Monday, August 11, 2008

Where Is Dicey?

My great-grandfather, Richard Goff, was born in 1855, the only surviving child of William Monty Goff and Rebecca Gover. Rebecca died in 1857, five days before her infant son, Samuel died. Rebecca's death certificate says that she died of a cold, but since she died five days after Samuel's birth, in today's vernacular, we might say that she died of complications from childbirth. Rebecca is presumably buried in the Gover cemetery outside of Somerset, Kentucky. However, there is no marker and no way to pin point where she is interred.
Richard was two when William married Lucinda Cash, and from all indications from family members, he grew up a healthy, happy person. Richard married Dicey sometime around 1872; he would have been 17. They had five children, Barbara Ann, b. 1874, Mary (Mollie,) b. 1876, William G. (Willie,) b. 1877, Rebecca, b. 1880 and Oscar Eli, b. 1882. The 1880 U.S. Census, shows Richard as head of household, with wife, Dicey, and four children. The 1890 Census shows Richard with five children. Richard married Mary Ellen Stephens in 1891. Mary Ellen gave birth to Andrew Montgomery in 1892, and Icy in 1894.
The burning question is what happened to Dicey, and who was she really? One family historian says she was Dicey Stephens, but the only records I have found on Dicey Stephens were one born in 1830 who would be too old, and one born in 1875, who would be quite young. Although the latter Dicey Stephens would be a possible mate, it is unlikely, because she was the younger sister of Mary Ellen, Richard's second wife, and she would have been 15 at the time Richard and Mary Ellen were married.
Another family historian says emphatically that she was not Dicey Stephens. She was Dicey Emeline Ping. I tend to believe this historian who says Dicey left Richard for another man and migrated with him to Iowa, never to be seen nor heard from again. This is a plausible theory, but it's only that, culled from old legends as to what might have actually happened.
Andrew Goff was, of course, my grandfather. He remained somewhat close to Eli until Eli's death. My father, Paul, remained on terms with Charles, Eli's son, until my father died in 2005. My father and Uncle Richard had vivid memories of Willie paying visits to their home in Ludlow when they were younger. Yet in all their memories, none of them knew anything about Dicey. Charles knows nothing about Dicey, and she was his grandmother. He'd like to know.
There is no marriage record or divorce record for Richard and Dicey. There is, however, a marriage record for Richard and Mary Ellen. I asked my father if he thought it was possible that the travelling preacher just never made it through Burnside to "legally" marry Richard and Dicey. My father thought that was possible but not likely, since at that time, the Goffs were members of the Central Christian Church in Somerset. When Richard married Mary Ellen, the Goffs entered the Pittman Creek Baptist Church. Neither church has records of Richard and Dicey, but Pittman Creek has records of Richard and Mary Ellen.
The Goffs and the Pings are intertwined throughout family history. Two of Richard's aunts were married to Ping brothers. Richard's great-grandmother, Matilda, married a Ping following her divorce from John Pointer. (That must have been a scandal!) I do believe Dicey was a Ping. I believe that, however, with no shred of legitimate proof! Fortunately, for my line, it doesn't really matter, as my great-grandmother was Mary Ellen. I just want to know!

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