Goff Family Creativity


The Crimson 1905 Source: Kentucky Genealogical Society

The Kentucky Genealogical Society occasionally receives donated items of genealogical interest from its members and their families. These items often include ledgers, yearbooks, family group sheets and photos, just to name a few.

We review the items and try to find a “good home” where they can be made available and preserved for future family researchers.

A few years ago, we received a 1905 Kentucky University (KU) yearbook. This university later became the current Transylvania University, known locally as “Transy.”

Transy is a small liberal arts college in Lexington, Kentucky and happens to be my daughter’s alma mater.

While reviewing the yearbook, I noticed a photo of a senior student named Carolyn Goff, (1883-1965). My first thought was: “Could this student be related to Thomas Goff of Winchester, Kentucky?”

Thomas Goff was one of the Four Goff Brothers of Western Virginia. These brothers – James Goff, John Turton Goff, Thomas Goff, and Salathiel Goff – were probably born in England or Wales. They emigrated sometime in the mid-1700s and settled in Virginia and Maryland. I descend directly from John Turton Goff, my 5th great grandfather, who lived in Maryland, West Virginia, and Ohio. Since I have very few Kentucky ancestors, finding the answer to my question about Carolyn’s relationship to (possibly) Thomas Goff fascinated me.

So, I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. The answer to my question was YES! Carolyn was related to Thomas Goff of the Four Goff Brothers, with Thomas being her 2nd great grandfather. I wanted to know more about Carolyn and her family.

Carolyn Goff  Source: Kentucky University Crimson Yearbook 1905

The 1905 yearbook provided the following information on Carolyn. She was the art editor of The Crimson (KU yearbook) for 1905, was sometimes known as the KU football girl, a native of the Bluegrass region, and had entered KU in 1899. She also represented KU in the state college play “The Girl and the Goose.”

In addition to KU, Carolyn attended Chevy Chase College and Seminary in Washington, D.C. Newspaper articles stated she studied voice under Thomas Evans Greene in Washington. Mr. Greene’s wife, Katie Wilson-Greene, was a concert master at the White House. Carolyn was a soloist at the inauguration of our 27th President, William Howard Taft and a soloist at the opening of the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington. She was a regular member of the White House guest list for “music teas” given by Mrs. Woodrow Wilson. A newspaper article noted that “Carolyn was a contralto voice from a fine old county family of wealth and a long line of ancestry.”

Carolyn married Henry Timberlake Duncan (a two-term mayor of Lexington) and lived in Mentelle Park, an upscale neighborhood in Lexington. This subdivision was originally part of the Mentelle estate. Madame Charlotte Victorie (LeClerc) Mentelle ran a finishing school where the curriculum concentrated on French and literature. Mary Todd attended the Mentelle finishing school as a young lady prior to becoming the wife of Abraham Lincoln.

Carolyn, her husband Henry, and their children lived in Lexington until 1925. About that time, Carolyn and the children moved to Tucson, Arizona due to Carolyn’s health. They resided there for about 10 years.

On her death, Carolyn’s funeral was held in Lexington at the Christ Episcopal Church and she is buried in the historic Lexington Cemetery. I was curious if Carolyn had any siblings, and if so, did they possess artistic talents such as Carolyn did?

Lexington College of Music  Source: Google Maps

Her older sister was Anna Chandler Goff, (1873-1952). Anna also graduated from KU and the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Anna played the piano, violin, and pipe organ. After her schooling, she was the founder of the Lexington College of Music.

Anna organized the first concert series in Lexington in 1918. She brought many musical stars, orchestras, and ballets to Lexington. Anna was acquainted with great opera stars and also brought in well-known celebrities like Will Rogers.

At times, her brother and sister taught at her music college and her parents lived with her at the college during their later years.

Anna assisted in organizing the Kentucky State Music Teachers Association and served two years as president. She was active in a number of society organizations such as the Lexington Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

Anna Chandler Goff  Source: Music America

Anna never married. She is buried in the Winchester Cemetery in Winchester, Kentucky. Carolyn and Anna had one brother, Sudduth Goff, (1887-1965). He was the youngest of the siblings.

