John Godley (March 9, 1773 — 1826)

Elizabeth Stark (March 8, 1796 — After 1840)
Parents: Edward Godley and Hannah Mulford
Son: Jesse S. Godley

John Godley was an interesting character.

He was born on March 9, 1773 in Fauquier County in the then Colony of Virginia. In adjacent Culpepper County, his future wife, Elizabeth Stark, was born about five years later.[1]   They married on March 8, 1796 in Fauquier County.

XXXXX Godley About 1797 Mary Godley
Mary Godley About 1799 Fauquier County, Virginia
XXXXX Godley About 1801 Virginia
Lucinda Godley About 1803 Fauquier County, Virginia
Jesse S. Godley About 1805 Fauquier County, Virginia
Mumford Godley About 1815 Kentucky

Sometime between 1805, when their son Jesse was born in Virginia, and 1810, the family moved to what is now Allen County, Kentucky.   The 1810 census for Warren County, Kentucky (Allen County had not yet been formed) shows John Godley as the head of a household consisting of two boys and four girls under ten, one boy and one girl between 10 and 15, one man between 26 and 44 (John) and one woman between those same ages (Elizabeth).[2]

1810 US Census

John and his family appear next in the 1820 census, this time the one for the newly-formed Allen County. This time there was one boy under ten years of age, two boys and two girls between 16 and 18, one man (John) and one woman (Elizabeth) between 26 and 45. There also were a number of slaves; the writing is not clear, but perhaps as many as 19 of them.[3]

It appears that John Godley was involved with the formation of the Allen County itself and was an early magistrate. He also was involved in an early controversy to determine where the county seat should be located.

But the battle was not yet over. On April 8, 1816, a group of the organizers met and rescinded their prior decision about the courthouse. They then appointed a new commission to decide on where it should be.   The original group met the next day and reversed the April 8th decision. On April 10th, they disputed the same issue again. And John Godley was in the middle of it the whole time.

On December 19, 1816, John Godley witnessed a deed between William Stewart and Robert Patton.   The same day, he also witnessed William Stewart’s wife, Nancy, sign a document releasing her dower (marital) interest in that property.[5]

On May 21, 1817, John Godley was one of seven magistrates of the Allen County Court who signed a document appointing an attorney to represent Allen County in an action filed against it in the Hardin Circuit Court.[6]

On August 26, 1817, John Ray sold to James Kelly land on a branch of the Dry fork of the Bays Fork. John Godley had paid $600 as a part of the transaction, apparently assigning his interest to James Kelly.[7]

On April 8, 1819, John Godley was one of three commissioners appointed by the July 1818 term of the Allen County Court to make a deed to Samuel Smith.[8]

By another deed dated September 7, 1819, John Godley bought for $1 an acre 33 acres of land in Allen County from Elijah Cussenberry. The land was located on the water of Soloman Creek, a branch of Difficult Creek, which in turn was a branch of Big Barren River.[9]

On November 15, 1819, John Godley bought from Thomas Dobson of Warren County, Kentucky, for $100, 45 acres of land in Allen County on the water of Big Difficult Creek. This land was part of a military survey patented in the name of Nathaniel Reed.[10]

Other transactions involving John Godley show that he also bought property from John Finny and wife[11] and from the Trustees of Scottsville.[12]

His will was probated in the December term of 1826.[13]

The 1840 Allen County census shows Elizabeth Godley as being between 60 and 70 years of age.[14]   This was the last reference to her discovered in the public records.


Isaac Shelby

The Kentucky legislature, on January 11, 1815, created Allen County out of parts of Warren County and Barren County. The new county did not become official, however, until April 10, 1816 when Governor Isaac Shelby’s appointed officials met and formally organized it.

In the days leading up to the formal organization, there was a dispute about where the new county seat should be located. Some wanted it to be on property owned by Willis Mitchell and others wanted it to be about four miles farther south on Bay’s Fork, on lands of John Brown. The latter location was selected. John Godley was mentioned in the history of the events surrounding the selection as “assistant judge under the act of Assembly.”  That referred to an ‘assistant county judge,’ who then had both judicial and  administrative powers.[4]