William and Mary Godwin lived in Sampson County, N.C., in the early 1850s. At the time the census was taken, the couple had four children. The oldest child, Matilda, was born about 1844. Isham, the first son, was 4 years old at the time and born approximately 1846. Ransom was born January 18, 1848, and was two years old. Oliph (Ollie) was 3 months old and born that year in 1850. William was a farmer with real estate valued at $300. At this time I have no documentation as to the Godwin home place, other than he was listed as dwelling 598 on the 1850 census. I do not know where the farm may have been located.
William and Mary had one other child while living in North Carolina. Emily was born about 1854. There was a time in the beginning of pioneer days when settlers began to migrate to Arkansas. There were many reasons for leaving their established ways of life to start all over in an unfamiliar area and uncertain frontier life. Through the government they were able to become land owners through homesteading. In 1820, an Act was passed offering federal land at half price. Some time in 1855, William and Mary Godwin migrated to Arkansas. In December of 1855, they purchased 205 acres of land in Randolph County where William farmed.
The Bureau of Land Management - Land Patent Report, shows William Godwin as the purchaser of 205.42 acres of land in Randolph Co., AR (entry No. 10618) on December 17, 1856. The land being located in the Northwest Quarter and the Northeast Quarter of the Southwest Quarter of Section 2, Township 19 North of Range 1 East. According to the report, authority was given April 24, 1820 and was a cash entry sale (3 Stat. 566) and was filed in the land office in Batesville, AR.
"Private Entry No. 10618} Land Office at Batesville, Ark. Dec. 17, 1856. It is certified, That, in pursuance of law, William Godwin of Randolph County, State of Arkansas, on this day purchased of the Register of this Office, the Lot or NW Qtr. NE of SW of Section No. Two in Township No. 19 of Range 1 East containing 205 42/100 acres, at the rate of 12-1/2 cents per acre, amounting to Twenty-five dollars and 67 cents, for which the said William Godwin has made payment in full as required by law."
"Now, therefor, be it known, That, on presentation of this Certificate to the Commissioner of the General Land Office, the said William Godwin shall be entitled to receive a Patent for the land above described. W.W. Lewis, Register."
"...William Godwin; who, being duly sworn according to law deposes and says, in relation to the lands entered by him on the 17th day of December 1856, as per certificate of purchase No. 10618 that the same was for his own use, and for the purpose of actual settlement and cultivation, under the provisions of the Act of Congress of 4th of August, 1854, to graduate and reduce the price of the public lands to actual settlers and cultivators; that he is at this time in the occupancy of said lands, and has been residing thereon, since the 22nd day of December 1855 that he has a dwelling, a smoke house, a stable thereon and about six acres of said land cleared [and under fence]..."
This document was signed on 16 February 1859.
In 1856, another daughter, Ellen, was born. In 1858, Susan was born. In 1860, William and Mary A. Godwin are listed on the Randolph Co., AR census living in dwelling 120. William and Mary are 37 years old at this time. Isham is 14 years, Ransom 12 years, Olive 10 years, Emily 6 years, Ellen 4 years, and Susan 2 years. The oldest child, Matilda, is not on this census. She would have been 16 years old at this time and it is possible she was married and living on her own, or perhaps died young. The family was living in Demun Township and William was farming. His real estate is valued at $600; his personal property as $100. With the exception of Ellen and Susan, all the children attended school that year.
According to a family story, when the Civil War errupted William Godwin was sick with asthma so he could not fight as a soldier. Near the end of the war (about 1865) bushwhackers raided the Godwin farm, taking everything they could carry and hung William while the family witnessed the act. It is not known at this time when Mary Godwin died, but it was approximately 1871.