Early Orlando Patriarch
by David Parmer
His tombstone in the Orlando Cemetery silently testifies to his longevity: 1835-1912. His many descendants are further testimony to his memory in the Oil Creek valley. During his early years, David Newton Godfrey was known as “Newt” or “Newton.” However, he usually signed his name as “D. N. Godfrey.” By whatever name, David Newton Godfrey was a respected and well-known member of the early community in the Oil Creek Valley.
Newt came to Oil Creek when, just before the Civil War, he married Mary Jane, the daughter of Alexander and Phoebe (Conrad) Skinner.
Jane brought to her marriage to John Newton Godfrey three daughters by her earlier marriage to Alexander Curtis. Together Jane and J. N. Godfrey had four boys.
Besides Newt and his sister Christina, only one other sibling stayed in the area. Their brother William Jackson Godfrey married Sarah McCord and they lived in the Roanoke area.
The other four of the seven siblings went west: two of the sisters and one brother. Emily, Susannah and Michael migrated to the little farm community of Prairie in Hancock County, Illinois, near the Mississippi River. Sisters Emily and Susannah Curtis married Rohrboughs. Emily, born around 1820 married George Rohrbaugh, born about 1792 and Susannah, born around 1823 married George’s son Adam Rohrbaugh, born around 1828. Their young brother Michael Godfrey was in Hancock County in 1850, according to that year’s census.
A second brother also migrated west. Edward Jasper Godfrey settled in the railroad town of El Reno, in the center of Oklahoma.
The transcription of the message of the postal card is as follows:
“Dear Uncle and family,
Here is the photo you have heard about. Am so sorry they are poorly finished, yet the features are very natural. Mother appreciated the token of love you sent her. My uncles wish you could come see us. Mother is in her natural health. Gets out driving on nice days. When you can find time write her a long letter. She loves to hear from her loved ones. She dreads the dreary days of winter, is so shut in. Give her love and regards to all the friends and relatives. She joins with me in wishing you joy and success.
Lovingly, May A. Miller”
Left: the house that D. N. Godfrey built, shortly before it was dismantled in 2008.
Right: D. N. Godfrey's hewn log granery
Comment by Burlen Henline
When I was a young boy, I lived in Doddridge County with my parents, Frank and Audrey Henline. Every summer I looked forward to coming to Orlando to visit my grandmother, Semantha Henline, my Uncle Heaterhuck Henline, my Aunt Clora Henline and my cousin Opal Jeffries who lived across Oil Creek from the family of Tom Godfrey. Tom was the son of Newt and Mary Jane Godfrey.
Tom had a potato patch down Oil Creek near the home of Newt Henline and he and his wife Biddie [Biddie is a nickname for Bridgit -ed] would walk down to the potato patch, with hoes over their shoulders, during evenings to hoe weeds. Tom would frequently stop to talk to me and was always very friendly. From time to time Tom would tell me about his children, most of whom had moved away for employment. Tom had a son Edward who lived in Parkersburg. I recall that Tom pronounced Edward’s name as “Edderd” and that he lived “way out on the border.” Referring perhaps to another of his children, I forget the name, Tom proudly announced that he was “walking on clouds in California.”