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Oklahoma Family Tree Stories

This beautiful sculpture of three redbud trees with gold and silver leaves by artist Robin Starke is located just outside the Eleanor & John Kirkpatrick Research Center in the Oklahoma History Center. Each leaf of the "Oklahoma Family Tree" memorializes an Oklahoma family with the family surname, first name(s), and the town or county where they lived. In addition, a short family history will be preserved in the digital family history book at the base of the tree. This is a great way for your family to make history and benefit future generations at the same time. To find out how to honor your own family with a leaf visit the Oklahoma Family Tree Project page.

Goodwin Family

L. A. Goodwin was born in 1884 in San Antonio, Texas, and moved with his family to Quanah, Texas, around 1891. Amy Josephine Cobb was born in 1886 in Rochester, Missouri. In 1903, she moved with her family to Olustee, Oklahoma Territory, where her father managed bridge building for the Frisco Railroad Company. As Josephine stepped off the train, L. A. caught a glimpse of her. He promptly told a friend that she was the prettiest girl he had ever seen and vowed to marry her one day. L. A. carried through on his promise and married Josephine on December 20, 1905.

L. A. and Josephine were farmers and, like many of their contemporaries, struggled to make ends meet. The couple had five children and lived in a half dugout. L. A. sold wire for fences while Josephine baked bread for other settlers. In 1906 they participated in a land auction in Tillman and Comanche Counties and secured several properties. They eventually sold their land and used the profits to return to Jackson County to buy their first small farm near Baucum, where L. A. built a small house. In 1910 they bought a farm next to Olustee and opened their first small dairy. In 1915 L. A. traveled to Wisconsin, where he bought three heifers and a bull for shipment to Oklahoma.

In 1918 the family moved to Altus, where L. A. began his first large dairy in partnership with George Blair of Olustee. In 1924 they bought land just west of Altus and opened the first modern dairy in southwestern Oklahoma. In the 1940s L. A. sold the operation to Steffens Dairy. L. A. and Josephine eventually owned farms in Jackson County (several of which are still being farmed by the Goodwin family today), Hammond County, and grazed cattle on Indian leased land near Cache.
Goodwin family lore includes the story of Josephine racing home with the children in a buggy as a tornado whipped at their heels and a humorous exchange when their oldest daughter decided she would have to feed her baby brother to the pigs.

The Goodwins have always been sports fans and have been well represented at OU football games, both home and away. Returning home by train after an away game, Josephine fell and broke her hip. After a panel was removed from the train to retrieve the stretcher, a doctor told her she would never walk again. Josephine would not hear of it and kept on walking for another twenty years. Although Josephine stopped driving many years before she died, L. A. bought her a new Cadillac every Mother's Day. Typically, he used the old one on the farm. He often put newborn calves in the back seat!

Although the Goodwins lived in several places during their early lives together, they never left Oklahoma. Even as dust storms raged in the 1930s, they were successful and exerted influence in their communities. L. A. loaned people money when local banks would not, and most of them paid him back. All of their children were born in Olustee. The Goodwins were honest, hardworking, dependable people whose word meant everything and a handshake was binding.

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