Leora’s Mother: Laura (Jordan) Goff (1868-1962)

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


The next three children are buried at Monteith. Laura’s small siblings 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 probably more times than that.

The 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 WCTU meeting at a church 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.

When 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, photo 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 loved visiting Grandma Leora 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 took their very first 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. Love all the photos but the two family photos are priceless. Funny, I was thinking of the washing Laura had to do with all those white clothes 🙂 what a job!

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