Book Talk in Guthrie Center November 1

Leora’s Early Years – Book Talk – Joy Neal Kidney

4 p.m., November 1, 2022, Mary J. Barnett Memorial Library, Guthrie Center, Iowa

Cover photo taken in 1914 in front of the home of Clabe Wilson’s mother. Newlyweds Clabe and Leora Wilson

Leora’s Early Years: Guthrie County Roots, Joy Neal Kidney new release

Short Description: The oldest of 10 children, Leora Goff developed the tenacity, optimism, and hope to endure many family moves, great losses, an influenza pandemic, brothers sent off to the Great War, marriage to Clabe Wilson, and the births of seven children–mostly set in Guthrie County.

After World War II, she was a long-time resident of Guthrie Center, a Gold-Star Mother active in her church and many civic groups.

“Morrisburg Cemetery,” a poem by Guthrie Center native Nicholas Dowd, enhances the book. (Clabe Wilson’s mother and grandparents are buried in Morrisburg Cemetery, along with several other relatives.)

Joy’s other books are Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II and Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression. All five Wilson brothers are remembered on the Dallas County Freedom Rock at Minburn, near where they were tenant farmers during the war. Only two came home.

Guthrie Center, Iowa, was Grandma Leora Wilson’s town, where she made a home for her own mother after WWII until Great Grandmother Laura Arminta (Jordan) Goff died in 1962. Grandma lived alone for the first time in her long life until the age of 97, in 1987. Guthrie Center meant Grandma Leora for us, a half-an-hour drive from rural Dexter.

I still have a soft spot for Guthrie Center, enjoying Sunday dinner at the Cabbage Rose Restaurant on a Sunday, after driving there from the Des Moines area, “over the river and through the woods” (Monteith, where Clabe and Leora met and began their married life, also where Leora’s mother was born in a log cabin in 1868).

Grandma Leora lived at 505 N. 4th Street, now remodeled and unrecognizable as Grandma’s little house.

Come hear stories about early Guthrie County!


  1. How I wish I could be there! Guthrie Center has such good memories for me, however everything I loved is gone now.
    Remember Joy when you are at the library you are at the site of the old Kennedy homestead, where I understand your mama and my grandma used to sit on the porch and talk for hours.
    Last time I was there I could look out the library windows and see the same sights as when I looked out the windows of grandmas.
    Miss that old house!

    • I’m glad to find you again, Lori! After I gave a talk at the Stuart library during the summer, the next-door city hall gave me a map of the cemetery so I’ve visited the Johnston graves. My husband got a photo of me with Murray Johnston’s stone. (If you’d like a copy of the Guthrie book, send your address to

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