Milton Sheridan “Sherd” and Laura Goff of Guthrie County, Iowa, moved to Nebraska, about 1893, with three small children– Leora, Merl, and Wayne. Extensive newspaper flyers promised plentiful land near the new town of Bloomfield.
Georgia Goff was born there in 1894, the same year that William Jennings Bryan became editor of the Omaha World Herald.
Jennings Bryan Goff was born in 1896.
“In Nebraska, I remember when brother Jennings was born,” Leora Wilson wrote in her memoir. “We were sent to the neighbor’s, a quarter mile away, to play. We were returning home in the evening and we met an aunt of Pa’s, Emma Barnes. She told us to hurry on home, we had a baby brother. It was a nice day, the 21st of January, 1896. I remember it was warm and there was no snow in Nebraska then.”
Baby Jennings Bryan Goff was indeed named for the lawyer and “golden-tongued orator.” This man with a heart for farmers and free silver, and against the greed of the railroads, had moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1887, at age 27. Interested in politics, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1890 (the year Leora was born), and reelected two years later.
Goff’s “went bust” after only two years, but so did the Bloomfield Bank. Drought. The Goffs moved back to Iowa with five children.
Leora attended first grade in the town of Stuart. Her father was still a fan of the Nebraska politician. More from her memoirs: “In 1896, William Jennings Bryan was nominated on the Democratic ticket for President. He was nominated 3 times but never won election. He was a good orator and statesman. . . . When Bryan campaigned, Merl, Wayne, and I wore Bryan caps. My father was a Democrat and he bought the caps. I remember wearing my Bryan cap to school.”
It’s interesting to note that as an adult, Jennings Bryan Goff went by J.B. Goff.