PAST AND PRESENT
OF
MENARD COUNTY, ILLINOIS - 1905

Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company


Transcribed by: Kristin Vaughn

Page 439

LEONARD K. GOFF, who is engaged in farming and threshing in township 19, range 5, is a representative of a pioneer family of Menard county, and throughout his entire business career he has been identified with agricultural interests in this portion of the state. His birth occurred in Menard county, June 8, 1856, his parents being William and Mary (Westfall) Goff. The father, who was eighty-two years of age on the 19th of August, 1904, came to Illinois from Kentucky when four years of age and has been a resident of Menard county for seventy-eight years. His father died when he was a small boy and he lived at home with his mother until he attained his majority. He then began farming on his own account with very limited capital, having one yoke of oxen, a horse and a cow, the entire outfit being not worth more than seventy-five or eighty dollars, but he possessed courage and resolute spirit and he determined to gain a comfortable living and a good farm property if they could be acquired through persistent and honorable effort. On the 24th of October, 1844, he secured a companion and helpmate for life's journey by his marriage to Miss Mary Westfall, who was born in New York and was eighty years of age on the 10th of October, 1904. She came to Illinois when twelve years of age, making the trip down the Ohio river on a raft to a point in Indiana and thence traveling across the county to Illinois. The young couple began their domestic life in true pioneer style. When they started housekeeping they had a dry-goods box for a table and their other furniture was equally primitive. The bedstead was practically a swinging bunk, which could be turned up and attached to the wall in the day time. The house was built of logs, had nothing save the ground floor and there was one door and window, while the chimney was made of sticks and clay. Thus amid pioneer surroundings Mr. and Mrs. Goff started out for themselves, laboring earnestly and untiringly to gain a good start in life. As soon as possible, Mr. Goff purchased eighty acres of wild prairie land and as the years passed he prospered in his undertakings. Subsequently he was enabled to replace the primitive dwelling by a comfortable frame residence. He has led a very busy, useful and active life and his career has commanded the respect and good will of all with whom he has been associated. Although now well advanced in years, he still superintends his farming interests and he has added from time to time to his original farm until he now owns two hundred and eighty-five acres of very rich and arable land, which annually returns to him a good income. He has also been prominent in community affairs and has filled the position of road commissioner, while for many years he was school director. His political allegiance is given the Democracy and both he and his wife are consistent and faithful members of the Baptist church. In their family were eight children, five sons and three daughters: Theodore L., who was born November 20, 1848, and is now living in Nodaway county, Missouri; Commodore P., who was born August 20, 1850 and is now living in Colby, Kansas; Louisa, who was born July 11, 1853, and is the wife of Robert Cantrell, of Menard county; Leonard K., of this review; Frederick W., who was born December 30, 1858, and resides upon the old homestead farm; Murry M., who was born February 24, 1860, and resides near Loveland, Colorado; Mrs. Emma Frye, who was born August 25, 1864, and resides at Springfield, Illinois; Mrs. Ella McNeal, a twin sister of Emma, now residing at Campbell's Hill, Illinois.

On the old home farm Leonard K. Goff was born and reared, working for his father until about twenty years of age. He gained practical experience of the labors of field and meadow and when not engaged with the farm work he devoted his time and attention to mastering the branches of learning taught in the public schools. After leaving home he worked by the month for a short time in Menard county and subsequently he went to Missouri, where he engaged in farming on his own account for a year. He then returned to Menard county, where he also operated a rented farm for a year. On the expiration of that period he was married and accompanied by his bride he traveled by wagon to Nodaway county, Missouri, where he lived for four years, engaged in farming and sheep-raising. Not being able to buy land there he had to go to Kansas in order to get land for grazing purposes, for he had one hundred and eighty-five head of sheep. As the ranch there was owned by others and he was denied the privilege of pasturing his sheep thereon, he bought cattle and later he traded his cattle for eighty acres of land. Afterward, however, he traded this land for sheep, which he finally sold to Jefferson Johnson and returned to Menard county. On again reaching this county he rented a farm, upon which he lived for seven years, or until the time of the death of his mother-in-law. He is now farming one hundred and fifteen acres of his father's farm and for the past seven years he has also engaged in threshing. His business interests are well conducted and he is widely known as a man of enterprise and of careful management.

On the 1st of August, 1878, Leonard K. Goff was united in marriage to Ellen F. Holland, a daughter of Stephenson and Frances T. (Pace) Holland, both of whom were natives of Kentucky, the former born December 24, 1813, and the latter February 6, 1818. They came to Menard county about 1846, Mrs. Holland making the journey on horseback from Kentucky. The first work which Mr. Holland did in this county was farm labor, for which he received six dollars per month. He afterward married and began housekeeping with limited means. He soon arranged, however, for the purchase of one hundred and twenty acres of land from the government and later he sold this property and bought another tract of one hundred and twenty acres, upon which he spent his remaining days, successfully carrying on general farming and stock-raising until his life's labors were ended in death on the 4th of March, 1875. Mrs. Holland long survived him and died July 31, 1899. Both were members of the Cumberland Presbyterian church at Irish Grove and were people of the highest respectability. During her long residence in Menard county, Mrs. Holland endeared herself to many friends by whom she was lovingly and familiarly called Aunt Frankie. When she passed away one who knew her well wrote of her: "Thus has ended another life which has mostly been spent in assisting in developing the great state of her adoption-Illinois. She has witnessed many changes, both in the development of the resources of Illinois and in the building up of society around her. She will be missed, not only by her children, but also by a large circle of old and true friends. Her life acts will stand as an everlasting monument to her memory and her example is worthy of imitation, not only by her children, but also by all those who came under its influence. May her mantle fall upon her daughters and the far-away son be comforted by the thought that his dear old mother is at rest." Mr. and Mrs. Holland were the parents of seven children: Martha L., who was born November 4, 1849, and died May 19, 1886; Mrs. Mary E. Mitchell, who was born April 12, 1851, and now resides in Morgan county, Illinois; Mrs. Julia Lukins, who was born March 23, 1853, and resides in Greenview; Eliza J., who was born November 17, 1854, and died November 11, 1874; Ellen F., who was born August 18, 1856; Mrs. Louisa A. Belt, who was born June 27, 1858, and makes her home in Bates county, Missouri; and Dr. Edward A. Holland, who was born October 25, 1860, and is now living in Houston, Texas, where he is engaged in practice as a specialist in the treatment of diseases of the eye, ear and throat. He is a self-made man and is the owner of a hospital in Houston. In his professional labors he is greatly assisted by his wife, who was formerly a trained nurse of New York city.

The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Goff has been blessed with three children: Mrs. Lotta F. Paine, who was born December 26, 1880, and is living on a farm in Menard county; Edwin C., who was born September 25, 1884, and assists his father in the home farm; and Gilbert E., who was born October 13, 1891, and is also at home. The parents are earnest Christian people, Mr. Goff holding membership with the Baptist church and his wife with the Cumberland Presbyterian church, and socially he is identified with the Court of Honor and the Modern Woodmen of America, while politically he is a stanch Democrat. He has a wide acquaintance in Menard county, where the greater part of his life has been passed and he enjoys the confidence of the entire business community.


1905 Bio. Index

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