Isaac Herschel Goodnight and Ella Hoy, as well as their son, Isaac Hoy Goodnight, are buried in Green Lawn Cemetery in Franklin, Simpson County, Kentucky. Their civic minded lives endeared them to their hometown, leaving legacies that continue today. Isaac Herschel Goodnight’s 1901 obituary says, ‘He was magnanimous to a fault, big-hearted, big-souled, liberal and charitable alike to the humblest and the highest. He was a Christian. And a gentleman. The community suffers a loss irreparable in his untimely taking-off. He was its most distinguished representative, its greatest benefactor.’ Son Hoy Goodnight followed in his father’s footsteps, already a judge at the young age of 33 when he was killed by a stray bullet, was considered ‘the most universally beloved man who ever claimed a home among Simpson County people.’ In a 2005 article in The Franklin Favorite it states that Mrs. Goodnight, as early as 1906, became president of the Music Club, and continued in that position until her death. In addition, she saw a great need in Franklin for a cultural center, and left money in her will for a public library.
The following information is from Simpson County Kentucky Families Past and Present 1819-1989, and was also published in several of the local newspapers.
Ella Hoy, who married Isaac Herschel Goodnight, is the person who made our local library possible and the person for whom the music club was named. She was born in Simpson County on January 6, 1857. Among her ancestors were many early Simpson County settlers – Thomas Hoy and his wife Susanna Bush; George Milliken and Agnes West; William West and Angeline Clendennen; and, William Leaton. She was the only child of the 1849-1850 marriage of Thomas Jefferson Hoy (1817-1898) and Lucy Jane Milliken (1827-1911). Thomas’ parents were John Hoy (1792-1866) and Sarah P. Martin (1798-1871), and Lucy’s were William West Milliken (1806-1883) and Nancy Leaton (1808-1882).
Isaac Herschel Goodnight was born in Allen County, Kentucky, January 31, 1849. His parents, Isaac Goodnight (born in 1802 in Lincoln County, Kentucky, died 1871) and Lucinda Billingsley (born 1814 in east Tennessee, died 1877) were married 1832 in Warren County. Isaac was the son of Jacob Goodnight (born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina) and Elizabeth Conder, and Lucinda was the daughter of Captain John Billingsley and Mary Doak. Jacob’s father, Michael Goodnight (said to have been the father of 22 children), emigrated from Highland Germany to America about 1735, living first in Rockbridge County, Virginia, and then in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. In 1781, while he and his family were on their way to Harlan’s Station (in present-day Mercer County, Kentucky), the caravan train in which they were traveling was attacked by Indians and he was killed.
Herschel Goodnight moved to Franklin with his parents in 1870. He graduated from Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee, in 1872, attended its law school for a year, and was admitted to the bar in 1874. After serving in the Kentucky House of Representatives during its 1877-78 term, he married Ella Hoy in Franklin on March 12, 1879. She was 22 years old and he was 30. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1889 and served three two-year terms. In 1897 he was elected Circuit Judge of the 7th Judicial District of Kentucky, and was serving in that capacity when he died in Franklin on July 24, 1901.
Ella Hoy and Isaac Herschel Goodnight had only one child, Isaac Hoy Goodnight, born in 1880. Hoy attended law school at Cumberland University and practiced law in Franklin. He never married, and in 1913, while serving as City Judge, he was killed by a stray bullet while attending a local carnival.
Ella Hoy Goodnight would be considered a modern woman in 1988, and certainly she was in 1921 as far as traveling was concerned. Passports in her name show that as early as May 1921, at age 64, and for the next 12 years, including 1933 when she was 76 years old, she visited at least 20 foreign countries. She died in 1935, and even though she left no descendants, she left many cousins down the lines.
Categories: Family Stories