Saturday, April 14, 2012

Curd Goss

The following biography was found on the Harrison County, Iowa USGenWeb page. It was posted Jan 2010 by jnjgoss and accessed Aug 2010.

 by jnjgoss

Curd Goss was born March 19, 1819 in Tennessee, the sixth son of John and Mary. He married Mary Ellen Alexander, probably in McMinn County before 1838. A number of their descendants are actively involved in family history and I will try to make clear which information came from those people and which has been found by my own research. Some have been particularly helpful, especially Gerald Roden of Duncan, Oklahoma, who was willing to exchange some opinions with me and expand on the basic identification of the family tree that exists on the Internet. Some of that information prompted me to dig further for other records and improve my understanding of the family.

Curd and Mary Ellen had 11 children: Martha E. (1838), Emily (1840-1854), Samantha (1842), Nancy (1845), William (1847), James (1849), Mary Ellen (1852), John S. (1854), Margaret Jane (1856-1859), Wiley (1858) and Harriet (1860-1861). Martha, Emily (probably), and Samantha were born in Missouri, the next five children in Tennessee, Margaret in Iowa, and Wiley and Harriet in Missouri. There does not appear to be a record of the family from the 1840 census, although my opinion is that they were in Missouri. Curd participated in the Cherokee Removal to Oklahoma during the 1830s, according to information from some of his descendants. That would have taken him through the same part of Missouri where Alvis lived in the late 1830s and where Allen sold land in 1843. The 1856 Iowa state census, discussed below, supports that opinion.

The first reference to the family was in the 1850 census of McMinn County, where they were recorded with the first six children, all shown as born in Tennessee. That record is probably wrong with respect to the first three daughters, Martha, Emily and Samantha, again based on the 1856 Iowa census.

Curd appeared several times in the land records of McMinn County, the first on November 25, 1852, when John Goss Sr. sold 160 acres to Curd for $1600. That same day, John Sr. sold 75 acres to James Goss. On December 23, 1852, John Goss Sr. deeded an additional 280 acres to Curd for an unnamed consideration. Coupled with some January 1852 records when James deeded land on behalf of John Sr. to settle a debt that the father was unable to pay, it appears that the sons remaining in McMinn County bought out their father in the November and December transactions.

Curd appeared again in the McMinn County land records in 1854, the first time in July when Curd bought a tract of less than two acres from his brother, James. Then Curd apparently sold all of his land in McMinn County (the two parcels from John Sr. and the small parcel from James) on September 12, 1854 to Joseph Neil for $4000. These transactions suggested that he was selling out and leaving the area.

In January 1855, Curd bought land in Harrison County, Iowa, just across the county line from Pottawattamie County and within about five miles of where Sherman Goss had moved his family in 1851. Taken together with the September 1854 land sale, it is clear that Curd knew exactly where he was going when he left Tennessee. He did not return to Missouri, where Alvis lived, but moved to Iowa, where Sherman lived.

I found the Iowa connection with help from another of Sherman’s descendants, Martha Grainger of Las Vegas, Nevada, who sent me a biography of Sherman’s oldest son, John S. Goss, who died in Harrison County in 1892. She had found it at the Harrison County GenWeb site where it had been posted long after my research of that site. When I revisited the site to search for Goss information, I found the biography and other references to John – but I also found four unexpected references to Curd Goss. The four references included two biographies that mentioned a farm previously owned by Curd Goss; a first school in Curd Goss’ house; and an 1857(?) incident in which Curd Goss shot William F. Vore. Following up on the reference to the farm, I found two 1855 land purchases and 1858 and 1860 sales of the same property.

With the biography and land information placing Curd in Harrison County from 1855 to at least 1857 or 1858, I found that there was an 1856 Iowa state census that might add to the picture of Curd’s family. I read the very faint microfilm in March 2003 at the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Curd was found in LaGrange Township, a farmer from Tennessee, age 37, resident of the state for one year, a voter and militia. His family included Polly, age 41, from North Carolina; Martha E. 17, born in Missouri; Samantha, age 14, born in Missouri; Nancy, age 10, born in Tennessee; William J.A., age 8, born in Tennessee; James, age 6, born in Tennessee; Mary E., age 4, born in Tennessee; John, age 2, born in Tennessee; and Margaret, age ¼, born in Iowa.

