Guthrie Center, Iowa–Union Cemetery

With our grandparents Clabe and Leora (Goff) Wilson buried at Perry, as well as one son and a stone of remembrance for two more sons lost during WWII, some of us cousins were trying to remember which relatives are buried at Guthrie Center instead.

Photo thanks to JaNelle Clint Keith.

When Leora Goff was nine years old, she was one of about twenty young girls who took part in the 1900 Decoration Day procession to Guthrie Center, Iowa’s Union Cemetery.

Veterans of the Civil and Spanish American Wars decorated a hay rack wagon, she remembered, abd a team of Palomino horses pulled the wagon to the cemetery. The girls, dressed in white–with red, white, and blue sashes over their shoulders–rode on the wagon. The veterans marched behind. At the cemetery, a girl in white accompanied a veteran in uniform to lay flowers on soldiers’ graves.

Leora had no relatives buried in that cemetery then. The Jordans and Moores were all buried at Monteith.

Until Leora’s younger sister died in 1922.

Her father, M.S. “Sherd” Goff, bought the Goff plot when Georgia Laurayne Goff died (probably of a brain tumor) , at the age of 28.

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Georgia Laurayne Goff


Two years later, Jennings Goff’s young wife, Tessie (Sauvago) Goff, died of the mumps four days after baby Merrill was born in 1924. She was almost 24.

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Tessie Goff with daughter Maxine, 1921.


Jack and Jean Wilson, newborn twins of Clabe and Leora (Goff) Wilson caught whooping cough in Dexter. Jack died of it on March 3, and Jean two days later. Five weeks old. Their funeral was held in the house in Dexter, but they are buried in the Goff plot at Guthrie Center. There are no pictures of them.



Milton Sheridan “Sherd Goff, age 64, died in 1930 while shocking oats with his grandsons Delbert and Donald Wilson near Dexter.

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M.S. (Milton Sheridan) “Sherd” Goff


Marilyn Louise Wilson was born to Clabe and Leora Sept. 15, 1931 at Dexter. She died October 6 of a weak heart. Her sister Doris had named her but they never got a picture of her. Marilyn is buried in the Goff plot at Guthrie Center.

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Laura Arminta (Jordan) Goff, age 94 and the mother of 11 children, died in Guthrie Center in 1962. Besides her husband, she already had a daughter and three grandchildren buried there.

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Laura Arminta (Jordan) Goff, taken 1948 by her grandson, Merrill Goff.


Rolla Jordan Goff, age 72, died in 1970 at Daytona Beach, Florida, but had his body shipped home for his oldest sister, Leora (Goff) Wilson to make arrangements for his burial at Guthrie Center.

Rolla Jordan Goff


Perry Alfred Goff, age 78, died at Tampa, Florida, in  1982, and also had his body shipped to Guthrie Center for his sister Leora to arrange for burial where their father had bought burial plots.

Perry Alfred Goff


To recap: Between when Leora was a “flower girl” in the 1900 Decoration Day ceremony and 1982, when the last Goff was buried at Guthrie Center: her parents, Sherd and Laura Goff are buried, as is her younger sister Georgia Laurayne Goff, and a sister-in-law Tessie Goff.

Two bachelor brothers are buried there: Rolla and Perry Goff. They lived in Florida and I don’t remember meeting either of them.

And the babies lost at Dexter during the Great Depression: twins  Jack and Jean Wilson, and Marilyn Louise Wilson.

Stories mostly from Leora’s Early Years: Guthrie County Roots and Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression.


    • We used to stop there first with Grandma, to leave flowers for her parents, on our way to the Perry cemetery. As I kid, I didn’t pay that much attention to the others. I sure wish I had.

  1. What an interesting story! My grandparents (Charles and Mary Kennedy) and uncle Frank are buried in union cemetery. It’s a beautiful cemetery.

    • I haven’t been there in a long time. I’d like to visit again, have Sunday dinner at the Cabbage Rose restaurant, and also find Windy Gap near Monteith (where most of my pioneer relatives are buried).

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