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Dick Taylor

Alexander K. Goudy

The narrative below speaks of A. K. Goudy before the association with Willa Cather. This informative sketch is from Portrait & Biographical Album of Johnson and Pawnee Counties Nebraska published by Chapman Bros., Chicago, 1889. 

ALEXANDER K. GOUDY, Superintendent of the county schools, is a man possessing considerable force of character and native talent, and one of those who cast their lot with the people of Nebraska in the fall of 1874.  His early training was given him among the hills of the Buckeye State, he having been born near the city of Springfield, Clarke County, May 13, 1847.  He lived there until a little lad of seven years, and then removed with his parents to Warren County, Ill., where they settled near Monmouth, the county seat.  The latter were Thomas B. and Nancy P. (Kirkpatrick) Goudy, natives of Ohio, and who spent their last years in Nebraska, the father passing away in February, 1886, and the mother March 10, 1888. 

The district school furnished to our subject his primary education, and among the peaceful pursuits of farm life he learned those habits of industry and economy which proved of use to him in after years.  Later he became a student of the Normal University, where he gave close attention to his books for a period of two years, and then began teaching.  Later he resumed farming, which he prosecuted one year in the Prairie State, and as we have stated sought the farther West in 1874.  He now became fully identified with its educational interests, and began operations in Pawnee City as a teacher in the public schools, also as Principal, which position he held a number of years, and then changed the field of operations to North Platte, where he spent two years. 

At the expiration of this time Mr. Goudy established the Pawnee City Academy, which was opened in October, 1877, and was conducted as a private school until January, 1883.  On the 1st of that month he entered upon his duties as a teacher in the Nebraska State Normal School at Peru, remaining there until 1884, then returned to Pawnee City, and soon thereafter was elected County Superintendent of Schools.  He was re-elected in the fall of 1886 for a second term of three years. 

Mr. Goudy was married, July 11, 1882, to Miss Alice Daily, daughter of William Daily, of Nemaha County.   Mrs. Goudy was born in Madison, Ind., and they are the parents of one child, a daughter, Anna, who was born Aug. 20, 1886.   Mr. Goudy, politically, votes the straight Republican ticket, and both he and his estimable wife are members in good standing of the United Presbyterian Church. 

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It must have been during the school year of 1889-90 when A. K. Goudy taught Latin to Willa Sibert Cather, and when his wife, Alice E. (Daily) Goudy, was Willa's high school principal at Red Cloud.  Willa Cather later began studies at the University of Nebraska in September, 1890.  The Goudys would also come to live in Lincoln while A. K. served as State Superintendent of Schools from 1891 to 1895, and once again Willa was reunited with her mentors.  She corresponded closely with Alice Goudy over the next four decades while authoring "Song of the Lark"; "O Pioneers!"; "My Antonia"; "Death Comes for the Archbishop"; and other popular books. 

Edited for this site by Dick Taylor, 1999.

Copyright 2008 Pawnee County History

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