Laura Jordan Goff

Honored by:Her six granddaughters: Doris Wilson Neal, Darlene Wilson Scar, Maxine Goff Allgood, Connie Goff Elston, Shirley Bittner and Phyllis Goff Lopez
Brick location:A:17  map

Laura Jordan Goff (1868-1962)

When Laura Jordan was born in a log cabin in 1868, she was already a fourth-generation Iowan but she was the first born in Iowa- Guthrie County. Laura's grandfather, Ephraim Moore, arrived in Guthrie County in 1855. He was a farmer, carpenter, teacher and one of the first preachers in the county. His daughter Emelia, a school teacher, married David Jordan, who was in the mercantile business a tanner and also a preacher.

Laura Arminta Jordan was the oldest of ten children, seven of whom lived to adulthood. The next three born died very young. She had two brothers and when she married at age 22, her surviving sisters were only eleven, nine, and one. Laura taught in a one-room school just south of Guthrie Center until she was married. The school where she taught is now a museum on the Guthrie County Fairgrounds, where her signature is in a book. Laura bought a gold watch so she would know when to ring the school bell to call the children. Since married women were not allowed to teach school, Laura needed a cow more than she needed to know what time it was. She traded her watch to her father for a cow.

She married Milton Sheridan "Sherd" Goff in early 1890. During the next 21, years Laura bore eleven children while Sherd moved his family at least thirteen times seeking greener pastures. Laura had agreed to move anywhere in the United States but wanted to live where her children would be educated. They began in a tiny house near Monteith, Iowa, lived in several spots in Guthrie County and five years in Audubon County--the longest they lived in any one spot. Sherd did try making a living in Nebraska, Minnesota and Montana but always returned to Iowa.

When three of Laura's sons were drafted in World War I, she knitted socks and mittens for the Red Cross and helped roll bandages. Two more of her sons served in World War II, as did six grandsons. Three of her grandsons lost their lives during the war. After a son's wife died, he and his two small children lived with his parents. Laura cared for the two grandchildren for several years. She assisted with the births of the ten children of her oldest daughter, who had two sets of twins. She made lace and satin burial gowns for the youngest twins, who were just a few weeks old when they died of whooping cough.

Laura worked hard, knew how to "do without," could make a good meal from almost nothing and could get more writing on a postcard than anyone.

On October 19, 1920, she wrote her oldest daughter, Leora Goff Wilson (also honored in the Plaza of Heroines), "Miss Grisell speaks at the Christian Church at 2:30 tomorrow and tells the women how to vote. Think I will learn how its done. Love Momma." Helen Grisell, Republican County Chairman for women, explained how to mark the new ballots--confusing rules about the ballot had been changed. Laura probably attended and she was probably the first woman in the family to cast a ballot in the first general election that women were allowed to vote--November 2, 1920.

Laura was active in her church and in the Rebekahs for many years. She taught her children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren to play Canasta, one of her favorite ways to spend a winter evening. After her daughter Leora was widowed, they lived together in Guthrie Center for several years. The year Laura turned 90 they flew to California to visit family. Cheeks rosy with excitement after they were airborne, Laura said, "I think this is the closest I'll ever get to Heaven."

Laura is being honored in the Plaza of Heroines by her six granddaughters: Doris Wilson Neal, Darlene Wilson Scar, Maxine Goff Allgood, Connie Goff Elston, Shirley Goff Bittner, and Phyllis Goff Lopez. One granddaughter describes Laura Goff as precious and kind. Another remembers her sense of humor. The granddaughter whose mother had died and who lived with her grandmother remembers the yellow crepe paper bonnet and dress Laura made for her to wear to a church program. She sang "Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam." The song and the color yellow still remind her of her cheerful, optimistic grandmother. What better praise would a woman want?

Written by Great Granddaughter Joy Neal Kidney
Photo taken by Grandson Merrill Goff, 1948