head view photo
Wm. P. Goff
Racine Journal, Burl (68K)
View Goff
newspaper items

1864 Burlington Tax Assessment Roll
William Peck Goff was the son of Stephen and Persis Bates Goff. He was born on 19 February 1819 at Savoy, Berkshire Co., Mass., and married 29 May 1844 to Lovisa Whitman at North Adams, Mass.1 Marriage Intentions. They lived for a time at Winchester, Kansas briefly before moving to Wisconsin,2 about 1845.3 Lovisa died 7 February 1859 on their farm in Yorkville, Racine Co., Wisconsin with burial in the Yorkville town cemetery, near state highway 20, lot 69, block 6, along with daughters Francis and Clara.

His parents are Stephen Goff and Persis Bates Goff (He born in Rehoboth, Mass. and she in Mass.).4,5 The 1820 census for the town of Savoy, Berkshire, Co. shows; Stephen Goff, a male under 12, a male over 45, and a female 26-45.


William Peck Goff and Lovisa had four children before her death:

  • +1) William James Goff, born 18 August 1846 in Yorkville. He married on 13 November 1872, Emma Jane Ball in Burlington, Wis. He died 12 September 1909 in Rockford, Ill.
  • 2) Francis Lucinda, born 24 May 1848 and died 7 September 1849.
  • 3) Clara Lovisa, born 29 April 1850 in Yorkville, she died of burns 14 March 1855.6
  • 4) Romanzo Whitman, born 27 July 1853 in Yorkville. He lived in Winchester,7 Kansas, and possibly Topeka.8

W. P. Goff remarried 6 March 1860 in Racine, Wis. to Jane Lytle, born 14 November 1824, in Salem, Mass. They had an adopted daughter Mary Karn Nellson. She married Albert H Marsland 19 February 1879 in Burlington (See article below).
He moved to Winchester with Jane in 1880 where she died in 15 June 1886.9

W P Goff Grave
In Winchester, KS.
He belonged to the Baptist Church in Yorkville and in Winchester.

W. P. Goff died 20 October 1894 in Winchester, Kansas.


Two news items appeared in the Milwaukee Sentinel. The issue for March 19, 1855, Page 2 Col. 3, describes the burn accident that caused the death of daughter Clara.10

"Sad Accident --- We learn that a sad and, fatal accident occurred in Yorkville, in this county on Wednesday afternoon last. About 1 O'clock, Mrs. Wm. Goff left her house to go to a spring about 20 rods distant, leaving in the house a little girl, five years old, and an infant. Mrs. Goff was absent only a few minutes, but on her return she found her little girl lying upon the floor with every shred of clothing burnt from her body. She lived in great agony about five hours, when death relieved her sufferings. She said she sat down on the stove hearth while her mother was absent and it is probable her clothes caught fire while in that position. -(Racine Advocate)."

The April 3, 1869 issue11 on page 1, Col. 2, has; "Western Patents- Portable Fence- W. P. Goff -- Yorkville, Wis." The patent document No. 88469 dated March 30, 1869, describes the features of a board fence that may be moved to a new location when desired. There are four figures on the document that illustrate the construction.

The Yorkville Tax Assessment Rolls for 1844-1852,12 show he owned 78 acres, described as 'W. ½ NW ¼ Sect. 7, Tn. 3, Range 21.' This property is located on Wisconsin Highway 20 at the southeast corner of the intersection where Highway 45 turns North. An 1853 map shows he also owned 40 acres just across the highway, north.13

The 16 May 1878 issue of the Waterford Post14 had: "Burlington... W. P. Goff represented Continental Insurance Company in house fire settlement." For 13 June 1879, "Local News... John H. Groat has recently purchased a new reaper of W. P. Goff, of Burlington."

And 6 March 1879, "Burlington...A NOVEL MARRIAGE -- THE NUPTIAL CEREMONY EX PARTE. A novel and romantic marriage took place in our village a few days since; the bridegroom residing in Washington County, Kan., and the bride in Burlington, Wis.; an intervening space of 700 miles between them, and yet the marriage ceremonies were performed to the entire satisfaction of all interested. The parties to the contract were Albert H. Marsland, son of our respected townsman Thomas Marsland, and Mary (Nelson) Goff, adopted daughter of W. P. Goff, also of Burlington.

"A paragraph of history connected with this transaction may be perused with interest by your numerous readers: Having emanated from vows long since given and exchanged, vows, of fidelity, pledging their faith one to the other, promising that some time in the near future to become one; therefore Albert, now residing in Kansas, being anxious for a final and speedy consummation of the marriage contract, and not situated so as to come in person, on or about 17th ult. appeared before the proper officer of his locality in Kansas, and made his wishes and desires known by filing an affidavit of his intentions to become the husband of the said Mary Goff; whereupon he assumed all the necessary obligations and responsibilities of a really wedded husband by promising to love, cherish and protect her in sickness and in health and forsaking all others would provide for and do by her in all things as commanded by the moral code and the laws of his adopted state, and the authority of the officer officiating, in the presence of suitable witnesses. Thus the Kansas part of the contract was complete, save the closing of the final recognition, which only awaited, in due form, the passage of the preliminaries through the rapid transit of the mails, for a full completion of the contract on the part of the bride at this end of the route, Therefore, some three days after the transmission of the necessary vouchers, they were received here by the prospective bride; whereupon all the friends here directly interested in the welfare and happiness of the contracting parties, assembled at the residence of W. P. Goff to witness the semi-nuptial ceremony on the part of the bride. The venerable Elder Orra Martin, of Spring Prairie, officiated; the bride acting in concert, promising, in unison with Albert at the other end of the route to become his loving, cherished and wedded wife until death should separate them; doing by him in all things as the laws of the two commonwealths require.

