John Goodman has been a difficult Mayflower passenger to research. Governor William Bradford, in his otherwise nearly flawless recitation of Mayflower passengers made in 1651, states that John Goodman was one of those who "died soon after their arrival in the general sickness that befell." However, that is contradicted by his appearance on the 1623 Division of Land, where he received an acre of land. In any case, Goodman had disappeared by the time of the 1627 Division of Cattle, and presumably died very early on.
In 1905, Henry Martyn Dexter proposed that John Goodman was the man found in Leiden records as John "Codmoer," widower of Mary Backus, who married Sarah Hooper. But this has been disputed by many later researchers as unfounded: "Codmoer" is a pretty significant misspelling of "Goodman" even by Dutch standards. To further complicate the situation, there is an oft-published hoax that surfaced in the 19th century that John Goodman was actually a pseudonym for John Dunham, another member of the Leiden congregation. However, this has been conclusively disproven: John Dunham was still living in Leiden after the Mayflower's departure.
On 12 January 1621, Peter Browne and John Goodman were cutting thatch for house roofing, and went for a short walk to refresh themselves, when their mastiff and spaniel spied a deer and gave chace. Peter and John soon found themselves lost. They spent the night in a tree, in rain and snow, because they thought they heard a lion. They found their way back to Plymouth the following day. Goodman suffered some frostbite. When he was finally able to walk, he took his spaniel out and found himself being followed by a wolf. After a long stare-down and having securing a fence post for defense, the wolf eventually departed.