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(1888 - 1979)


(1860 - 1929)


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Martin Luther Goble


Born: 14 May 1888, Alexander County, NC
Died:  09 Apr 1979, Winston Salem, NC


Martin Luther Goble and
Beulah Vernesta "Nessie" Johnson Goble
in 1958


Martin Luther Goble was the first child born to Jacob Hedrick Goble and Frances Elizabeth Douglas.  Martin was born 14 May 1888 in Alexander County, NC.

Martin Goble’s siblings were:
     Eliza Jane Goble (13 Nov 1891)
     Otis Caldwell Goble (02 Sep 1894)
     Sarah Catherine Rebecca Goble (01 Aug 1896)

Just before Martin turned 19, a tragic event happened in the lives of his family.  While returning home from a church meeting in Catawba County, his sister, Eliza Jane (age 16), drowned while crossing the Catawba River from Catawba County into Iredell County on Sunday, 28 Apr 1907.  The body of her cousin, Sallie Fulbright, who also drowned in the incident, was found Monday morning.  Friends and family continued to look for Eliza Jane’s body, but were having no luck.  Many started to give up on the hunt.  Martin, however, refused to stop looking for his sister.  He was determined to find his sister’s remains.  On Tuesday afternoon, he was on the river in a canoe when he saw her clothes floating in the water.  The 18-year-old Martin was distraught with the loss of his sister, but knew that at least now she could have a proper burial.  Eliza Jane and Sallie were buried at Sharon Lutheran Church in Iredell County.


At the age of 21, Beulah Vernesta "Nessie" Johnson took a job as a servant at the home of Jacob Hedrick Goble.  She lived with the Goble family who were living in Miller's Township of Alexander County.  Nessie had two children Mae and Ethel who were not living with her at the time.

According to the 1910 Alexander County, NC Census, Jacob was 49 years old at the time, Fanny his wife was 50, Martin Luther was 20, Otis was 15, Sarah Catherine (Rebecca) was 13, and Nessie, who was listed as a servant living with the family and she was 21.


1910 Millers Township, Alexander County, NC Census

Last Name First Name Relation Sex Race Age Single/
Yrs Married Children Born Children Living Occupation
Goble Jacob Head M W 49 M 23     Farm Laborer
------ Fanny Wife F W 50 M 23 5 3 Farm Laborer
------ Martin L. Son M W 20 S       Farm Laborer
------ Otis C. Son M W 15 S       Farm Laborer
------ Sarah C. Daughter F W 13 S       Farm Laborer
Johnson Nessie Servant F W 21 M   0 0 None

While living at the Jacob Goble farm, Martin and Nessie became romantically involved and she became pregnant.


They were married on 25 Apr 1910. He was 22 and she was 23. Their first child, Lewis Hubert Goble, was born three months later on 23 Jul 1910. 


Martin & Nessie's Marriage License


Tragedy struck the young family and on 18 Jan 1911 when Lewis Hubert died.  He was just under 6 months old. He is buried at Sharon Lutheran Church in Iredell County, NC.


(Right) Lewis Hubert Goble's Headstone

Eventually, Nessie would become pregnant again and on 08 Apr 1912 James Henry Goble was born.  James Henry was tall and skinny and carried the nickname “Legs” throughout his life. 

Martin and Nessie weren’t as fortunate with the next two children.  There are several slight discrepancies concerning the birth and death dates of these children, and even the sex. 

Comparing the various records seem to indicate that "Baby Boy" Goble was born 01 Dec 1913 and died 01 Feb 1914 and that “Baby Girl” Goble was born on 09 Jan 1915 and died on 28 Apr 1915.



1920 Millers Township, Alexander County, NC Census


Last Name First Name Relation Sex Race Age Single
Can Write Birth
Goble Martin L. Head M W 32 M No Yes Yes NC Farmer
------ Nessie B Wife F W 33 M No Yes Yes NC None
------ Ethel I. Daughter F W 10 S Yes Yes Yes NC None
------ James H Son M W 7 S Yes     NC None
------ J. C. Son M W 4 S No     NC None
------ Harlee Son M W 1 3/12 S No     NC None

According to the 1920 Alexander County Census, Martin & Nessie were living in Millers Township.  They have three sons and Nessie's daughter Ethel is also living with them.  May was still living with her Great Uncle James Blankenship.


Martin and Nessie had at least twelve children during their marriage.  It's possible there might have been one or two more that died at birth.

