Minnesota State Law Library
Louisa F. Williams was born on July 21, 1832 (or 1833) to parents Cyrus and Fidelia Williams. She grew up in Waterville, Maine, with at least 6 brothers and sisters, where her father owned an inn.
On September 29, 1856, she was married to James A. Goodwin, who also grew up in Waterville, but had since moved to Minnesota. He returned to marry Louisa and bring her to Minnesota. They eventually settled in Owatonna where James farmed. Their daughter Helen May was born on April 14, 1861.
On October 1, 1861, James joined Company E of the 4th Minnesota regiment and went to war. He was gravely injured in the battle of Iuka, Mississippi on September 19, 1862. He was shot in the leg and broke his femur. His leg was amputated, but he was discharged February 25, 1863, due to his injuries and he died April 18, 1863 in a hospital in St. Louis.
Louisa briefly moved home to Maine, but moved back to Minnesota in time to start her position as State Librarian.
Despite the fact that no woman had ever acted as a State Librarian anywhere in the country, Louisa came to the attention of members of the Minnesota legislature. They lobbied for her nomination and refused to approve George H. Oakes in the position. Governor Stephen Miller nominated her and the Senate approved. They paid her less than they had been paying previous male librarians, $400.
She spent 2 years working as the librarian. Her salary supported her and Helen, who was still living in Owatonna.
On Dec. 3, 1866, she married William S. Jones. Soon after, in March of 1867, she resigned from her position. They moved back to Owatonna to reunite with Helen.
In 1873, Helen moved to Illinois to live with a different guardian. By 1875, Louisa and Helen were living together in Owatonna and Louisa was going by Louisa Goodwin again. The two women later moved to California and worked as dressmakers.
Louisa spent the last 10 years of her life in the first nursing home for elderly poor in Los Angeles, the Hollenbeck Home. She died October 11, 1911, at age 78 (or 79) of multiple organ failure.