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Godden, Thomas 1840-1887


Posted By: S. Ferrall - IAGenWeb volunteer
Date: 12/4/2014 at 18:29:59

Elkport, Iowa, March 30, 1887 - Thomas Godden, a well known citizen of Elk township was found dead in Elk creek, at Mitchell's ford, about two miles south of this place, this morning. At this time it is not known how he came to his death, whether by drowning or freezing. His team was saved after being in the creek all night. G.K.

The above dispatch received at this office yesterday noon is all we have yet been able to learn of this sad affair, but will have further particulars next week. On Tuesday, Mr. Godden was in Elkader and paid his taxes, and also called at our office. He remained in our office, having a social visit until about five o'clock when he left for his home in Elk township. We have known Mr. Godden for several years, and have always found him to be an honest, upright man and a good citizen, whose death we shall long mourn.

~Elkader Weekly Register, March 31, 1887

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On Wednesday morning, March 30, at 6:30 a.m. James Wooldridge discovered a dead body and a team in the water of Elk creek close to Dennis Mitchel's residence about two miles south of Elkport. Mr. Wooldridge gave the alarm and upon examination it was found to be the body of Thomas Gooden who resided at Otisville. Mr. Gooden had been to Elkader on business the previous day and returned to East Elkport about 9 o'clock in the evening and remained there until after midnight. He finally started for home and when he had got about two miles south of elkport he commenced to wander around in the bottom lands of Elk creek. In some way he fell out of his sleigh and was draggd over the frozen ground and rocks, cutting his hand in a terrible manner, and by some way got in the creek. One arm was fast in the spring seat and his face was out of water. The most of his body was under water and frozen in the ice. One of his horses was unhitched from the sleigh but was standing in the water. The other horse which was still hitched to the sleigh was covered with water except his head. The ice was frozen around both horses and had to be broken with axes before the team could be taken out.

Mr. Gooden was taken to his home and Coroner Cain was summoned who held an inquest over the remains. The jury were Chas. Hagensick of Elkader, Chas. Laxson and Fred Solls of Elkport. The jury returned a verdict that deceased died by accident the exposure in the waters of Elk creek.

It is rumored that he was intoxicated the night he perished.

The funeral occurred Friday, April 1st, Rev. E.L. McNamee having charge of the ceremony. The remains were laid away in the Mount Harmony cemetery. He leaves a wife and nine children, to mourn his loss. The family have the sympathy of the entire community.
Wm. Gooden of Janesville, Wis. was here last week attending the funeral of his brother Thomas.

~Clayton County Journal, April 6, 1887 (Elk township column)

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Last Wednesday our citizens were startled by the report that a man and team were in Elk creek near Mitchel's ford, about two miles south of town, that the man was dead but the team was alive but could not get out. A large number of our citizens were soon at the place of accident and found Thomas Godden dead and his team standing in water nearly up to their backs. The facts as near as we are able to obtain them are these:

He left Tuesday morning for Elkader to pay his taxes and returned from there some time Tuesday evening; he passed through west Elkport at a few minutes before twelve; he crossed the ford and drove about a quarter of a mile further south - his team being on the wrong road, they turned around and went through a ditch about eight feet deep; here Mr. Godden was thrown out and somewhat hurt; he recrossed the ditch and for some unaccountable reason he returned to Mitchel's ford and it seems that when he got into the ford he tried to turn around but instead drove about twenty feet down the creek into deep water where he could not get out. In this condition he and his team remained all night. He perished but his team was rescued. The coroner was sent for and an inquest was held.

Mr. Godden was a well known and highly respected citizen of Elk township. He leaves a wife and five children to mourn his loss. He was buried Friday, a large concourse of people attending the funeral. Rev. McNamee, of Colesburg, officiating.

Card of Thanks
We desire to express our thanks through the columns of the Register to all kind friends who in any way assisted us in our late bereavement of husband, father and brother.
Mrs. Thos. Godden and family

Coroner's Inquest
At an inquisition held at Otisville, Elk township, Iowa, upon the body of Thomas E. Godden, on March 30th, 1887, before J.W. Cain, coroner, the following jurors were chosen, to-wit: Charles Hagensick, F.H. Soll and C.M. Laxson, who, together with the coroner examined the body and surroundings, and heard the testimony of the following witnesses:

Rhoda Godden, being duly sworn deposes and says:
I am the wife of Thomas Godden; my husband would have been 45 years old the 20th of April. He was born in England, and had resided here about twenty years. He left home yesterday (Tuesday) morning to pay his taxes in Elkader and was in fair health. I knew nothing of his whereabouts until this morning when somebody told me he was dead.

James Wooldridge, sworn, says:
My age is 19 years. This morning I went to Soyster's; went down to the ford and saw a team frozen in; saw somebody in the water, but did not know who it was; went up to Mr. Mitchell's and down to Mr. McMorrow's, and came back with Mr. McMorrow's folks and helped to take the horses out of the water. Deceased was in the water excepting head and one arm was over the back of the spring seat. Dr. Taft was there and helped take the body out. One horse was hitched to the sleigh and one was behind, loose.

Besides the above witnesses, Dr. Taft, George Wooldridge, John McMorrow, Chas. Soyster, Frank Kiefer and Harmon Jennings were examined and testified to substantially the same as regards the finding and position of the body and horses. Dr. Taft gave it as his opinion that deceased was chilled to death. After hearing the evidence the jury rendered the following verdict:

An inquisition held in Elk township, in Clayton county, on the 30th day of March, 1887, before J.W. Cain, coroner of said county, upon the body of Thomas E. Godden, there lying dead by the jurors whose names are hereto subscribed; the said jurors upon their oaths do say that deceased died by being chilled to death through exposure and exhaustion in Elk creek.
C.M. Laxson
F.H. Soll
A.C. Hagensick
Subscribed to and sworn to in my presence this 30th day of March, A.D., 1887
J.W. Cain, Coroner

~Elkader Weekly Register, April 7, 1887 (Elkport column)

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Last week Tuesday, T.E. Godden, of Elkport, Clayton county, on his way home from Elkader, stopped in the saloon of Peter Flaherty, at East Elkport, loaded himself with liquor, and then started home but he never got there alive. Too drunk to know where he was going, he drove through the stream and an old mill race without a bridge, became chilled through and in the morning was found frozen in the ice - dead - another murdered victim of the saloons. A correspondent says, "Coroner Cain was summoned. He empaneled a jury of three as follows: Chas. Hagensick, of Elkader; Chas. Laxson and S. Fred Soll, of Elkport, who, after hearing the evidence, returned a verdict that he came to his death by accident exposure by falling into Elk creek. Even the worst whisky men denounce the verdict as an outrage on order and decency and the people will not submit to such mock justice."

That is only one of the many outrages the saloon power has inflicted on Clayton county, only a repetition of whisky murders winked at by the democratic party in power in that county.

~Clayton County Journal, Wednesday, April 13, 1887 (reprinted from the Waukon Standard editorial column)

Note: T.E. Godden served during the Civil War in the 8th Regiment, U.S. Infantry, Regular Army. He is buried in Mt. Harmony cemetery.


Clayton Obituaries maintained by Sharyl Ferrall.
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