GOD & TEXAS: Godley Texas!
The bustling town of Godley, Texas, is located about 30 miles southwest of downtown Fort Worth. It is currently experiencing unprecedented growth in population that requires the building of more homes and businesses.
When Godley was founded in 1886, it was named after Robley B. Godley, a highly successful businessman of the era. He had donated about 28 acres for a townsite and railroad facilities, and envisioned a hard-working town with churches and schools.
Born in Louisiana in 1854, Godley descended from an aristocratic English family that revered their ancestor Sir William Forman, the former lord mayor of London. The Godley family immigrated to America with the original colonists in 1631.
R. B. Godley started a lumber yard in Marlin, Texas, and eventually owned six yards in six towns, plus a gristmill, three cotton gins, two dairy-processing plants, two general stores, and business interests expanding into New Mexico and Arizona. When other businessmen spoke of R. B. Godley, they said that he was the man to “bring things to pass.”
Godley married the former Miss Willie Shields, who was a descendant of notable congressmen and generals. The story of their fairy-tail courtship is recorded in their original love letters now on display in a trophy case of history at Godley High School. Together, they had eight children, all of whom became successful in their chosen fields.
But something went dreadfully wrong. Some rumors say that Godley became trapped in riotous living and unscrupulous business deals which seems uncharacteristic of this church-going citizen. Others say that circumstances inadvertently turned against him. For whatever reason, R.B. Godley lost all of his holdings and wealth. In a cruel twist of fate, the man to “bring things too pass,” was sentenced to the Parker County Poor Farm.
Godley was forced to associate with diseased street people, criminals, and life-long paupers. The farm superintendent would assign Godley humbling duties like feeding the livestock, tending the garden, cooking, or washing clothes. It was degrading work for an “aristocrat,” and Godley was deeply shamed.
As often as possible, Godley would tell the superintendent that he was not a pauper. He also begged the superintendent to not bury him in the paupers' cemetery. When he died in 1921, the superintendent kindly buried Godley in a hidden spot outside of the paupers' cemetery. His grave was only recently found by a local dairy farmer.
This is a sad story about a man who had it all and lost everything. But his memory lives on in his good deeds, and acts of kindness. Several years ago, the great grandson of R.B Godley donated to the high school trophy case the Godley family Bible, that had been handed down since 1880. What a treasure.
Revelation 14:13 says that our good works follow us. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 5:25 (MSG), “The same with good deeds. Some you see right off, but none are hidden forever.” Be kind and generous, and others will remember you with respect and gratitude.
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