Martin & Nessie's Children
Name Birth Date Death Date Spouse
Lewis Hubert Goble 23 Jul 1910 18 Jan 1911 (Died in Infancy)
James Henry "Leggs" Goble 08 Apr 1912 16 Nov 1995 Nina M Eades
"Baby Boy" Goble 01 Dec 1913 01 Feb 1914 (Died in Infancy)
"Baby Girl" Goble 09 Jan 1915 28 Apr 1915 (Died in Infancy)
J. C. Goble 29 Sep 1916 19 Jul 2005 Ada Eades
Harlee Goble 06 Sep 1918 05 Nov 1980 Dovie Alean Helms
Fannie Elizabeth Goble 10 Apr 1921 18 Sep 1998 Fred Franklin Isenhour
Mary Helen Goble 07 Apr 1924 28 May 2010 Floyd Eugene Sigmon
Willie Aleen Goble 04 Dec 1925 06 Feb 2018 Sam William Loftin
Elgevia Goble 24 Nov 1928   William Clifton Eggers, Jr.
Estelene Goble 24 Nov 1928 26 Mar 1929 (Died in Infancy)
Doris Goble 31 Oct 1933 04 Aug 1934 (Died in Infancy)
Several of Martin and Nessie's children had nicknames as they were growing up.  According to Willie Goble Loftin, Sally Witherspoon (wife of Buzz Witherspoon) gave James Henry the nickname "Leggs" because he was tall and skinny.
Harlee was called "Doc".  Mary Helen was nicknamed "Man" after a lady in the community to dipped snuff.
Willie said that she was called "Bill" (a usual nickname for William), Lib was called "Cam", and J.C. was called "Tud".
The Landmark (Newspaper)
Statesville, NC
Goble (Infant) - Infant of Martin L. Goble died first of May 1915.  Buried at Sharon Lutheran church.   (5/7/15 Landmark)

On 24 Nov 1928, Nessie gave birth to twin girls who she named Elgevia and Estelene.  Tragedy struck the family once again and Estelene died at only 4 months old.  Estelene is buried at Sharon Lutheran Church.  A simple rock marks her grave.

Fanny "Lib", J.C. and Harlee "Doc" Goble

Martin and Nessie’s last child, Doris, was born 31 Oct 1933 and died nine months later.  The Goble family was a poor share-cropping farming family and had to borrow clothes for the children to wear to the funeral.  Doris is buried at Sharon Lutheran Church with a rock to mark her grave.


(Left) Lib, Willie, Elgevia & Helen
(Right) J.C., Legs (face not shown) & Harlee
Willie Goble Loftin's memories of her family from the 1920s
(Recorded 10 Dec 2008)

Memories of her father, Martin, and her grandfather, Jacob Hedrick Goble
(Duration 2:00; Size 2.29 MB)

Click Here

Early memories of Martin and the family when they lived at Murphy Jones' house
(Duration 1:05; Size 1.24 MB)

Click Here

Memories about obtaining food, credit and clothing
(Duration 1:39; Size 1.90 MB)

Click Here

Memories of when the family moved from Iredell to Catawba County; Sister Doris
(Duration 3:07; Size 3.88 MB)

Click Here

According to the 1930 Iredell County, N.C. Census Martin, Nessie and the kids were living in Shiloh Township. 


1930 Shiloh Township, Iredell County, NC Census

Last Name First Name Relation Sex Race Age Married
Age at 1st
School in
Goble Martin L. Head M W 44 M 22 No Yes
------ B. Nessie Wife F W 44 M 23 No Yes
------ James H. Son M W 17 S   No Yes
------ J.C. Son M W 13 S   Yes No
------ Harley Son M W 10 S   Yes Yes
------ F. Elizabeth Daughter F W 8 S   Yes  
------ M. Helen Daughter F W 6 S   Yes  
------ Willie A. Daughter F W 4 5/12 S   No  
------ Elgevia Daughter F W 1 4/12 S   No  

At the time of the 1930 Census, Martin’s age was listed as 44, Nessie 44, James H. 17, J.C. 13, Harlee 10, Elizabeth 8, M. Helen 6, Willie A. 4 5/12 and Elgevia 1 4/12 years old.  Martin’s occupation was listed as “Farmer”.

