Excerpts from Allen H. Godbey, A Biography, by Clarence H. Brannon
Allen H. Godbey
A Biography

by Clarence H. Brannon

Dr. Allen H. Godbey was a prolific author and a member of the faculty of the School of Religion (now the Divinity School) of Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina. His notes and letters on the Godbey family are an important part of this web site.

Clarence H. Brannon, a student of Dr. Godbey, wrote his biography in 1949, which was published by the Christopher Publishing House of Boston. The entire biography is of interest. He writes, for example, "Dr. Godbey never owned a horse, an automobile or a radio." I quote the first two or three pages from his book, in which he describes the history of the Godbey family:

Allen Howard Godbey was born on November 21, 1864, in Cooper County, Missouri. This is the official record which appears in Who's Who, but Allen Godbey was actually born in a log cabin across the county line in Pettis County. The county line went through the farm of Dr. Allen H. Conkright, where Allen was born and form whom he was named.

The Godbeys were originally from England. [Footnote: The name "Godbey" (Guthe-By or Gudh-By) was originally Danish, dating from the Danish occupation of Leicestershire. The Danish name originally meant anyone from the village of "Guhe-By" (or Gudh-By), and did not mean that all of that name were related.] Thomas Godbey came to America on the ship Deliverance in 1608, and settled in Elizabeth City County, Virginia, where he died in 1628. There is a record of two Thomas Godbeys, the son and grandson of the passenger on the good ship Deliverance, as settlers on the Elizabeth River, Lower Norfolk, Virginia.

The Godbey family moved to Christ Church Parish, Middlesex County, Virginia, where Edward, the grandson of the first Thomas Godbey, died in about 1707. The Godbeys then moved to CAroline County, Virginia, where John, the great grandson of Thomas died in 1761. There were more than one hundred distinguished preachers, educators and editors among the descendants of this John Godbey.

The second John Godbey was born about 1752 and became a soldier in the American Revolution. He was converted by Francis Asbury after which he freed his slaves. None of his descendants were ever slave owners through they lived in slave states. They were, however, unalterably opposed to pulpit abolitionism.

William Godbey, son of the second John, moved from Caroline County, Virginia, to Casey County, Kentucky, in about 1803, and lived o be 96 years of age. Four of William's sons became Methodist Preachers. Of these four sons, John Godbey and Josiah Godbey, each had four sons who were Methodist Preachers.

Rev. Josiah Godbey, the grandfather of Allen H. Godbey, moved to Cooper County, Missouri, in 1851. Josiah's wife's grandfather was a Catholic (Kelly), but he was converted in the New River Hills of Virginia, before he went to Kentucky. Josiah dropped out of the ministry and farmed for a while but Missouri put him back to preaching. He had a makeup much like that of Drummond, and his is said to have been the best o all the Godbey preachers. Josiah was not an educated man but he stuck to certain basic convictions which no one could dispute. here are men who will somehow know the things worth knowing and Josiah was one of them.

William Clinton Godbey, the father of Allen H. Godbey, was one of Josiah's ten children. In 1858, when William was 21 ears o age, he ran a subscription school at Arator, Missouri, about 18 miles from Smiths' Chapel, near the Cooper-Pettis County line. Several of William's younger brothers and sisters were paying members of this private school. It was not a grammar school; mostly high-school subjects being taught there.

The next year (1859) found William as St. Charles College, Missouri, where he remained until the college was closed at the outbreak of the Civil War. William strapped his Lain book on a plow and learned that and several other subjects before entering St. Charles.

William married Caroline Smith, of Smith's Chapel, Saline County, Missouri, a direct descendant of Captain John Smith's brother. Caroline attended Howard High School at Fayette, Howard County, Missouri, founded by Nathan Scarritt. Howard County was called "Little Virginia" because many of its pioneer settlers came from the Old Dominion. It is now a famous apple section.

-- Brannon, Clarence H., Allen H. Godbey, a Biography, pp. 13-15 (Christopher Publishing House, Boston, 1949)