The Goff Children in Photos, Three at a Time

Leora was the oldest

From Leora Goff Wilson’s memoirs: “When we had photographs taken, there were always three of us in each picture–the first picture earlier was of Merl, Wayne (the baby, six or seven months old), and myself (when I was maybe two and one-half years).”

Wayne, Leora, and Merl Goff, 1893, Hartington, Nebraska

Leora was born in Guthrie County, Merl in Green County, then they moved to Nebraska, where the next three were born.


“The second group was of Georgia, Jennings, and Rolla (when Rolla was about nine months old).”

1898 Georgia (4), Rolla (few months), and Jennings Goff (2). Georgia short hair leads me to wonder whether she’d recently had whooping cough. That was why Leora’s hair was cut short the year before.

Georgia and Jennings were born in Nebraska, Rolla in Guthrie County.


“While we lived at Key West [Minnesota], I went with Mamma on the train to Grand Forks [North Dakota] to get their picture taken. I went along, of course, to help Momma with the little ones and to put the finger curls in Willis’ hair. His hair curled over a finger easily and I was the one who took the time to put the curl in his hair at home.”

Ruby, Perry, and Willis Goff, taken in North Forks, ND, 1904

Ruby was born during the one year they lived in the county seat of Guthrie Center, Willis was born after they’d moved back to a farm, and Perry was born during the few years the Goffs lived in Polk County, Minnesota.


Perhaps their mother hoped that Clarence Zenas would be the last Goff baby, born after they returned to Guthrie County.

Clarence Zenas Goff, born 1905

One more baby lived about a year, Virgil Cleon, born in Audubon County, Iowa.

Virgil Cleon Goff, born 1908, Audubon County, 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” (about 42), Perry (almost 4), Clarence (almost 2), Laura (about 39 and pregnant with Virgil), Willis (5). July 4, 1907, Audubon, Iowa, J. F. Frazier’s Studio.

All the Goff children lived into their eighties and nineties, except Georgia, who died when she was 28.



  1. Hi Joy, wish I had asked my mom hundreds of questions on her life growing up…missed out on feeling her
    transition from 1900 on the farm to raising me and Curtis in Long Beach, CA. You fill in a lot of gaps…thank you.

    • Gary, the next book will fill in even more, although Leora was 10 years older than your mother. I wish I’d asked questions of Great Grandmother Goff as well!

      Leora’s Early Years: Guthrie County Roots should be published this summer. It’s with an editor now, and I’m gathering up endorsers and beta readers this month.

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