Both of my parents were born in Guthrie County–Dad (Warren Neal) just west of Dexter, and Mom (Doris Wilson) in Baker Township. Mom’s mother and grandmother were also born in Guthrie County.
Although the address and school zone was Redfield, so while we lived at the “Shaw place,” we were just over the county line into Guthrie County.
For four decades, Grandma Leora Wilson’s house at 505 N. 4th Street made Guthrie Center our magnet town. Her own mother (Laura Goff) also made her home there for over a dozen years, having spent many years in Guthrie County. Those two ladies were active in the Christian Church and Rebekahs, and taught my sister and me to play Canasta, but hid the cards when a certain neighbor stopped by.
I didn’t know about this house until I was older, but after their three sons returned from the World War, my great grandparents, Sherd and Laura Goff, bought their dream home in Guthrie Center–a furnished Victorian home. Two younger sons graduated from Guthrie Center High School. Their middle daughter died at age 28. Her funeral was held in that house. (I still have an old library table from that home, which was condemned and torn down in 2018.)
Guthrie Center Cemetery
Sherd and Laura Goff are buried there, as well as their daughter Georgia and daughter-in-law Tessie. Adult sons Wayne, Perry, and Rolla Goff are, as well. The youngest children of Clabe and Leora (Goff) Wilson are buried at the Guthrie Cemetery–baby twins Jack and Jean (whooping cough) and Marilyn (weak heart).
There will be commemorative bricks in the Guthrie County Military Memorial to commemorate the WWI service of Merl, Wayne, and Jennings Goff. Also the WWII service of Jennings Goff’s son, Merrill. And the five Wilson brothers: Delbert, Donald, Dale, Daniel, and Junior–who were all born in Guthrie County except Junior.
Grandfather Clabe Wilson was born and grew up around Dale City. His mother, Georgia Ann (Williams) Wilson, was also born at Dale City.
Frog Pond School
Clabe Wilson attended Frog Pond country school. He went to school there with Wesley Clampitt, who became superintendent of Dexter, and later, Johnston schools.
Clabe Wilson and Leora Goff met at Monteith, and later lived just west of town, where Leora’s mother had been born in the log cabin. Leora’s pioneer ancestors are buried in the Monteith cemetery. It’s part of our “scenic route” to Guthrie Center to enjoy a holiday dinner at the Cabbage Rose restaurant, always wondering exactly where Liza Jane came through “Windy Gap” at Monteith.
Sherd and Laura Goff lived at Wichita. He raised so much popcorn there that Sherd Goff was called “Popcorn King of Guthrie County.” Their daughter Leora married Clabe Wilson in their home.
Grandfather Clabe Wilson worked in the brick and tile plant there.
Clabe Wilson’s mother, Georgia (Williams) Wilson, attended the Morrisburg Church and is buried in the nearby cemetery.
After losing farmland during a slump in farm prices after WWI, Clabe and Leora moved to Stuart with three children. Both parents and one of the children came down with that virulent influenza at this place.
Three more Wilson children were born here–twins Dale and Darlene, and Danny. After Mr. Myers, the nightwatchman was shot during a bank robbery attempt and died of his wounds, Clabe Wilson became Stuart’s next nightwatchman.
Bricks at the Stuart Depot commemorate Clabe Wilson being a nightwatchman there, Doris Wilson riding the Liza Jane train, and the Stuart births of twins Dale and Darlene Wilson, and Danny Wilson.
Grandma Leora Wilson used to enjoy taking rides in a car. She was delighted that Highway 25 became a paved road. She’d show us about where Prairie College country school was, with only those old lilies in the ditches nowadays, and her son Donald was born.
Grandma Wilson left a hand-written memoir. Mom and I spent several pleasant days trying to locate where these stories occurred, including hunting for the railroad grade of the Liza Jane train between Stuart, Menlo, and Guthrie Center.
Guthrie County has been a beautiful and special place for me for many decades.