The Goodrums did not contend with one other as the Pannills did. They were close. The family, fatherless, had grown up in poverty.

Grandmother – born Lutie Hunt Donaldson – first married a man named Goss. He was the father of Mother’s siblings – Ethel, Nellie, Leo, and Leah.

But around 1910, Father Goss abandoned wife and family to move to California. Grandmother begged him not to leave her with four small children, but he went. Years later, Leo discovered that his father had produced another family of Gosses on the West Coast.

Grandmother moved to Cleveland, Texas, one county north of Houston. She was married a second time to a man named Charles Goodrum. Grandmother ran a boarding house; Charles lived next door. All Lutie’s children took the name Goodrum, albeit without a formal adoption.  They wanted to have the same name as their mother did.

Grandmother had her fifth child with Mr. Goodrum. Mary Ellen, born July 13, 1916, was my mother.

Grandmother & Mother

Lutie Long and Mary Goodrum Pannill, 1958

That makes Charles Goodrum my grandfather. Yet I never saw him and know almost nothing about him.

Charles Goodrum mistreated his new family. Grandmother divorced him and moved back to Fort Worth. The children never spoke of him. They did not even have a photograph of him. Mother, despite her lifelong fascination with genealogy, collected no information about her own father. She would not take calls from the Goodrums in Cleveland, Texas. To all intents and purposes, she was fatherless.

Here is what I have learned about Charles Goodrum:

According to, the Mormon genealogical service, Charles was born in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1878. The 1920 census shows him as Charles Goodrun, age 40 (census-takers err: the 1940 census shows me as Wilborn P. Pannill).

Charles was living as a lodger in Ward 4 of Fort Worth. He could read and write. There was an 11-year-old named “Goodrun” living there – likely his child born in 1909 from an earlier marriage. Most important, the census reports his father’s birthplace as South Carolina and his mother’s as North Carolina.

The 1940 census shows Charles living in Dallas and married to Minnie Goodrum. On October 15, 1941, he died in Dallas, but was buried in Mineral Wells, Palo Pinto County, Texas.

All the relevant family trees in Ancestry. com show Charles’s parents as Joseph Goodrum, born in 1825 in South Carolina, and Ellen Hamilton (Goodrum), born in 1830 in Asheville, North Carolina. That squares with Charles’s statements to the census taker.

Ellen died in 1907, Joseph in 1908. Both of them are buried in Mineral Wells. That explains Charles’s burial in Mineral Wells.

Although Ellen’s birthdate would make her 48 when she bore Charles, all else points to her as his mother. Most convincing is that her birthplace was Asheville, N.C., which was also his birthplace. Mary Goodrum’s middle name , “Ellen,” proves to be the name of her grandmother Ellen Hamilton. All this shows me that Joseph and Ellen were Charles’s parents.
Grandmother married a third time to a Mr. Long. I have no information and no recollection of him. I don’t even know his first name. By the time I was visiting Grandmother, she lived in a small house near Nellie and Leo that I understood her children had acquired for her.

Yet the want of a father seems to have knit the Goodrum family together. In the Twenties, Grandmother operated a boarding house by the trolley line in Fort Worth and also took in washing. All the children worked.  Mary, our mother, took a job at Montgomery Ward in Fort Worth, which she called “Monkey Ward.”

When Mother became a cheerleader at Central High School in the 1930s, her mother told her she would have to turn down the honor because Lutie could not afford to buy the cheerleading uniform. Leo, nicknamed “Numa,” a star end on the football team, said he would work an extra job to buy Mary’s uniform.