"The bride will leave in a few days to join her husband in his western home. The best wishes of a host of friends accompany the young couple on their voyage over the sea of matrimony...... Alibi." 15

On 20 November 1879, "Dover.. Among the motley assembly we noticed the familiar faces of... W. P. Goff... of Burlington." And on 5 February 1880, "Local News.. W. P. Goff of Burlington, was calling upon friends here yesterday afternoon." For 17 June 1880, "Burlington....Mr. Joseph Wackerman has purchased the agricultural machinery business of our old time friend W. P. Goff, and has entered actively into the requirements of the business."

"OBITUARY.. William P. Goff died of Bright's disease at Winchester, Kansas, Saturday morning, Oct. 20, 1894, at 5:00 o'clock, aged 75 years, 8 months and 1 day. The deceased was a native of Massachusetts. He was born at Savoy, Berkshire County, Feb. 19, 1819, and was a resident of that town until twenty years of age, when he moved to West Troy, N. Y. From whence he moved in spring of 1843 to Saratoga Springs, N. Y. He married Lovisa Whitman of North Adams, Mass., in 1844 and moved to Yorkville, Wis., in 1845, where he engaged in farming. Here he buried two daughters and his wife. In the spring of 1860 he again married, Jane Lytle, of Mt. Pleasant, Wis., and soon after moved to Burlington, Wis., where he engaged in the sale of agricultural implements."

Farm Implements Sold
June 4, 1874 Picture of Farmers taking delivery of
Reapers and Mowers sold by William P. Goff in
Burlington, Wisconsin.
In front of Exchange Hotel
on north side of Pine St, west of Chestnut St.

"ln the summer of 1880 he moved to Winchester, Jefferson county, Kansas, where he remained in business until his death. Here he buried his second wife in June, 1886. He became a Christian at the age of fourteen and united with the Baptist church at Savoy, Mass.; afterward with the Baptist church at Yorkville, Wis., and when the Baptist church of Winchester, Kansas was organized became an active member of that organization and remained so until death. He was known as an active business man, conscientious and upright in all his dealings and a fervent follower of his Lord and Master, Jesus Christ." 16

(The following was copied from a composition book given to me by Alice A. Belden Busker,)

cover page

Autobiography of Wm. P. Goff.

'Winchester, Feb. 29 - 91'

'A partial record of my life.. I was born Feb. 19 1819 in the town of Savoy Berkshire Co. Mass. Between the 13 & 14 years I gave my heart to the savior and united with the Baptist Church in said town where I remained until I was past 16 years old, when I left home to work on a farm and continued until near 20 years old, when I went to West Troy (NY.) which was my stopping place until the spring of 43. Then moved to Saratoga Springs. In 1844 I was married to Lovisa Whitman of North Adams, Berkshire Co. Mass.

'In 1845 we moved to Yorkville, Racine Co. Wis. In 1846 our oldest son was born and now lives in the Village of Honey Creek Wis. Next followed a daughter who was born in May 1848 but left us Sept. 7th 1849. In April 14 1850 God gave us another daughter but took her from us March 14 1855. Then on Feb. 14 1859 after sickness from Nov. 26 1858 she (wife Lovisa) passed over the dark river but was not afraid.

'I see that I passed over our youngest son R. W. Goff who was born to July 27 1853 who thank God is still with me. In March 6 1860.17 I was married to Jane Lytle and was permitted to spend many happy years with but in June 15 1886 the grim monster entered my dwelling and took her away. I forgot to mention that I and my first wife united with the Baptist Church in Yorkville Wis. Remained such until the Church was broken up by removals and death after which did not again unite with any other church organization until the organization of the first Baptist Church at Winchester Kan. Nothing further to add until I go to join my loved ones where there is no sick and no tears to wipe away and there hope to join all my loved ones never more to part. W. P. Goff.

'In looking over what I have written I see that I said nothing about my last wife's religion. She was brought up a strict Presbyterian and was a Christian of one of the best and the best step-mother that I ever knew as both my children will testify.'

(The following is also from the same book.)

'Copy of message written by W. P. Goff previous to his death October 20th 1894.'

