Laura Arminta (Jordan) Goff (1868-1962)

The War Between the States had ended just three years earlier when Laura was born September 28, 1868–150 years ago–in a log cabin just west of the town of Monteith, Guthrie County, Iowa.


The next three children are buried at Monteith, where they didn’t live past age 5.

Ephraim Riley Jordan died in 1873, almost 2 year old. Rose Emma Jane Jordan died in April 1875 of “brain fever–almost a year old. Phoebe Caroline “Cally” died the next month, age 5.

lat 6 and 13
Laura Jordan at ages 6 and 13.

Both parents had come to Iowa from eastern states. Her mother Emilia Ann (Moore) Jordan, as a nine-year-old, rumbled across the prairie in 1855 with her family (Ephraim W. and Lucy Jane Moore and five other children), in two wagons from Parke County, Indiana. She later met and married David Jordan, who’d arrived in Iowa from Noble County, Ohio, as a young man with his father in 1865.

Jordans (1)
David and Emilia Jordan Family, late 1889 or early 1890. L-R: Floyd Roy (b. 1880), Emilia Ann (Moore) Jordan (1846), Frederick David (1889), Floy Temperance (1876), Lottie Belle (1878), Collis Moore (1883), Laura Arminta (1868), Cora Nell (1886), David Jordan (1842).

Laura taught country school before marrying Sherd (Milton Sheridan) Goff–whose parents paid a fee so he wouldn’t have to serve in the Civil War. Laura sold her teacher’s watch to her father for a cow when she was required to quit teaching to marry.

Sherd and Laura moved over a dozen times, giving birth to eleven children, from Guthrie County to NE Nebraska (where Santee Sioux were neighbors), Guthrie County again, then NW Minnesota, and back to Guthrie County. Sherd “went bust” in Nebraska, and maybe more times than that.

Goffs finally settled for five years in Audubon County, where they made enough raising popcorn to buy a farm at Wichita, Iowa.

July 4, 1907, Audubon, Iowa. The only family portrait of all of the M.S. Goff family. Back: Jennings (11), Georgia (13), Merl (15), Leora (16), Wayne (14), Rolla (almost 9). Front: Ruby (almost 7), Milton Sheridan “Sherd,” Perry (almost 4), Clarence (almost 2), Laura (pregnant with Virgil), Willis (5).

About the time their oldest sons were drafted for the World War, they moved to a furnished Victorian house in Guthrie Center. Laura went to a meeting there in 1920 to learn how to vote. They were a musical family, and Laura took singing lessons. (My mother remembered her lovely alto voice.) Their daughter Georgia, age 28, died while they lived there. Goffs eventually moved to Dexter to be near their oldest daughter, Leora (Goff) Wilson, and her growing family. Laura was widowed there when Sherd died in 1930.

The Dexter house went into bankruptcy. Laura moved to Omaha to live with her son C. Z. (Clarence Zenas) who had a heating and cooling business. After her oldest daughter was widowed in 1946, they decided to move back to their Guthrie County roots.

1948 (3)
Laura Arminta (Jordan) Goff, taken by her grandson, photographer Merrill J. Goff, in Omaha, 1948.

Great Grandmother Goff was 76 years old when I was born. On the back of the picture taken of the four generations, it was noted that we were all the oldest daughters in our families.

baby (1)
Baby Joy, Doris (Wilson) Neal, Leora (Goff) Wilson, Laura (Jordan) Goff. Near Minburn, Iowa, July 4, 1944.

I remember visiting Grandma Leora Wilson and her mother, Laura Goff, at their little home on North 4th Street in Guthrie Center, playing Canasta and Samba with them, going downtown for a “sodie,” as Great Grandmother called them. The two of them did take a plane ride to southern California to visit Laura’s daughter Ruby and two of her sons, Wayne and Willis.


I was a freshman in college when Great Grandmother died. I wish I’d been wiser then and asked about her growing up years. About all the moves she made. About her rich and fascinating past!


  1. We all realise too late what a wealth of information has remained untapped because we were too young, too busy, or simply not interested enough at the time! You are doing a marvellous job of putting together very valuable family history.

    • Thank you, Anne! I did the genealogy decades ago and it just sat in folders and boxes. After transcribing old letters and postcards, and even my grandmother’s memoirs, plus learning a little history, it became fun to weave their stories! And having a blog makes it so easy to share with relatives, and anyone else.

  2. What a great story! I often think about how I’d love to sit down with my grandparents and hear all the stories about them first hand!

    Of course my great grandparents were dead 50 years before I was born. I was always jealous of my friends that still had theirs….

    • My other great grandmother–Dad’s grandmother Nellie–was still alive when I was little, but I don’t remember her. But it was Mom’s family who lived next door to Nellie and has told me stories about how good and helpful they were during the Great Depression. Thankful for stories.

    • I ended up with all of them from my mother’s side of the family–from her mother and her grandmother! I felt guilty having them all–until Facebook! I’ve shared them all on cousin FB pages, plus stories. But having a blog makes it so much easier to keep the stories and photos together!

  3. What a wonderful and patience lady Great Grandmother was while living with Grandma Wilson. She taught us all how to crochet.

  4. Interesting story! My gr. gr. Grandfather was Thomas Jordan of Monteith. He moved there after the gold rush. His bro was Abram Jordan (married to Priscilla Reed) from Casey. Abram & Priscilla had been requested to move to Casey because of their skills — he was a brick mason & a Mason. Priscilla was a mid-wife. Priscilla had a brother, who owned a good deal of land. He donated 200 acres to build the town of Monteith, in anticipation of the railroad coming through.

    I cannot make the connection to David Jordan. Both Abram & Thomas were from Noble County, OH. Judging from the dates, David’s father must have been a brother of theirs.

    • Hurrah! Your Abram Jordan appears on page 19 of the Genealogy of Jacob Jordan and Mary Ann Shriver! David Jordan is on page 126. Join me email and we’ll get to the bottom of it! Monteith is dear to my heart as my grandparents Clabe and Leora (Goff) Wilson met there and started their home there, where Leora’s mother was born (in a log cabin in 1868) and grandparents lived, between Monteith and the cemetery.

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