Sudduth was an athlete in track and baseball at Morton High School in Lexington and was named to the state all-star baseball team. At KU he played on the baseball and football teams. He served in the Navy during WWI.

Sudduth received a scholarship to the Cincinnati Art Academy/Duveneck School where he studied at their Museum of Fine Arts for seven years. Frank Duveneck was a famous painter and sculptor who studied throughout Europe and returned to Covington, Kentucky as the dean of the school.

Sudduth Goff; Source: The Kentucky Review

In the 1920s, Sudduth was an associate director of the Louisville School of Art and later became the director of the Louisville School of Painting and Drawing. In 1927, he moved to Chicago to open an art gallery and he remained there until November 1940 when he moved his studio to New York City. In the mid-1950s he moved back to Louisville.

Sudduth painted landscapes but was better known for his formal portraits painted in oil. In a note to a family member, he listed memberships that meant the most to him. They were: Who’s Who in American Art; Who’s Who in the East; Who’s Who in Kentucky; and Membership at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York.

Sudduth’s portrait work can be found in the Capitol at Frankfort, Kentucky; the Lexington (KY) Public Library; the University of Kentucky; and the University of Tennessee.

These portraits of his parents, Thomas Goff and Mary Suddeth Goff, hang in the genealogy area of the Lexington Public Library.

Sudduth’s funeral service was held at the Broadway Christian Church in Lexington, and he is buried in the Winchester Cemetery.

I could go on about the talent and creativity of the Goff family and this makes me ponder the question: Is creativity in our DNA? I guess this is a question to research another day.


Portrait of Mary Suddeth Goff located in Lexington, Kentucky Public Library; Source: Kathy McCann Keyser

Portrait of Thomas Goff located in Lexington, Kentucky Public Library; Source: Kathy McCann Keyser





















Editor’s Note: If you’d like to learn more about yearbooks and the promise they offer for research, be sure to register for Using Yearbooks for Family History with Jim Cundy.


Lexington Public Library, Central Library, 140 E. Main Street, Lexington, Kentucky.

Lexington to Have the Most Brilliant Musical Season of Its History.” Music America – Fall Issue. 10 November 1928. Pg. 112.

National Park Service. Mentelle Park, Lexington, Kentucky. “Social = Personal”. Lexington Herald-Leader. 13 March 1914. pg. 8. “Mrs. Mary Sudduth Goff”.The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky). 20 February 1931. pg. 3. “Miss Goff Dies; Services Set On Wednesday”. The Lexington Herald. 10 June 1952. pgs. 1, 10. “Artist Sudduth Goff Dies; Best Known for Portraits”. Lexington Herald-Leader. 8 February 1965. pgs. 1, 14. “Services Set Saturday for Mrs. Duncan”. Lexington Herald-Leader. 2 April 1965. pgs. 1, 10.

Transylvania University Library Yearbook Collection of the Crimson

Goff-Gough Family Association.

Kentucky University 05., 1905. Kentucky Genealogical Society.

Find a Grave.

Birchfield, James D. (2003) “Sudduth Goff, Artist: A Preliminary Record,”The Kentucky Review: Vol. 15: No. 2, Article 9.

About the Author

<h3><a href="" target="_self">Kathy M Keyser</a></h3>

Kathy M Keyser

Kathy McCann Keyser, a native of southern West Virginia, resides in Central Kentucky with her husband, and has been researching her family history for 40+ years. Kathy belongs to a number of family, genealogical, and historical societies in Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. She has written articles and developed presentations on her family and Kentucky history. She currently co-leads a genealogy interest group for the Goff-Gough Family Association. Now retired after working 45 years in corporate America, she currently serves the Kentucky Genealogical Society as Co-President.

Follow Us


Upcoming Events

Get Our Newsletter

Recent Posts

Using Littell’s Law Books for Tracing Early Kentucky Genealogy

Using Littell’s Law Books for Tracing Early Kentucky Genealogy

Littell's Law Books contain rich details about what our ancestors were doing in the early years of Kentucky.

You May Also Enjoy

Become a Member

Whether you are just starting out in your journey or are so experienced that librarians and record clerks know you by name, we offer Kentucky resources and support you can’t get anywhere else.