'To my Children. Look this book through. Should it please God to Call me hence soon I want the following requests carried out as soon as convenient. First I think the sale at auction would be in order of all my personal effects Including the stock of Hardware, and the money raised to pay off some small debts as follows; Blacksmith bills to McDermott, Talcot and French. Also I owe the Independent of Oskaloosa, but how much I don't know. Then I owe Julia three dollars and thirty cents June 1 94. Perhaps I shall live to settle some of these accounts but it looks dark to me at present. There is something back on the place yet, somewhere from sixty to seventy dollars, which will depend upon what interest Mr. Genular (?) will except. I had two hundred dollars of him and have paid one hundred and ninety seven dollars. The amount of each payment with I will record in this book and my check books will show the same except two dollars for one End Gate. There will perhaps be some thing that you may want to keep, for instance one of you should have the Family Record which is also kept in both of my large Bibles. One for each of you. Of course the old one on top of the Wardrobe is the worst for wear but can be rebound with but small expense. I have a Tax Receipt on the place which will entitle me to a county deed next September and I will fix that so you can get the deed should I not be here. The key to your Mother's trunk is in the stand drawer in a box with her pocket book which I would like to have sent to Mary Marsland little daughter Jane which Mother named before she was born. Perhaps her trunk and contents had better go to James's folks. The key that unlocks the stand is the bureau key. I think there is enough personal to pay up every thing and something left unless I should have a large Dr. bill which I shan't if I can help it. I think the money I got of Mr. Genceler was in June 1889, you can find out at the bank. I don't know the exact date. You may have to go to the bank or Jno. Reynolds to get the date that I had the money of Mr. Genceler. I expect that he will be honest in this matter. I will place my Biography in this book which was written out months ago. It is now in the Bible. One of my check books is in the center drawer of the bureau one is in one of the drawers up at the stove. The Property should, with all the land and fruit, rent for seventy five or eighty dollars monthly in advance but the house wants some repairs as soon as a time can be made. Use the rest money for taxes and repairs as wanted but above all prepare for a change that awaits all and may we all finally gather together in the house of the Blessed is my daily Prayer. Commence on page 12 and look over or forward. There is some bed clothes in the old organ box in the smoke house but in what condition I don't know. There is a blue & white quilt that was your own Mother's and a large one that was your Step-Mother's and if your Boy wants them keep them and not sell them. In your Mother's trunk is her shawl and I think some under clothes which should go with the trunk. I believe there is some of her clothes still in one of the drawers. Perhaps the books and book case will sell for something but separate. The large album is Romanzo's as also the Large Looking Glass. Then there is the picture of North Adams and of Burlington. Perhaps you children would like to keep them. If so don't offer them for sale. Then there is the Mowing Picture where the two girls are recorded. Keep that, give that to James as he knew both the girls.'

(In the rear of this same book is a listing of accounts, plus the income and expenses from the estate as recorded by Romanzo Goff and dated Nov. 5th 1894. There also are portions excerpted from 'letters left at fathers' plus the following.)

'Memo made by W. J. Goff'

'1894 Oct. 4.. Saw David A. Wagner at Union Depot. He is in Real Estate Bus. employed by 'Gross'. 6 AM Left in Chair Car over Chic. & Alton. 7:20 Stop at Joliet, arr. Kansas City 10:25 AM. Leave 10:45 on K. C. St. Joe & B. to Leavenworth, arr. 11:25 AM. Stop over night at Nat'l. Hotel.

'Oct. 6 arr. at Winchester about Noon. Oct. 20 Father died at 5 this Morning. He went to sleep and died without a struggle. The funeral took place from the Christian Ch. in Winchester, Kan. Sunday P.M. at 2 o'clock. The Rev. H. F. Marshall officiating and the Odd Fellows conducted services at the Grave.

'Nov. 7, 1894.. left Leavenworth on Rock Island for Home. Nov. 8.. arrived Home.'

One of the last pages in the composition book has this:

'Certificate of Marriage' 'copied'. "This is to certify that William P. Goff of the town of Saratoga in the State of New York, and Lovisa Whitman of the town of Adams in the state of Massachusetts were joined together in Holy Matrimony on the Twenty Ninth day of May in the year of our Lord One thousand, Eight hundred and forty five. "In Presence of........... By Mr. Timothy Benedict Minister of the Lord"

'Inscribed on Tombstone, Winchester, Kansas, William P Goff Born in Savoy, Mass Feb. 19 1819', (Opposite side) 'Jane L Goff'

'Jane Lytle wife of Wm. P. Goff born in Salem, NY. Nov. 14, 1824. Died June 15, 1886'

'For I know that my Redeemer liveth and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. Though after my death worms devour this body yet in my flesh shall I see God.. Job 19, 25 & 26.'


  1. Source (19), page 422.
  2. Source (20), Town of Yorkville, Racine, Co.
  3. Source (47), newspaper clipping.
  4. Source (29).
  5. Source (30).
  6. Source (6), 19 Mar. 1855.
  7. Source (47), newspaper clipping.
  8. Source (9), Monday 13 September 1909.
  9. Source (47), newspaper clipping.
  10. Source (6), 19 Mar. 1855.
  11. Source (6), 3 Apr. 1869.
  12. Source (21).
  13. Source (45).
  14. Source (11).
  15. Source (11), 6 March 1879.
  16. Source (34), 24 October 1894, page 2.
  17. Source (19), page 422.