John and Polly Goss…family news 1816 to 1819 and the breaking up of a marriage…A study of letters.

John Goss announced a separation from Polly Goss…

John Goss appears in this book: “Ohio Divorces The Early Years” by Carol Willsey Bell p. 44. This book is not available online for viewing because the copyright is about 1994. The transcription reads:

The following is a direct Transcription of what is contained in that publication concerning John Goss and Polly: (—–Goss, John vs. Polly,) Portage Co. 1818.” Elopement; my wife Polly has left my bed and board without provocation; no debts John Goss”, Randolph (Warren, Oh: Western Reserve Chronicle, 1 January, 1818)

The Western Reserve Chronicle is online from 1855 to 1920, we need 1818 so that means finding an archive that has the older newspapers in order to see the total article. Until I see this entry or the actual divorce papers we can only determine that he announced the separation in the newspapers.

Several letters to Pennsylvania

In the letters that follow information about what is happening in the family of Ebenezer Goss and John Goss might shed light on events in 1816 and other years.  I have highlighted what I think is relevant to John and Polly’s relationship but you might interpret it differently.

In 1816 John Goss writes to his brother Nathaniel Goss in Luzerne Co., PA. Several individual cousins have tried to transcribe this letter.

Randolph June the 5, 1816 – Very difficult to read this letter. Here is a copy for you to give it a try.

John Goss 1816 of Portage Co. to Nathaniel Goss Jr. in Huntington

Dear Brother

I would inform you that I am yet alive and able to walk about. I wrote to you that I should come and see you which I hope to do when ever I can.

I have had a lame leg this some months which is one cause of my not coming I have a sore ____on my knee so that I could neither walk nor ride.

I have thought that I was danger of losing the use of my leg, but it is much better so that I can work a little but as fortune would have it Minerva fell from a horse and hurt her self and has been lame for about three weeks but is getting better fast. Never mind that that Polly was sick the most of the time while Minerva was lame and the children had bad Colds, but Mrs. Gofs has a fillen on her thumb which think will be a line topur of that’s and some other trifling things in the cause of my not coming but this writer please to satisfy my aged Mother as well as can and suppose she expected me.

I wrote some time ago but have had accounts from yur Philip Dudden was here a few days ago from Mosses Lawrence.  He brought news to me that — Scott was dead  Perhaps you have heard the same unhappy news. The rest of our friends were well.  Hannah is as well as she ___ Uncle and family wel.  This such as —-and will be wrote some dead and others well. But that must — it has been some sickly here this fall. For my part I have as much as I can turn to. To keep as favourable account for my self and what can do for others. 

I expect you have great and little Aaron Culver to see you in a short time. He wants some of Fathers Land deeded to William White . He came to see me on the Subject

Hannah and I gave him a line leaving at your discretion what to do. I feel willing that Father’s will should be fulfilled at any time and all times.What Culver’s views are I cannot tell. Please to do what you think best as far as I wrote and God Bless Every body.

Please to give my respects to Horace Preston. I should write to him at this time but the man is waiting that takes this to the office . I will send one some, tell him that we have a good gristmill now running on the Cayahoga , where the East and West road crosses it in Randolph. I think it will do well . This is good news. The things are well a for as I know.

I want to come and see Huntington and its inhabitants once more God willing. I think you will have work to read this. This fear on one hand they groan and on the other they cry and see is Polly up the ladder and Polly down the latter and not much peace hear. I think I never knew a family that had much sickness as mine and all keep a breathing. 

John Goss

This letter implies that he and Polly are still together in 1816, I believe. it does indicate that things are difficult with the sickness and his poor health. It is nice to get the news of the others and I will revisit this in later posts.


There was a letter written by Ebenezer Goss to Mr. Nathaniel Goss 31 October 1819. This letter was published by Paul H. Goss in his manuscript the Goss Family. Here is Paul’s version with his comments:

Paul H. Goss’s version from his manuscripts page 1

Paul H. Goss Version from his manuscripts. page 2

Paul H. Goss Version from his manuscripts. Page 3

Here is the letter as best I can intrepret:

            Mr. Nathaniel Gofs                             Huntington

            Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.


            Randolph                                            October 31, 1819

“Dear Nephew

            These lines are to inform you that we are all well that is living. Hoping that they will find you & the rest of my friends.

            I received your letter above dated August 20, which informed me of your welfare which I was glad to hear-

            I lost my wife the 9th, of July last. She was taken with the fever & ague & continued with it abouve five or six weeks & was apparently better & the disentary set in & she continued about a week and died.  We had two of the best doctors in our parts to no purpose—

            I have always thought of going to see you & the rest of my friends, in your parts till lately.  I am troubled with the (pois) to that degree I can’t ride but very little & the travel a foot is worse.