The 1856 census was apparently the last in which Curd appeared. There is a record of the marriage of Samantha in DeKalb County, Missouri, in March 1860, but Curd’s family definitely did not appear there in the 1860 census. It is quite likely that the family was on the move from Missouri to Texas and there is one land record in Grayson County, Texas in January 1860 that shows a lot purchased at a sheriff’s sale by “C.W. Goff.” There were Goff families there at that time, but no one answering the description of the buyer of that lot.
Curd was hanged at Gainesville, Texas on October 19, 1862, one of 41 men convicted in what appears to have been an unfair trial. The circumstances surrounding the trial are recorded in several accounts of “The Great Hanging of Gainesville” and were the result of some shootings and the fact that those hanged were opposed to secession. Rather than recount that history here, it can be found in several ways through an Internet search. I do have one possible insight to why Curd was in that part of Texas in the first place. One of the jurors, who objected to the way the jury was reaching their determinations of guilt or innocence, was Thomas C. Barrett. Barrett had lived in Texas since 1848 and in the Gainesville area since 1860. He was married first to Martha Alexander in Tennessee in 1833 and moved to Missouri in 1842. Martha died in 1844 and he remarried before the move to Texas. I think it quite possible that Martha Alexander Barrett and Mary Alexander Goss were sisters and that it was a family tie that took Curd’s family to Texas in 1860, just as it was a family tie that took them to Iowa in 1855.

Curd’s widow, Mary, returned to DeKalb County, Missouri, before the 1870 census, where she was recorded with four of her children: James, John, Ellen and Wyley. After checking various censuses for 1880, it would appear that Mary died before 1880. The children were somewhat scattered by 1880, with William living in Montague County, Texas; Samantha in DeKalb County, Missouri; James and Mary Ellen in Elk County, Kansas; John, probably in Kansas, although I have not yet located him in 1880; Wiley also in Kansas but not located. Regarding John, I have the autograph of his oldest daughter, Laura, who was a classmate of my grandmother, Edith Van Winkle Powell, during the 1890s in Leon, Kansas. Included on the autograph book page is a note with the name “Goff” written down in one corner; that was in fact Laura’s married name. John and his family had apparently moved to Oklahoma before Laura married.

The copy of the Curd Goss family bible indicates that Emily died in 1844; however, she was listed with the family in the 1850 census, so the Bible entries may have been made later with an inaccurate memory of the date of her death. She was not with the family in the 1856 Iowa census, so my guess is that she died in 1854.

My most interesting finding about the family concerned the oldest daughter, Martha. Curd’s descendants had a record of her birth and she was with the family in the 1850 census, with her place of birth shown as North Carolina. I found her with the family in the 1856 Iowa state census of Harrison County, age 17 and born in Missouri. The Missouri answer is probably correct, because I also found Martha in the 1860 federal census in Pottawattamie County, Iowa – with her husband and a two year old daughter. I actually had this 1860 information for three years before I realized that Martha was Curd’s daughter. Her husband was her first cousin, James C. Goss, the second son of Sherman Goss. I had found James and Martha by accident while looking for James’ sister, Mary, who had married in May 1860 to Huston Knight. I found the Knight family as expected, but next to them in the census was the family of James and Martha Goss with a daughter, Mary, age 2. This family was a surprise to me because the history I had for James showed him married in 1863 to Charity Wagstaff, with no record of an earlier marriage. In poking around for information about James and Martha, I found there was a marriage record for a couple by that name in Andrew County, Missouri in 1857. When I visited the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City in March 2003, I happened to read the film of the original marriage records of Andrew County, Missouri, and the 1856 census of Harrison County, Iowa, on the same day. The marriage record was specific about the couple being James C. Goss and Martha E. Goss. The census record was specific about Curd’s daughter being Martha E. Goss. Suddenly it all made sense; why this couple, both in Iowa in 1856, were married down the river in Missouri in 1857 and then back in Iowa by the 1860 census. I would suspect neither family approved of the marriage, although James’ father had died in 1855. It is also possible that this marriage was the reason behind Curd’s shooting of William F. Vore about 1857 that led to Curd leaving Iowa and ending up in Texas. While that is only a guess, I am fairly certain about the marriage being between these two first cousins. Martha probably died before 1863, since James remarried in February 1863. His family, as shown in the 1870 census, was as expected from our family tree and did not include the daughter from the first marriage. However, James’ oldest brother, John S. Goss, had a girl of age 12, Catherine, in the household. Since John and his wife, Mary, did not have any children, my guess is that this girl was James’ daughter. Since there was already a Mary in the household, it is likely that the girl was called by her middle name. She was not recorded in the 1880 Iowa census, although she would have been 22 by that time, and there is no marriage record for her in Pottawattamie County that I have found. James moved his second family to LaVeta, Colorado, and then to the Fresno, California area. I have found no indication that his descendants know anything about his first marriage, but there is no surprise there.

I have corresponded with several of Curd’s descendants and they all seem well aware of how Curd’s life ended, although I may have a number of details in this account that are news to some of them. Again, my purpose is not to repeat the accounts of his descendants, but to add some perspective through the things I have found in my research. Curd’s move to Iowa was a major find in sorting out Sherman’s ancestry, something I might not have been able to do without digging deeper into Curd’s history.

Note: Curd's widow, Mary E. Goss, lived with her son, Wiley Goss in Elk County, Kansas. She can be found in the 1880 Federal census and the 1875 & 1885 Iowa State Census records. She died in 1889 in Howard, Elk, Kansas.

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