Doris Wilson, first daughter, born 100 years ago

Doris Laurayne was born on a Friday, August 30, 1918. “Were we proud of her!” her mother Leora wrote. “We had her named months before as I had seemed to believe it was a girl–just had that feeling. Dr. Thomas says, ‘How did you know?’ I just did.”

Clabe and Leora had moved to a farm in Baker Township, Guthrie County, Iowa, where a couple of Leora’s brothers had planted their crops, then been drafted for the Great War. Three Goff brothers had been sent to France.

When Doris was born, her Grandmother Goff was also there to help, as she was each time her daughter gave birth. Leora already had two small sons, and would have seven more children (including two sets of twins).

Leora said she seemed to always have a batch of bread “set” on the evening before her babies were born, to bake the next day. So her mother baked the bread. When little Delbert and Donald came in from playing, they could smell the fresh bread aroma. Of course, they each wanted a roll. Then they wanted more.

Grandmother said, “Oh, you’ll eat up all and your Daddy won’t have any.”

Donald, age two, said, “Oh, he can eat con-bread,” meaning cornbread. Food was rationed during the war, and flour was stretched by adding other grains. Bread made from it didn’t keep long–it soured quickly and was sticky. Cornbread was encouraged instead.

The day after their baby sister was born, Delbert and Donald asked their grandmother if they could take the baby for a ride in their wagon. “Let’s ask your mother,” she suggested. They all went into the bedroom, where the little boys bumped up against the bed as they asked their question. Leora said that little Doris would need to get bigger first, so they went back outside to play.

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Donald, Clabe holding Doris, Delbert–on back porch at Leora’s brother’s “Bear Creek” farm SW of Guthrie Center, Iowa. 1918.

When Doris was a few weeks old, the popcorn was ready to harvest. Leora’s sister Ruby, ten years younger than Leora, came to help feed the six extra men, including a couple of their brothers. They added two beds to the front room so they could “board and sleep” the extras. It was such a busy time, cooking and nursing the baby, and they just couldn’t keep the flies out. Leora had to keep netting over the baby’s “cab.”

Leora was the oldest in her family and the only one married. During those months she started writing her first letters to boys in military service. Her brother Wayne was especially taken with the news of the birth of his first niece. He sent money home and asked his younger sisters to buy a gift for the baby. Georgia and Ruby Goff chose a locket for baby Doris, large enough for her to enjoy wearing as an adult. They had it engraved “Wayne to Doris.”

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Donald, Delbert, and Doris–1919
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Oldest daughter, oldest niece–probably holding the locket.

My mother Doris and her mother both lived 97 years.



  1. I loved the story and the pictures are beautiful. You are getting better with each one you write. I am glad there is someone in the family who can tell the stories like you are doing.

    • I’m thankful to have something I can do here at home that’s fun. Great Grandmother Laura Goff was born 150 years ago September 28, so have one ready for that day too! Also: Influenza the 21st–Clabe and Leora both came down with it.

    • I’ll watch for your entry about your mother next year! The 150th anniversary of my great grandmother’s birth is Sept. 28, so I have a blog ready to post that day. How I wish I’d asked her questions! I was a freshman in college when she died.

  2. […] When baby Doris Wilson was born that August, Wayne Goff was especially taken with the news of the birth of his first niece. He sent money home from France, asking his younger sisters to buy a gift for the baby. Georgia and […]

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