William Goodridge: Businessman, Abolitionist

Born into enslavement in 1805, William C. Goodridge was sent to York at age six to apprentice as a tanner. At age 16 he was given his freedom. Goodridge left York and was trained as a barber. He returned to York in the 1820s. After opening a barbershop on Centre Square, Goodridge rose to prominence as one of York's most successful businessmen. He expanded his store to include imported toys, candies, perfumes, hair remedies, and much more. He also became a property owner and developer, constructing York's first 4.5 story building and owning up to twenty properties at one time. Goodridge began the Reliance Line of railcars, eventually providing service between York and Philadelphia. In addition to his business ventures, he also became prominent on the Underground Railroad. His properties, including his house as well as Centre Hall on the Square, served as stations. Freedom seekers were hidden in the root cellar of this home, which was accessible via a hidden door in the kitchen floor. The Goodridge railcars were also used to transport freedom seekers to safety. Goodridge was a notable York resident until the mid-1860s, when he left to join family members in Minnesota and thereafter Michigan.