Nathan Poole Goff (1815-1900)


“Nathan P. Goff was born October 2d, 1815, near Wheeling, West Virginia, and died at his home in Union county, Iowa, February 23, 1900, with cancer in the mouth, age 84 years, 4 months and 21 days. From West Virginia he moved with his parents to Missouri, living there three years. He went from Missouri to Muncie, Delaware county, Indiana, and was there married to Elizabeth Norris, August 22, 1839, who died Aug. 16th, 1894. With his wife he came to Iowa in the year 1863 and settled in Madison county near Fairview, where he lived for a number of years.

Nathan Poole Goff

“He was the father of eleven children, four sons and seven daughters, one son and one daughter preceding him in death. The others survive him, three daughters and one son are present today.

Nat (2)

“He was converted at the age of fifteen and united with the M.E. church in West Virginia. He was one of the first members, and was the first class leader and first Sunday school superintendent of the Fairview church. A few days before his death he requested his son, Alfred to read to him from the bible; he read the fourth chapter of 1st Thess.

“On his death bed his son asked him if he had any message for the absent children and he repeated the latter part of the 13th verse of that chapter which reads as follows: ‘Concerning them which are asleep,that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.’

“‘For,’ said he, ‘I have a hope.’

“Those who have known him during his lifetime can testify to his upright character, earnest piety and strong faith in Christ. His life has been an example worthy of imitation not only by his children and relatives, but all who desire to live thorough Christian and exemplary lives in service of the Master.”

According to Col. J. P. Barnes, when Nathan Goff was 22 years old, he bought 80 acres of land from his father, John Shelburn Goff. Less than two years later he married Elizabeth Norris, and all eleven of their children were born at the same place in Delaware County, Indiana, over a 20-year period.

Family tradition says that he paid for substitutes to keep his sons from fighting in the Civil War, but his oldest son, Milton, did not move to Iowa with the family as he was serving with the Army of the Potomac.

His First Corn Crop

The first crop of corn Nathan Goff planted in Iowa was with the help of two daughters, Jane and Adaline, one sitting on each side of his planter dropping the seed while he drove a team of mules.

milton (2)
Milton Goff

Madison County land records show that Nathan P. Goff’s first land purchase included 80 acres in Jefferson Township. This was the family home for the next seventeen years. His land holding ranged between 120 and 240 acres. In 1880 he sold his farm to his son, Alfred, but continued to live in the stone house (which was still standing in 1972). In 1897 Alfred sold the farm and moved to Union County, Iowa, and it was there that his father died.

Nathan P. and Elizabeth Goff are buried at Fairview Cemetery, north of Winterset, Iowa, along Highway 169.

History and Genealogy of the Nathan P. Goff Family by Col. J. P. Barnes (1972)


  1. Always thrilled to see the photo’s and read the accounts of your family from such early beginnings. Great detailed account. I can picture the two daughters easily, along side dad tossing the corn seeds 🙂 Sharon

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