For new followers, Leora (Goff) Wilson was my grandmother. She’s the dark-haired girl in the back row, the oldest in the family, born in 1890. She is the heroine in both Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Depression Years of the Great Depression and Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II.
I’m working on Leora’s Early Years, which includes stories about her siblings. Some also have roles in the Depression era stories.
Here’s a photo of the family taken July 4, 1907, Audubon, Iowa.
By 1911, when he bought a farm at Wichita, Iowa, Sherd Goff would not allow his older children to go to high school.
The three oldest sons–Merl, Wayne, and Jennings (born in 1892, 1893, and 1896)–were farming when drafted in WWI.
While their sons were still in France, Sherd and Laura bought a Victorian house in the county seat town of Guthrie Center. I know very little about Rolla (born in 1898), the middle Goff son. The photo below is from WWII.
The three youngest sons were allowed to attend high school–Willis, Perry, and Clarence.
Perry dropped out as a sophomore, shortly after he had an appendicitis attack. He also worked late at Cronk’s Cafe and it was hard for him to get up in the morning, so his dad kicked him out of the house–not an uncommon occurrence in this household.
Their Only High School Graduates
Willis was 21 when he finally graduated! But when they lived on the farm, his father had only allowed him to go to school in the winter.
Clarence–the seventh son as my grandmother pointed out–was just 17 and the youngest in his class when he became their valedictorian. He was awarded a scholarship but they decided he was too young to take advantage of it, so Willis used it and studied chemistry at the University of Iowa.
Having that high school education was a big benefit to these two brothers. They were the most successful ones out of a family of ten. Willis went into cosmetics in Southern California.
After riding the rails for a while, Clarence (C.Z.) eventually became owner of a heating and cooling company (Timpkin) in Omaha, and was really able to see the extended family through the Depression.
When their father died in 1930, C.Z. bought a house so that Laura, Jennings (a widower) and his children, and oldest brother Merl could move to Omaha. He also provided jobs to Jennings and Merl, and regularly helped out his sister’s growing family during those bleak years.
These Goff brothers were my mother’s uncles, who visited their mother and oldest sister (my Grandma Leora) regularly at Guthrie Center, Iowa.
Perry and Rolla were the only two I don’t remember. They never married, but arranged to have their remains sent home from the east coast for my grandmother to bury.
Merl seemed to love arguing about politics. Wayne and Willis were the most outgoing to young great nieces.
J.B., Rolla, and Perry died in their seventies. C.Z. lived to be 84. (Rolla and Perry are buried at Guthrie Center.)
Three brothers lived into their nineties–Wayne to 93, Merl to 94, and Willis to 99.