The family attended Island Foard Church in Iredell County.  Willie remembers the kids would hunt for small bushes of sour blueberries and eat them.  Willie added, “There was shouting at the church.  We always said, ‘I hope they shout tonight’.  When the women would start shouting, the women’s hair pins would fall out and their hair would come down.  The Preacher was always eating with Mom and Pop, and frequently they’d even stay overnight.”


Martin and Nessie never owned a home.  The family were share-croppers.  They lived in a variety of houses in order to grow cotton crops.  The owner of the house they lived in got a percentage of the money from the cotton crop. They lived in homes in Alexander, Iredell (the Henry Setzer house) and Catawba Counties. 


The Henry Setzer house in May 2008



Martin was also a bootlegger in his younger days.


Willie, Martin's daughter, said that one year when she was small and before they moved to Catawba County, the children had missed a lot of school.  Some officials from the school came to see Martin - to see why the kids weren't in school - if they needed "help" - if they needed shoes or clothes so the kids could go to school.  The family may have been poor, but Martin had his pride.  He told them, "No!  We don't need help.  I just needed 'help' on the farm."


In approximately 1934, Martin and Nessie moved the family to Catawba County and lived in the old Pump Alley house, a small 3-room-house.  Willie was in 3rd grade at the time.  The ages of the children were approximately as follows:  Legs 20, J.C. 16, Harlee 14, Lib 11, Helen 8, Willie 7 and Gevia 4.


Their next move was into the Murphy Jones house.  It was a two-story house and much larger than the Alley house.


(Top Row) Nessie, Martin & James "Legs"
(Bottom Row) Willie, Elgevia holding Bud (Leg's son) and Helen

The Murphy Jones House



1942 was a happy year for the Goble family, producing three marriages that year.  The family was living in the Murphy Jones house at the time.  Willie married Sam Loftin on 21 Mar 1942, J.C. married Ada Eades on 11 July 1942, and Helen married Floyd Sigmon on 5 Sep 1942.

Willie Goble Loftin said, “Daddy didn’t get saved till we moved to Catawba County.  He got saved at a revival at Hudson Chapel Baptist Church.  Mama and Daddy were living in the Lowrance house on Lowrance Rd. at the time.” 

Martin was happiest when he was hunting.  He loved to hunt - everything from rabbit, squirrel, opossum, and turtle.  He also enjoyed fishing.  Dr. Fred Long in Catawba used to buy “Possums” from Martin.  According to Willie, Dr. Fred would say, “Martin, put me up some possums to get ‘em fat.  I’ll be back to get em.”

(Left) Nessie & Martin Goble


Martin & Nessie at the Murphy Jones property on Alley Rd. in Catawba County


Martin and Nessie lived with their daughter & son-in-law, Lib and Fred Isenhour, in various houses - first the old Lowrance house, then in the older home of Floyd and Helen Sigmon. 


The family gathers in May 1954 to celebrate Martin's 66th birthday on Lowrance Rd.

(Left) (Top Row) Nessie, Martin, Harlee, JC, Ethel & Legs
(Bottom Row) Lib, Helen, Elgevia & Willie


(Below) The remains of the house Martin & Nessie lived in on Lowrance Rd.


Curtis Loftin: "In June of 2007 I was at the Dr. Q. M. Little House Museum in Catawba researching the history of the stores in Catawba, trying to find out which buildings my Grandfather Alonzo Loftin had built.  I mentioned to Helen Rhyne, the propitoress of the museum, that my grandparents Martin & Nessie had lived in the house on Lowrance Rd.  She walked away and came back with the above photo.  I was really pleased because it is a more complete photo of the house the way it was when Martin & Nessie lived in it.  Then Helen really surprised me - she told me that her husband had inherited the property from his parents and had donated the two rooms on the right side of the house as an "add-on" to the Dr. Q. M. Little House Museum, to serve as the Welcome Center - and I was actually standing in part of the house Martin & Nessie had lived in.  My mouth dropped open!   "I had actually played in those rooms when I was 3 or 4 years old. They had needed additional space at the museum and it seemed more appropriate to move over part of the old house and restore it rather than build two brand "new" rooms to the old  Q. M. Little House Museum.  To me, as long as the Dr. Q. M. Little Museum stands in Catawba, a part of Martin & Nessie will remain alive."


(Below) The last house where Martin & Nessie lived - Floyd & Helen Sigmon's older house


After Nessie’s death in 1959, Martin lived with most of his children for various periods of time, including Lib, Willie, Helen, Elegevia, and JC. 


