Another Goble murder…

Stephen P. Goble

Stephen Porter Goble, Stephen, senior’s son with his first wife, Elizabeth Brown. (1832-1866).

Stephen Goble and his first wife Elizabeth had, according to online trees, seven children. Sadly only one, a son, lived to adulthood and had a family of his own, Stephen Porter Goble, who was born in 1832. When Stephen senior died in 1889 his will left all his property to his 5 daughters (whom he had with his second wife Alice), clearly indicating that none of his son Stephen’s heirs were to receive a farthing:

Item 2nd — It is now considered by me that my deceased son Stephen P. Goble, having in his lifetime received his full share and proportion of my estate and assets, It is my wish and will that his heirs viz; the heirs of the said Stephen Goble, deceased, shall not inherit or have any part or portion whatever of my said estate, or of any estate or assets of which I may die seized.1

As one can see in the reading of the will, there was actually nothing nefarious going on, Stephen had already given Stephen Porter his share of the estate, probably when he had married. The fact that Stephen Porter’s heirs are mentioned instead of Stephen Porter himself also clearly indicates that his son had died previous to 1889, so of course I was curious as to why he had died before his father. The possibility of it having happened during the civil war was pretty high as he was of an age to have enlisted.

I found one online tree that had this to say regarding his passing: ‘met his death in 1866, by a shot fired from the gun of a trespasser.’…and that was it. All I could think was – ‘Seriously, that’s all you wrote? Weren’t you curious about the details?’ But this did give me a clue that he probably wasn’t killed in the war. The Goble family website has the following entry for Stephen Porter:

“Stephen Porter Goble died May 30, 1866. He and a farm hand were going through his farm on the lane when they saw a stranger walking through the wheat field. This would cause the wheat to be mashed down so that it could not be harvested. They called to the stranger who turned and shot Stephen P. Goble. The farm hand took Stephen on the farm sled to the house and a doctor was sent for. Stephen P. Goble died, leaving a wife, Frances S. (Ashburn) Goble, and three young children and a farm.”

The above story being shared by a descendant of Stephen Porter had been passed down for several generations through the family. However, thanks to the good old internet, and those great folks who are digitizing newspapers as fast as they can, here is the story as found in a Minnesota newspaper just days after the event3:

newspaper_goblestephenjr_murder

At this time, I can find no record of the perpetrator of the crime having ever been caught.

This event is an interesting and excellent example of how family stories change over the years, where the basics of the story turn out to be mostly true, but the details get all muddied up at each telling.

The murder of his son and the loss of 6 children with his first wife, were not the only devastating things to happen to the family. I caught this horrible bit of news in an 1885 paper:

The house of Stephen Goble, near New Richmond, O., was destroyed by fire.4

Who knows what precious heirlooms were lost to the family. Thankfully no lives were. So, we can be relieved that this wasn’t a Goble doing the murdering, but a Goble getting murdered. Although I am sure Stephen Porter would have preferred to have not been the subject of this gruesome post.


  1. Will probated April 10, 1889, Wills of Clermont County, Ohio, 1800-1915, Book P, p. 512-517 [image on FHL digital images of these wills is 303-305 of 669].
  2. Told to Jean E. (Coddington) Bogart by her mother Marguerite (Frey) Coddington and her Aunt Dorothy E. (Frey) Lanter.  Goble family website
  3. A Horrible murder…, Taylors Falls Reporter, June 2, 1866, page 23, col. 4; Stillwater, Minnesota weekly.
  4. Newark Daily Advocate, Saturday, September 5, 1885, Newark, Ohio, page 1, column 7.
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