Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Andrew & Nellie Goff
Andrew Montgomery Goff was born June 28, 1892 in Burnside, Pulaski County, Kentucky. Richard Goff was married to Mary Ellen Stephens, and Andy was their first child. Richard had five other children by a previous marriage.
Andrew was born into a family of farmers. His father farmed; his grandfather farmed; and his great-grandfather farmed. The family was not one that was well to do, and when Andy came into the world, the Tennessee Valley Authority had not yet damned the Cumberland River. Power was still a luxury in the Cumberlands, and the railroad was still young.
Nellie Hughes was born July 10, 1892, also in Burnside, Pulaski County, Kentucky. Nellie had a twin sister, Ida, but the girls were separated at the age of eight when their mother, whose true identity is currently unknown, died of a snake bite.
It is known, through tax and property records, as well as census records, that the Hughes' farm and the Goff's homestead were in close proximity. It is unknown how they met, but Andrew Goff and Nellie Hughes were married in Huntsville, Tennessee on the 29th day of April, 1913, by Justice of the Peace, James McDonald. They returned to Burnside where they set up housekeeping and Andy got a job with the railroad.
Andy and Nellie had six children. Herbert Goff was born February 28, 1914 and died March 21, of the same year. On the 20th day of June, 1915, John Milton Goff was born in Strawberry, Pulaski County, Kentucky. Thelma was born on February 12, 1920 in Somerset, Pulaski County, Kentucky.
By 1923, Andy was established in his job with the Southern Railroad. Andrew accepted a job as foreman for the company, and that required a move to the Cincinnati area. Richard Goff was born November 17, 1924, in Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio. By the time Paul Martin was born on June 2, 1927, the family had moved into what was called "the section house," in Ludlow, Kenton County, Kentucky. The section house was owned by the Southern Railroad, and it was there that Abel was born on April 2, 1930.
Andy's job required him to be away from the family a great deal. Nellie had only a second grade education, and her method of child rearing came straight from the Book of Proverbs, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6, KJV) She adapted her methodology straight from the King James Bible. It is safe to say that execution of her methodology would probably not be tolerated in today's society. She was tough, and she meant what she said.
Even though Andy did have steady work, the family was among dirt poor. Nellie took in laundry and ironing to help offset the expenses of a large family. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Nellie watched her sons, one by one, go off to war. Richard served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Morrison which was struck by a kamikaze. Richard spent a great deal of time in the VA Hospital in Columbus, Ohio before being honorably discharged for his service to his country. Paul enlisted shortly after Richard was injured. He served in the U.S. Army in the military police at the fall of Italy. Abel enlisted and served in the Korean conflict. The Goff brothers never spoke of their military service except in the context of family history.
Andy and Nellie were active members of the First Baptist Church of Ludlow, Kentucky. Andy wore a Sunday School for 30 some odd years of perfect attendance. Each of their children came to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
When Andy retired from the railroad, they bought a house on East 18th Street in Covington, Kentucky. The house is still standing to this day, although, the years have not been kind to it. If the grandchildren could walk inside, they could still probably remember the aroma of Andy's pipe, or feel the hunger pains from the smell of Nellie's chicken and dumplings on the stove. They might even feel the warmth emanating from the wood stove that took up half the living room or the coolness of Gramma's venetian blinds masked by the softness of the white curtains that hung in front of them. They could probably hear the willowy whine of the fiddle strings being tuned up and primed for a little Ragtime Annie, or the tinny clang of the claw string banjo as Andy plucked out choruses of Cotton-eyed Joe.
Nellie's health was poor throughout her autumn/winter years. She succumbed to colon cancer on December 4, 1972. Nellie was interred on December 6, 1972 in Floral Hills Cemetery, Kenton County, Kentucky, to be joined by Andy on May 16, 1976. Reuniting with Herbert, they have since been joined in Heaven by John, Thelma, Paul and Abel, as well as two of their grandchildren, Ronny and Darlene.
Perhaps the greatest lesson derived from the lives of Andy and Nellie is to live in the moment. They were contented to be in the moment and each had a deep abiding joy in the depths of their souls. Knowing this world is temporary, their treasures were surely laid up in Heaven. Perhaps their greatest reward is knowing their whole family will someday be reunited.