style of female attire which custom enjoins are in direct antagonism to each other.”

Woolson continued publishing works for decades to come. Topics ranged from smoking to popular forms of amusement. She also published books of her poetry and, in 1886 when Portland celebrated its centennial, she was chosen as the poet to write a piece commemorating the occasion.

She enjoyed traveling and spent time exploring in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England, Spain, Austria, Hungary, Southern Italy and Morocco. She also made trips to the Pacific Coast and Yosemite Valley. It was on her visit to Spain that she developed an interest in Queen Isabella, and this inspired her to help found the Castilian Club of Boston of which she served as president.

When her husband died in 1896, Abba returned to her childhood home in Windham where she had his body laid to rest in the family cemetery plot on the property known as “Happy Hill.” She lived in the family home until she died of arteriosclerosis in 1921 at age 82. She had no children, so in memory of her paternal grandfather, Abba Woolson provided an endowment to Bowdoin College, establishing the Nathan Goold Prize to be awarded annually to the senior who achieved the highest standing in Greek and Latin studies. Abba is buried on Happy Hill beside Moses.

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