Curtis Loftin: "Grandpaw Goble lived with us for most of the 1960s. When my brother William "Billy" Ray Loftin married Diane Self in Dec 1961, they got the second bedroom at Dad & Mom's house. The twin bed I shared with Grandpaw was moved into the den. I can't imagine how he managed to sleep with a skinny 8-year-old kid, but he did and never complained. Billy Ray & Diane moved into their first home six months later so Grandpaw and I finally got our own bed in that second bedroom".


Curtis Loftin: "Grandpaw loved to hunt and trap and fish. He built and set rabbit traps and hunted for squirrel and  'possum' (opossum). Mom told him that she'd be glad to cook them for him, but he'd have to clean them himself. Which he did. He put two nails on the back of an old building and attached the leg there. Using his pocket knife, he'd carefully remove the skin, heads, legs and insides. Insides, however, weren't thrown away. He considerd the liver, heart and gizzard to be tasty treats. I'd get a lucky rabbit foot from him from time to time. But they were never like the fancy ones you got at the dime store in Newton. I'm not sure why they called them "lucky", anyway. They sure weren't lucky for the rabbit."


Curtis Loftin: "Unfortunately, I didn't get interested in family history and genealogy until 2005. I really wish I had the opportunity to ask Grandpaw all the questions I now have as an older adult.
     1. How many children did Grandmaw Nessie have? Was it 15 like I suspect?"
     2. Where did Ethel live when you and Grandmaw Nessie got married?
     3. Why didn't May and Ethel live with you?
     4. What are the things you remember most about your Dad and Mom?
     5. Did you ever have the opportunity to meet your paternal Grandpaw?
I knew Grandpaw Goble had a brother (Uncle Od) and a sister (Aunt Becky), but I had no ideal he had a sister, Eliza Jane, that drowned crossing the Catawba River and that he was the one who found the body."


Curtis Loftin: "When I was a young boy, I do remember asking him where his family came from. He told me they were mostly from Scotland and Ireland. He also told me he had some "Black Dutch" in his ancestry. My eyes got really big and he just laughed and laughed as he watched me. Grandpaw Goble was very dark skinned and I figured he has just let me in on a big family secret. He never did tell me that Black Dutch was just a another name for people of Germanic descent. In 2016 I decided to have Mom/Willie Goble Loftin's Autosomal DNA tested through Ancestry.com. As it turns out, she was 76% England, Wales & N.W. Europe ethnicity, 19% Ireland & Scotland ethnicity, 3% Swedesh ethnesity and 2% Germanic European ethnicity - confirming what Grandpaw told me."


Curtis Loftin: "Dad/Sam William Loftin built a "tent" for our family at the Balls Creek Campground. It was my first tent, but not Dad's first. I loved campmeeting and so did Grandpaw."


Martin enjoys Balls Creek Campmeeting at
Sam & Willie Loftin's tent in 1966
with Beverly & Billy Loftin,
Terry Lee & Frankie Edwards
Martin at J.C. Goble's tent

1967: Sam Loftin and Martin Goble at Sam & Willie's 25th Wedding Anniversary Celebration

After Sam became ill, Willie was no longer able to take care of Sam, Curtis and Martin, plus work a job.  At that time Martin lived with Lib,Helen, Gevia and J.C.

(Left) April 8, 1967
(Right) Martin at Fred & Lib Isenhour's house


This photo has become a favorite by all of Martin's descendants.  It was taken by Bob Styles when Martin was living with Sam & Willie Loftin on Hwy 10 in Catawba, during the 1960s.


Martin with part of his children

(Left to Right) J.C., Harlee, Helen, Willie, Martin, James/Legs, Lib and Ethel


Willie Goble Loftin: "Daddy was in the hospital just before he died. He said to me, 'When I get out of the hospital, can I go and live at your house so I'll have somebody to talk to?'"


Martin never got to go back to live with Willie and Sam.  Because of his declining health, J.C. felt his father would be better off in a rest home.  He died just a few days after being placed there.

Martin died on 09 Apr 1979 of heart failure, just a month before he would have turned 91.

Martin and Nessie are buried at Sharon Lutheran Church in Iredell County, NC.