            I live with David & expect to threw life.  He is married & has one son about fifteen months old.  Carver, Jr. married to Betsy Jennings and has one son.  Carver and Beder has bought each of them a farm about three miles from me.  Beder lives with Carver, not married All well.  Hannah Allen & Family are well & Common Polly Jennings and her husband have moved to the falls of Ohio.  Mo. (Moses) Givens come here last fall & moved them down.  Rhoda went with them.  Sally lives with David.

            Dear Sir, I can console with you, tho at a great distance, of the great trouble you are at, to take care of my mother in her old age & was it in my power, I would take her myself.  Again it appears to me that the rest of the others should help support her, which I have not heard of their doing.  I heard Brother Seward had refused & I never heard what arrangement had been made for her support formerly.  Please to remember & my family to all forgiving friends.  Especially to your mother & mine.  Please to write the first & every opportunity.  So I remain your effectionate uncle.

                                                            Ebenezer Gofs

Nathaniel Gofs

Page 2 of Ebenezer Goss letter


            Your brother John is well as common & his family.  They are scattered about.  Minerva is married.  Ormand lives with David.  His mother lives with Minerva, which has been one of the greatest speculations, the cause of her leaving him that ever has been in these parts.  She told me that she thought it was wicked to live with him—It would take a volume of 300 pages to contain all the manuvers.  She cut with him 4 or 5 years before they parted.”

Here is a letter from Polly Goss herself and a response of some sort, it looks like. It is very difficult to read. They would frequently write on all 1/2 pages and flip the letter over. I might not have this in the correct order.

Polly Goss Letter page 2

PollyGoss pg 1

Mr. Nathaniel Goss


State of Pennsylvania

County of Luzerne

Honored Sir with due thanks and gratitude I still remember your kind attention and assistance on our journey here I wish you to write to me if you see fit though not by the part for I should never ______be able to procure it should I offer my self for ____of all _____are not high in this part of the country and if the slave trade was good they would not I suppose ye purchase accept there _____hope of their labour & seldom hear from you I met with _____any proof about of years since from your brother I _______ask about his letters John seams well ______days he leaves his lawman ______  I ____to give my respects to Thankful and family. I am ___with due respect.  Yours &/c ——————————-Polly Goss

Randolph August ____1819 Honoured Madam, Not through forgetfulness have I neglected writing to you But I had as I thought nothing as to ______that would be very agreeable to thee and _____time would give a_____agreeable opportunity but as I think purchases it will ______agreeable to thee I suppose only _______complement would I be as vain to thee as to me my Children are well ______I know except Ormond I hear he _____it is very sickly here since the _____have been ______for me to say much would he purchase ___vain I trust we soon shall meet ___________Wisdom where truth ________

Falsehood none can call. The ____is mortality which often sounds in ______and what is the call to us less than this be ye also nearly _____such an have as ye think not the Maxton may all. Polly Dies last now _______Minerva ______lost her babe last March, Aunt ____died about 5 week since to. Please to present my respects to Grandma Mary Goss also to ______pan and Mr. Scott likewise to Rhody and family and enquiring friends….John is well as to my self I have bean able to work but little for better than three years I have more strength this year ____but it Is very small part of the time I can work now ______

I am not even able to earn my bread I am Madam with due Respect Yours &c Polly Goss Wishing you to write if you see fit

In Summary:  These letters are very difficult to read because of the handwriting, the strange old terminology, and misspellings also make it difficult to understand. They would fill all pages of the paper, writing on one half then flipping the paper over and the first half and then the 2nd half of the 2nd page and then flip back or in some crazy order.

John Goss to Nath 1816 an actual copy of a page of the original letter so you can see the condition.

There is a lot of information in these letters about various family and friends. I will revisit them in future posts when I share about these people. My husband thinks that the word “pois” used by Ebenezer is referring to his extra digits giving him trouble. He is using the plural.

I do not know if there are more letters than I was given. I have about 4. I was told that they were with the Gearhart family in Pennsylvania and where to be given to an archive, but I have not heard since about 2009 or so what the situation is. If anyone knows anything, I would be most

About BJ MacDonald

Interested in travel, really into genealogy and researching my family history, classic novels and movies, fantasy and science fiction, photography, history and more... Here is a tip. Make sure you are commenting on the blog you were visiting and the post you were interested in. My blogs are listed by hovering over my pictures and clicking. Clicking one of them will take you back to the correct blog. You can try me here:
This entry was posted in Huntington Twp., John Goss and Mary "Polly" Davidson, Luzerne County, Nathaniel Goss and his wife Hannah Scott, Portage County and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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