52 Ancestors #3 Sigourney Barker Goffe

Already into week #3 of the 52 Ancestors challenge, this week’s prompt is “Unusual name.” I’ve thought quite a bit about how I wanted to interpret the prompt–an unusual name of an ancestor, or perhaps the unusual name of a town in which an ancestor lived in? Or maybe they went by an unusual nickname? So many possibilities…

I ended up just choosing a name I thought was unusual enough that it’s the only one in my tree of 5,683 people, my paternal great-great-grandfather. His name was Sigourney Barker Goffe, and I would never have known him if not for Ancestry’s DNA matching. In fact, I only discovered him in 2017.

Sigourney Barker (Sidney) Goffe was born in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1843. His Goffe ancestors were ones that owned bathing houses in towns such as Easton, RI.

Sigourney was the eldest of five children–all boys–to Robert W. Goffe and Catherine S. Tew. He lived in Newport, Rhode Island for much of his life, serving in the military for Rhode Island during the Civil War. From the book, The Fourteenth Regiment Rhode Island Heavy Artillery (Colored), in the War to Preserve the Union 1861-1865, by William H. Chenery, Sigourney Goffe’s military record and accomplishments are shown in the photo below:

screen shot 2019-01-13 at 1.13.22 pm

Sigourney married twice; first to Eliza Shellen on January 7, 1864, in Fall River, MA. They had one child together, Alfred Sigourney Goffe, who died when he was less than a year old. Tragedy struck Sigourney again when his wife Eliza passed away just five years into their marriage.

On June 14, 1882, at the age of 39, Sigourney Goffe married Mary Galley in New York City, NY. They went on to have three children together, only two of which survived beyond infancy.

His son Nathaniel Sigourney Barker Goffe (my paternal great-grandfather) was born on April 7, 1886, in Manhattan, NYC, NY. I have yet to find a photograph of Nathaniel, but I am hopeful that I will make contact with a surviving family member who would be kind enough to share one with me.

His daughter Marie Louise Goffe was born on August 2, 1890. I was able to find a photo of her on Ancestry in another member’s family tree.


His daughter Marie Louise Goffe was born on August 2, 1890. I was able to find a photo of her on Ancestry in another member’s family tree. I feel like I can see similarities in her features with my grandmother, Thelma.

Sigourney Barker Goffe died on March 25, 1905, in his hometown of Newport, RI. I have no photos of great-great-grandfather yet, but perhaps someday, I will find one.

4 thoughts on “52 Ancestors #3 Sigourney Barker Goffe

  1. Thanks for sharing.

    Not sure you are aware there is a young lady on Twitter I believe I can remember her handle as “the civil war girl” She is a big Gen Sherman fan; you should tell her about your 2xgreat grandfather being his adjutant. Good luck with your blog


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