migration to Colorado

Nora Ward Goens of Wilson, Indianapolis, Denver and San Diego.

I recently happened upon the death certificate of Nora Goens, who died 3 November 1935 in Merrill, Newaygo County, Michigan, north of Grand Rapids. Per her death certificate, she was born in Wilson, North Carolina; lived in Denver, Colorado; and was buried in Danville, Illinois.

Though it’s still not clear why she died in Michigan, available digital records do shed some light on Goens’ peripatetic life and, surprisingly, link her to another Wilson migrant — Dr. Joseph H. Ward!

On 6 February 1894, Nora Ward, 21, daughter of B.H. Ward and Sallie Forbes, married Eugene Goins, 22, son of Lewis Goins and Edna Martin, in Indianapolis, Indiana. [Henry Ward (recorded elsewhere as B.H. and as Edwin H.), son of D.G.W. Ward and Sarah Darden, married Sarah Forbes, daughter of Henry Forbes, in 1870 in Wilson. Henry Ward was the brother of Joseph H. Ward’s mother Mittie R. Ward. Joseph Ward arrived in Indianapolis around 1890. Did he join or precede his uncle’s family?]

In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 1504 Arthur Street, janitor Eugene Goins, 27, and wife Nora, 27.

Within the next decade, the Goenses migrated further west to Colorado. In the 1910 census of Denver, Denver County: at 2230 Cal. Street, among other families, apartment janitor Eugene Goens, 36, and wife Nora, 36. Eugene reported that he was born in Ohio to parents from Virginia and Kentucky. Nora was born in North Carolina to North Carolina-born parents. The couple had been married 16 years, and Nora reported that she had had one child, who was dead. [Thirteen years later, after divorcing her first husband, Nora’s first cousin Minerva Ward Artis (Joseph Ward’s half-sister) married Jonas Biggins in Denver. Had Minerva come west to stay with the Goenses?]

2230 California Street, Denver. Courtesy of apartments.com.

Nora Goens’ mother-in-law Edna Martin Goens Wright died in Denver in 1919. Her body was taken to Castalia, Ohio, for burial. Norris Wright was Eugene Goens’ half-brother. Norris was born in Sandusky, Ohio, in 1888, and the Wrights moved to Indianapolis before 1900.

Sandusky Star Journal, 5 December 1919.

In the 1920 census of Denver, Colorado: at 2230 California Street, among other families, Eugene Goens, 46, apartment janitor, and wife Nora, 46, janitress.

Though I have not found record of Nora’s early life, she had at least one sister. Mattie L. Robinson died 12 March 1921 in Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois. Per her death certificate, Mattie Robinson was born 16 September 1884 in Wilson, N.C., to Henry Ward and Sallie Forbes; was married to J.W. Robinson; and was buried in Springhill Cemetery, Danville. [More about Mattie to come.]

The Goinses made a long, looping excursion in 1928, spending considerable time in Xenia, Ohio. Their weekend hosts Joseph T. and Addie Artis Rountree were natives of Wilson. Mrs. Fred Cosby — Ardeaner Rountree Cosby — was the Rountrees’ daughter and was also born in Wilson.

Xenia Evening Gazette, 7 July 1928.

Xenia Evening Gazette, 16 November 1928.

In the 1930 census of Denver, Colorado: at 609-26th Street, Eugene Goins, 39, and wife Nora, 37.

In February 1934, the Goinses were again back East and were honored guests at dinner hosted by the S.S. Club of Xenia.

Xenia Evening Gazette, 27 February 1934.

In the 1935 San Diego, California, city directory: Goens Eug (Nora) h2874d Franklin Av. [Nonetheless, Eugene Goens reported his and his wife’s residence as Denver on her death certificate.]

As noted above, Nora Ward Goens died 3 November 1935. She was buried near her sister in Block 26 of Vermilion County’s enormous Springhill Cemetery.