My Guthrie County (Iowa) Towns

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.

Guthrie Center

Grandma’s house

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.

Early 1949.
Cousins at Grandma Wilson’s at 515 N. Fourth Street, Guthrie Center–Gloria Neal, Leora Wilson, Joy Neal, Donna Wilson. About 1949.

Victorian house

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.)

Victorian house at 7th and Division Streets in Guthrie Center in the 1920s. It was torn down and burned 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).

Military Memorial

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.


Brothers (2)

Dale City

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.


Siblings Delbert Wilson, Darlene Scar, Doris Neal, and Donald Wilson, September 20, 1976. Taken at the home where their great grandparents, David and Emilia Jordan, began housekeeping in 1867 and raised a family. Laura Jordan, the oldest, was born in a log cabin here. Laura’s oldest, Leora Goff (mother of the Wilson siblings above) and husband Clabe Wison began housekeeping in 1914 in this house–the first house west of 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.

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Family and friends at the Wichita house. Clabe and Leora Wilson and two sons at left. Laura and Sherd Goff far right. Ruby Goff is next to Laura.


Grandfather Clabe Wilson worked in the brick and tile plant there.



While I stayed with the folks (while my husband was in Vietnam), Mom and I looked up family records and old newspaper clippings, and visited cemeteries. Mom’s grandmother, Georgia Wilson, lived at Panora long ago, but we were able to find her house.

Georgia Wilson’s Panora house.

This picture was taken in front of the house when Clabe and Leora were newlyweds, 1914.

Buggy (3)



Georgia (Williams) Wilson, Clabe Wilson’s mother, attended the Morrisburg Church and is buried in the nearby cemetery.


Adventist house

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.


Chittick house

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.

Stuart Depot

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.

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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.


From the 1897 Galbraith’s railway mail service map of Iowa. Library of Congress.


  1. I was so excited to discover your history of Monteith & the surrounding area here. Thank you! I per chance came across it when searching with my mother. We are from the Frank (Francis) Jordan line (David’s brother). Is there any chance that you might have any photos, or know who might, of his family also? I would love to see what their home looked like. I have a plat map that shows where their farm was, but I cannot tell if the home still exists. I loved your photo from 1897 of David Jordan & family with their home in the background. I see Uncle Pete (Maurice) in it & remember his wife Aunt Ada. My great grandmother was Frank’s daughter, Amelia who married Jim Coleman.

  2. I just stumbled on to your site while looking for photos of the Motz Opera house. My husband and I recently purchased the opera house and are currently repairing the place. Any pictures of the building inside and out being posted are greatly appreciated. We love to see what it looked like originally and want to try and bring some of the old look back.

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