Martin Luther Goble - (1888 - 1979)

Date Age Event Place Source Notes
1888 0 BIRTH Alexander Co, NC Find-A-Grave 14 May 1888
1900 13 Residence Millers Township
Alexander Co, NC
1900 Census 30 Jun 1900; Actually age 12
1907 18 Sister Dies Catawba River
Catawba/Iredell Co
Landmark Newspaper
28 Apr 1907; Eliza Jane Goble; age 16
1910 21 Marriage Iredell Co, NC Marriage License 25 Apr 1910; Beulah Vernesta "Nessie" Johnson
1910 21 Residence Millers Township
Alexander Co, NC
1910 Census 10 May 1910 - Just before Birthday;
Nessie listed as "Boarder"
1910 22 Son Born Millers Township
Alexander Co, NC
Headstone 23 Jul 1910; Lewis Hubert Goble;
Sharon Lutheran, Iredell Co, NC
1911 22 Son Dies Millers Township
Alexander Co, NC
Headstone 18 Jan 1911; Lewis Hubert Goble;
Sharon Lutheran, Iredell Co, NC
1912 23 Son Born Millers Township
Alexander Co, NC
Headstone 08 Apr 1912;
James Henry "Leggs" Goble
1913 25 Son Born Millers Township
Alexander Co, NC
Death Certificate 01 Dec 1913; Infant Boy Goble
1914 25 Son Dies Millers Township
Alexander Co, NC
Death Certificate 01 Feb 1914; Infant Boy Goble;
Measles & Pneumonia
Sharon Luth. Church (No Headstone)
1915 26 Daughter Born Millers Township
Alexander Co, NC
Birth Certificate 09 Jan 1915; Infant Girl Goble
1915 26 Daughter Dies Stoney Point
Millers Township

Alexander Co, NC
Death Certificate 28 Apr 1915; Infant Girl Goble;
Bronchial Pneumonia
Sharon Luth. Church (No Headstone)
1916 28 Son Born Stoney Point
Millers Township

Alexander Co, NC
Birth Certificate
29 Sep 1916: J.C. Goble
1918 30 Son Born Stoney Point
Millers Township

Alexander Co, NC
Birth Certificate
06 Sep 1918; Harlee Goble
1920 31 Residence Stoney Point
Millers Township

Alexander Co, NC
1920 Census 08 Jan 1920; Farmer:
4 kids at home
1921 32 Daughter Born Stoney Point
Millers Township

Alexander Co, NC
Birth Certificate
10 Apr 1921;
Fannie Elizabeth "Lib" Goble
1924 35 Daughter Born Iredell Co, NC NC Birth Index
07 Apr 1924; Mary Helen Goble
1925 37 Daughter Born Shiloh Township
Iredell Co, NC
Headstone 04 Dec 1925; Willie Aleen Goble
1928 40 Daughter Born - Twin Shiloh Township
Iredell Co, NC
Index to Births in Iredell County, NC 24 Nov 1928; Elgevia Goble
1928 40 Daughter Born - Twin Shiloh Township
Iredell Co, NC
Index to Births in Iredell County, NC 24 Nov 1928; Estelene Goble
1929 40 Twin Dies Shiloh Township
Iredell Co, NC
Death Certificate 26 Mar 1929: Estelene Goble; 4 mths;
Acute Pneumonia
Sharon Luth. Church (No Headstone)
1930 41 Residence Shiloh Township
Iredell Co, NC
1930 Census 05 Apr 1930;
7 Kids on the Farm
1933 45 Daughter Born Shiloh Township
Iredell Co, NC
Index to Births in Iredell County, NC 31 Oct 1933: Doris Goble
1934 45 Doris Dies Shiloh Township
Iredell Co, NC
Death Certificate 04 Aug 1934: Doris Goble;
Malnutrition; 9 months
1935 46 Moved Catawba Co, NC 1940 Census Family moved from Iredell to Catawba County, NC
1940 51 Residence Catawba Co, NC 1940 Census 08 Apr 1940
1959 70 Nessie Dies Newton,
Catawba Co, NC
Death Certificate 23 Feb 1959;
Beulah Vernesta "Nessie" Goble
1961 73 Lives with Daughter Catawba
Catawba Co, NC
Family History Martin lived with daughter Willie and her husband, Sam Loftin
1979 90 DEATH Winston Salem
Forsyth Co, NC
NC Death Index 09 Apr 1979;
Month before turning 91



If you have additional photos or information on Martin Luther Goble, please contact me.

A special thanks to Willie Goble Loftin, Brenda Isenhour Schronce and Boyd & Becky Goble for the photos of Martin & his family.