Hershel Franklin Godwin

Hershel Franklin Godwin

Picture of Hershel and Ruby (Hamilton) Godwin, taken shortly after their engagement in Arkansas, date unknown.

Hershel Franklin Godwin was the second son of James and Rosie Godwin. He was born in Ione, Arkansas on 19 Aug. 1906. Hershel worked at a barber shop when he was 17 years old on Friday and Saturday in Ione. Hershel made twenty-five cents per haircut. He was still living in Ione when he met Ruby Irene Hamilton (daughter of Ernest Hamilton and Patsy Layman). They met at a party hosted by a girl named Birdie who lived in Forest Grove (Bloomer area), Arkansas. Ruby was about 17 years old at the time and her friend Birdie had invited a few girls as well as a few boys to the party. Hershel came with a friend and prior to their arrival at the party, Hershel said he was taking home the first pretty girl he saw that evening. Of course, that girl was my Grandma Ruby, and they began their courtship that night.

Hershel Godwin was still living with his folks during this time. The family farmed cotton and he continued to barber in Ione on weekends. He didn't make much money, but saved enough for a 1924 pickup truck. In 1928, Ruby was living in the Bloomer area with her folks, Ernest and Patsy Hamilton. She was 20 years old when she married Hershel Godwin, and Hershel was 23 and living in Booneville. Ruby says she was so tired of working on the farm at home. Her parents raised cotton as well and she, being one of six daughters born to Ernest and Patsy Hamilton, had many chores to do when harvest time came. She told Hershel that she didn't want to do farm work any more. Hershel told her he only had $100 to his name. Ruby said "fine." They eloped on October 13, 1928 and were married in Booneville, Arkansas. Both Ruby and Hershel returned to their respective homes to live as they were not financially ready to set up housekeepping. When Ernest Hamilton found out about the marriage, he woke Ruby one morning and said "Ruby, a married woman will pay room and board!" Shortly thereafter, Ruby and Hershel Godwin made their home in Fort Smith.

Hershel and Ruby (Hamilton) Godwin had four children during their marriage, namely:

1. Elizabeth Ann Godwin (Eastwood/Hays) 1929 - 1966
2. Mary Frances Godwin (Haymond/Ward) - living
3. Jerry Bell Godwin (Riedel) - living
4. Donald Ernest Godwin - living (you can visit Don Godwin at Don Godwin's Airborne Page

Donald, Jerry, Mary Frances and Elizabeth Godwin

All the children were born in Upper Township of Fort Smith, Arkansas, and spent most of their early years there. Mary Frances recalls going downtown in Fort Smith on Saturday nights. They would marvel at the stores, windows, and all the lights and people. Hershel Godwin worked for Wards Furniture Company in Fort Smith and made twenty-five cents per hour. He later advanced to fifty cents per hour. During the depression, Hershel went to work at Camp Chaffee (located near Barling, Arkansas) as a painting contractor. He painted many of the buildings and barracks at the camp, most of which still stand today. When the money ran out and the camp was waiting for additional funding, Hershel was told it would be at least a month until additional jobs were available at the camp. Like many others during this depressed time period, Hershel Godwin moved his family to California about 1941. It was there that he eventually merged with another contractor and had his own paint contracting business. Hershel Godwin died in his sleep in Oxnard, California on 10 Nov. 1964.

Hershel and Ruby Godwin at home in Oxnard, California.