Alden Goldsmith, the proprietor of Walnut Grove Farm, was born December 4, 1820 in Blooming Grove, New York. He represented the fourth generation of his family to occupy Walnut Grove, which had been purchased by his great-grandfather under a patent from Queen Anne in 1735. The young Goldsmith had a natural affinity for livestock and spent much time with his father raising cattle, sheep and horses.
Goldsmith is best known for his development of the famous Hall of Fame Immortals Volunteer (Hambletonian 10 – Lady Patriot – Young Patriot) and Goldsmith Maid (Abdallah 15 – Old Ab – Abdallah 1). Goldsmith purchased Volunteer as an eight-year-old from R.C. Underhill of Brooklyn, New York, in 1862. He stood at Walnut Grove for twenty-six years, and was the first stallion to sire as many as five 2:20 trotters, including Immortal St. Julien 2:11¼, Gloster 2:17, Alley 2:19, Bodine 2:19¼ and Driver 2:19½. Although Goldsmith received offers to purchase his home-bred and trained horses, one even as high as $40,000 for Gloster, he preferred to keep and race them himself.
Largely due to his success with Volunteer, Goldsmith’s skills as a breeder became widely known. He passed these skills on to his sons, James and John A., which eventually brought John A. the honor of being inducted as a Hall of Fame Immortal in 1959. Both sons were regarded throughout the country as great reinsmen on the racing circuit.
In the spring of 1865 Goldsmith purchased his next great horse for $650 together with a second-hand buggy. Originally known as Nellie, the unbroken eight-year-old mare was renamed Goldsmith Maid. Goldsmith had her trained by William Bodine and brought to her first race in Goshen, New York on September 7, 1865. She won the race easily. Three years later Goldsmith sold her for $20,000 to a syndicate headed by driver and Hall of Fame Immortal Budd Doble. Goldsmith Maid went on to become a sensation on the track, winning 350 heats and 95 of 123 races. She netted her owners $364,200 and lowered the world trotting mile seven times before attaining her record of 2:14 in September of 1874.
Alden Goldsmith took an active role in the early administration of the sport, serving as a prominent figure within the Turf Congress and the National Association of Trotting Horse Breeders, and assisting with the organization of the National Trotting Association. Goldsmith was very active within the local agricultural community, serving as president of the Orange County (New York) Agricultural Society in 1859 and again from 1875 to 1877, and as a member of the finance committee for the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 1858 and again from 1862 to 1868. He was a delegate to several Republican state conventions, a candidate for Sheriff of Orange County. He was also a director of the Quassaick National Bank of Newburgh, New York, a member of the Presbyterian Church and a strict advocate of temperance.
In 1886 Goldsmith and Edwin Thorne of Thorndale Farm leased the Hudson River Driving Park in Poughkeepsie, New York, in an attempt to hold race meetings without betting. Although the track’s first meeting, held in June of that year, was enjoyed by its patrons, the endeavor failed financially.
Alden Goldsmith passed away at his home in Washingtonville on December 20, 1886 at the age of sixty-six, leaving a widow and three children. In his obituary, The New York Times referred to him as “one of the most prominent of the trotting horse breeders of this country.”