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Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company


Transcribed by: Steve Madosik III

Page 198

WILLIAM GOFF, who is now living retired, was once engaged extensively in stock-dealing in Menard county and he is now residing in township 18 upon a fine farm of two hundred and eighty-five acres, his attractive home being surrounded by beautiful shade and fruit trees of his own planting. He has traveled far on life's journey and in the evening of life he receives the veneration and respect which should ever be accorded one of advanced years, whose career has been actuated by upright principles and honorable conduct. He was born in Green county, Kentucky, August 19, 1822, the second son of William and Amy (Trent) Goff. His parents were also natives of Kentucky, and in 1825 they came northward to Menard county Illinois, remaining for a short time in Clary's Grove, after which they removed to a farm five miles southeast of the present site of Petersburg. Not long afterward the father died and the mother, who was a splendid type of the noble pioneer women, not only cared for her fatherless children but also succeeded in retaining possession of the claim, improving it and laying by some money. In the family were seven children.

William Goff spent his youth and early manhood amid conditions which are always found in a frontier district. His educational privileges were extremely meager and he earned his first money when twelve years of age by riding horses, tramping out wheat. The sum thus gained he invested in a pig, thus entering upon his first business transactions. He sold this at a profit and as he found opportunity from time to time he purchased other stock until he had quite a herd of young cattle. He was a successful trader and he continued to thus engage in stock-dealing until about thirty years of age, when, thinking it time that he own property, he entered forty acres of land from the government in Mason county, Illinois. On the expiration of two years he sold the tract there and purchased eighty acres in Sugar Grove precinct of Menard county, trading a horse in part payment for this land and giving also sixty-five dollars in cash. He then cut logs, which he hauled to a little sawmill and had them converted into lumber, with which to build his first house. This pioneer structure, which is fourteen by sixteen feet, is still standing and is one of the landmarks of the neighborhood. When he moved into the little home he had but fifty cents in money and an ox team. He had incurred indebtedness in order to complete the house, but he possessed a resolute spirit and strong determination and his unfaltering courage and willingness to work have been the means that have enabled him to overcome all difficulties and obstacles in his path and work his way steadily upward to success. He had been installed in his new home for only a brief period when he broke forty acres of prairie land for Mr. Brasfield at two dollars per acre and with this amount he paid for the building of his house.

On the 24th of October, 1844, Mr. Goff was united in marriage to Miss Mary D. Westfall, who was born in Pennsylvania, October 10, 1824. Her parents removed to Des Moines county, Iowa, in 1838. Mr. and Mrs. Goff resided upon a farm in Sugar Grove precinct and as opportunity offered he purchased more land until he had one hundred and sixty acres. This he mortgaged for one thousand dollars and used the money to buy stock. He often had as high as seventy-five head of fat cattle at one time. These he purchased for about twenty-six dollars per head and sold them for one hundred and six dollars per head, thus realizing a good profit on his investment. He also sold mules enough at one time to buy fifty head of cattle. On another occasion he bought ten old sows for ten dollars each and after letting them run in a lot for six weeks he fattened them and sold them for twenty-five dollars each. He continued to feed cattle and hogs for ten years and has had some very fine stock, his best cattle weighing as high as sixteen and seventeen hundred pounds. He has always made money in the stock business, for being an excellent judge of stock he was enabled to make judicious purchases and profitable sales. In 1860 he bought fifty head of cattle for fourteen dollars per head and after feeding them sold them for forty-five dollars per head, receiving payment in gold at a time when that currency was at a premium. These he bought in Knox county and drove them to Menard county. On another occasion he purchased a herd of cattle for which he paid fifty dollars per head and after feeding them he received one hundred and twenty-five dollars per head. He also bought a yoke of oxen for sixty dollars, which he afterward sold for two hundred dollars. Mr. Goff became widely known as a very extensive and prosperous stock-raiser and dealer, and his business was carried on along progressive and profitable lines for a number of years, or until 1889, when he sold his stock to his son Fred and since that time he has practically been living a retired life, he and his wife occupying their fine home in Sugar Grove precinct, which is surrounded by shade and fruit trees of his own planting. He here has two hundred and eight-five acres of rich and valuable land, which is the visible evidence of his life of thrift and industry. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Goff were born ten children, and the group picture here represented shows four generations of family, Mr. and Mrs. Goff being the great-grandparents.

While business cares have largely occupied his time and attention Mr. Goff has also found opportunity to devote to public interests. He served as road commissioner for one year and was school director for fifteen or twenty years. In politics he is a stanch Democrat, believing firmly in the principles of Democracy, and both he and his wife are members of the Baptist church and have long taken an active and helpful part in its work, contributing to its support and doing all in their power to promote its progress. One of the venerable citizens of Menard county, Mr. Goff is honored as a patriarch of this community and it is with pleasure that we present to our readers the record of his career.

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