Monday, February 20, 2012

Goforth Judson Ditch (1856-1944)

  This obscure man is Goforth Judson Ditch, a resident of St. Genevieve, Missouri who served one term in his state's House of Representatives. The portrait of him above is very likely the only one available online, and sources mentioning his legislative service and life have proven to be rather difficult to locate. A notable exception is the Official Manual of the State of Missouri, 1921-1922, where the above picture was found. This state manual offers forth the only substantial biography on Mr. Ditch, and although it is rather short, it will certainly help in compiling a brief write-up on him.
   Goforth J. Ditch was born in Waterloo, Illinois on October 8, 1856, being the son of John David and Elizabeth Ditch. At some point during his youth, his family resettled in St. Genevieve, Missouri, where he attended public schools. Ditch married here in February 1881 to Julia Ann Hipes. Goforth and Julia were married for sixty-two years, until her death in March 1943. The couple also had several children, Walter, Luther, Katie, Vallac, Andrew, Laura and Elbert.
   The Official Manual of Missouri lists Ditch's occupation as that of a farmer and school teacher, and it is noted that he followed the latter vocation for over fifty years! Ditch was also a justice of the peace in St. Genevieve County and later served as a census enumerator in 1900 and 1910. In 1920 Ditch was elected to a seat in the Missouri State House of Representatives. An electoral result from that state election is shown below, as it appeared in the St. Genevieve Fair Play on October 30, 1920. Ditch took his seat at the start of the 1921-22 session, and during his service sat on the following house legislative committees: Enrolled Bills, Federal Regulations, and Public Health and Scientific Institutions.

   Ditch served in the legislature for one term, which concluded in 1923. It is presumed that he went back to his earlier teaching career, but this remains uncertain. In 1932 Ditch reentered politics by running for his old seat in the state legislature but came up short in the vote count that year, being defeated by Democratic incumbent Louis Durey, 2,875 votes to 1, 338. Goforth J. Ditch died in St. Genevieve in February 1944 at age 87, a little less than a year after the death of his wife.

You Can Help!
  I am currently searching for more information on Goforth J. Ditch and need your assistance! As there is next to nothing online about this wonderfully named man, maybe someone out there knows more than what is already stated in his article. If any reader/amateur historian wants an interesting project to fill their time with, see what info you can dig up on this oddly named Missouri representative!

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