Sunday, November 14, 2010

Darkis Goodwin vs Joseph Goodwin

Rubia Earnestine Goodwin Brown Powe
Granddaughter of Joseph and Darkis
1st Cousin of my Mother

Darkis married Joseph Goodwin about 1855 according to the customs of slavery and entered their freedom as a married couple in Copiah County, Mississippi. They didn't have a dollar to their name but manage through hard work to acquire about 600 acres of land and a well stocked supply of farm animals. Joe purchased his first land in 1869, 80 acres from Wesley L. Ainsworth for $500.

Descendants of Joseph Goodwin say he was a mean and cruel man. He had several intimate relationship with women outside of the marriage, which produced several children. He also required that the women who lived on his land submit to sexual intimacies with him. Darkis's divorce records appear to support those assertions naming two women, Martha Jenkins and Caroline Jones, as his concubines.

In 1891, the marriage fell completely apart. Darkis was about 50, she had given birth to eleven children and she had endured hard work, leaving her physically unable to provide for herself. Joe was ready to dissolve the relationship, forcing Darkis from the home by beating her unmercifully and threatening to kill her with an ax. She fled the home, never to return.

Darkis was now penniless and homeless. She realized that she and the children had worked just as hard as Joe for what they had obtained. She sought the courts for relief.

The land was legally title to only Joe, so, she would not receive relief in that area. The courts granted her $50 temporary alimony and all her legal fees would be paid by Joe. The courts recognized the couple's marriage based on Article 22 from the Mississippi Constitution of 1868.
Sec. 22. All persons who have not been married, but are now living together, cohabiting as husband and wife, shall be taken and held for all purposes in law as married, and their children, whether born before or after the ratification of this Constitution, shall be legitimate; and the Legislature may, by law, punish adultery and concubinage.
Joe and Darkis' children were: Elizabeth "Lizzie," Josephine, James, Lydia, Dinah, twins Cora and Dora, Joe, and Albert. The last four children were minors at the time of the divorce. Darkis were given custody of the twins and Joe received his sons, Joe and Albert.

My mother's aunt Alice Marshall married, Joe and Dorcas's son, James.

Joe died sometime between 1893 and 1900, Dorcas died in 1918.

Darkis fought for what was rightfully hers and won.


  1. What a fascinating story. Obviously you have done some really good research. Congrats!

  2. Interesting and so very sad. I hope Darkis had some peace in her later years.

  3. Carol, I will be busy with this couple for awhile, busy researching the land records.

    Kristin, Peace would be a sweet revenge. I, too, wish her peace.

  4. I love this picture! She looks like a fun person. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Hello! I enjoy your blog and have awarded you the Ancestor Approved Blogger Award. You may see the write up and collect your icon for the side bar of your blog by visiting my blog at

  6. This is my grandmother. My name is Tamara Fay Adams, daughter of Taveta Fay Adams (nee Brown). I was actually researching my grandmother's Eastern Star legacy and stumbled upon this post. We are family and I would like to get to know you.
    Email me at