REUBEN JULIUS GODDARD. The legal profession of Randolph county sees in Reuben Julius Goddard the patriarch of the fraternity in that section and the last of the Sparta contingent of legal lights of the Civil war period. He was born June 21, 1842, and as a scion of old and famous families on both his maternal and paternal sides it is manifestly consonant with the fitness of things that a somewhat extended mention be made of his ancestry at this time.
Reuben Julius Goddard is descended from pioneer Revolutionary stock on both sides, the Goddards and the Browns for many generations being noted for their intellectual attainments and professional achievements. The Goddards were English people of the Episcopal faith, while the Browns were Scotsmen of the faith of the Covenanters, and Reuben J. Goddard is shown to be a lineal descendant of John Brown, the Scotch martyr to the cause of religious liberty. The reigns of the two Charles in England were noted for their turbulence and the unhappy persecution of their subjects. It was the avowed determination of the two monarchs to be the head of the church and to be acknowledged as such in the worship of their subjects. The great body of the people, however, bitterly resented such intrusion into their private beliefs and opinions, rejecting the formalities of ceremonial religions and, unwilling to acknowledge any but God as the head of the church, refused to worship in the name of the king. Many leading men in Scotland from all walks of life entered into a covenant to resist the efforts of the crown to force compliance with his demands, and in this movement was founded the religious faith afterwards known as the Church of the Covenanter. John Brown, the ancestor of Reuben
Julius Goddard, was one of those sturdy, up-standing zealots. When Charles the Second came to the throne he sought out all of those who had defied edicts of worship of Charles the First, and sent his soldiers out to regulate the Covenanters or to destroy them. They captured John Brown early one morning while out gathering fuel for his fire, and after questioning him briefly as to his practices and beliefs and his refusal to make public acknowledgment to the king, they shot him dead in the presence of his wife and family. The slaying of the fine old man caused an exodus of the Browns from Scotland to America. They settled in the Penn colony in Condoguinet valley, now Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, and there James Brown, the grandfather three generations removed from Reuben Julius Goddard, passed his life. His son William was the father of the mother of William Brown Goddard, the father of Reuben J. Goddard. From Pennsylvania the posterity of William Brown drifted south and west into Virginia, and when the exodus to the new country of Kentucky was started some of the Browns joined it and settled in Fleming county of the Kentucky commonwealth. That the Browns were intensely patriotic is evidenced by the fact that many of them served in the ranks of the Colonial army during the Revolutionary war. Among them were Benjamin, Matthew, Patrick, three Williams and John. All these made admirable records as valiant soldiers against the king, and their posterity has since demonstrated their inherent and abiding love of freedom and country by aiding in the ultimate preservation of the nation which their ancestors helped to establish. The Goddards, like the Browns of latter days, were of the early Virginia families, and that family also furnished men to the ranks of the Colonial army in the early struggle for independence. From Virginia some of them drifted into Kentucky with the tide, and it was there the two families met and their marital union eventually took place.
William Brown Goddard, the father of Reuben J. Goddard, was born in 1817. He was liberally educated, and after the completion of his education he with his wife came to Cahokia, the old Indian town in St. Clair county, but subsequently removed to Randolph county. Mr. Goddard eventually located in Sparta, where he followed his profession as an architect. He became involved in business affairs in the commercial world, and gave a deal of his time to the merchandise business, and was an active trader in Sparta for some time, in connection with his many other interests. Mr. Goddard, however, was a man with a "hobby," which took the form of a deep-rooted interest in higher education. He with others eventually founded Union Academy, and he was one of the moving spirits in the later founding of Monmouth College at Monmouth, Illinois, in both of which institutions he always maintained a deep interest. Later he moved to Colorado, and he made that state his home during the latter years of his life, dying there at Evans on April 12, 1873. His wife survived him for a number of years. The children of William Brown Goddard and his wife were: Evelyn, the widow of Myron Camp, of Benton, Kansas; Dr. James H., who was a surgeon in the Federal army during the War of the Rebellion, and he later moved to Sedgewick, Kansas, and finally died there; Reuben Julius, of Sparta; William Brown, who died in early life; Sarah, who died at Sedgewick, Kansas, as the wife of Robert Porter Morrison; Albert, of San Diego, California, and Mary O., who died in childhood.
Reuben J. Goddard went from the Sparta schools to the Union Academy, of which his father was the founder; upon the completion of his academic course he entered the University of Michigan, at the
time when the Civil war was just breaking out. He took a literary course and a full law course, graduating from the famous university in 1864. His diploma admitted him to the bar of Randolph county, and that same year he opened his office in the town in which he had been born, reared and partially educated. He found in Sparta as his colleagues at that time W. P. Murphy, F. B. Anderson, J. C. Holbrook, John Mechin and B. F. Livingston. Of this goodly group not one is left to recite the incidents of ante-bellum days, and Mr. Goddard finds himself the very dean of the legal fraternity of Randolph county. Before the war the Goddards were Northern Democrats. They supported Douglas until the advent of the war, when they became Lincoln Republicans, acting with that party henceforth. Reuben J. Goddard followed the Republican banner until 1872, when he aided in the support of Horace Greeley as a liberal Republican. Thereafter he leaned more strongly towards Democracy and he eventually came into full fellowship with that organization. Since then he has worked in fullest harmony with party leaders in Illinois. He has taken active part in the county campaigns, suffered his name to appear on their tickets as a candidate, and has been chosen to public office. He has served Sparta as city attorney for sixteen years, and for two years he was attorney for the common pleas court. In 1872 he was elected states attorney of Randolph county to succeed John Mechin and for eight years he held that office. After an intervening period of twelve years he was re-elected to the same office as successor of Ralph Sprigg, and terminated another two term period of service in that office in December, 1900. While not in office Mr. Goddard has devoted himself to private practice. He is local attorney for the many financial institutions of Sparta, and has served the Mobile and Ohio Railroad in that capacity since its construction, and with the Illinois Southern he has served in a like capacity for a period of ten years. Mr. Goddard has been affiliated with the Masonic order for many years, being a member of Hope Lodge, No. 167, A. F. & A. M.; of Harmon G. Reynolds Chapter; and of Tancred Commandery, No. 50, at Belleville.
In November, 1875, Mr. Goddard married Miss Emma Kerr, a daughter of John D. Kerr, formerly from Westfield, New York, but then of Chester, Illinois. The Kerrs are a family of Irish origin. Mr. Kerr, married Miss Clara Stephens, of Kerr's Corners, New York, and they became the parents of four children. Mr. and Mrs. Goddard have one child, William Brown, born in 1879, now a law student associated with his father.