LIMA — On March 3, 1914, a day that promised a hint of spring after the first days of the month had provided a bitterly cold reminder it was still winter, 65-year-old Dr. Anna M. Goebel returned home for the final time. Lima’s first female physician had died at the home of her brother, Andrew Goebel, in Washington, D.C., after battling a mysterious, debilitating spinal disease for the better part of a decade.
The next day, according to the Lima Daily News, “St. Rose church was filled … with old friends and acquaintances of the late Dr. Anna Goebel, gathered there to honor her memory and to pay their last respects to a woman who had made a name for herself in a profession usually assigned to a man.”
Dr. Goebel and her five brothers had been making names for themselves in Lima since their father, German immigrant John G. Goebel Sr., put down roots in the city in the middle of the 19th century. Born in Bavaria in 1820, he had married Mary A. Borst, who also was born in Bavaria in 1820.
When Mary Goebel died at the age of 78 in August 1898, the Lima Times-Democrat noted, “Mr. and Mrs. Goebel were united in marriage in Germany 53 years ago and embarked for America in 1847, coming to Lima five years later, and have been honored and highly respected citizens of this city ever since. She was one of the oldest German settlers in Allen County.”
After settling first in New York, where John Goebel Jr. was born in July 1847, the Goebels moved on to Pennsylvania, where Anna Goebel was born in May 1849, and by 1851 were in Hardin County, where Lewis Francis Goebel was born in December 1851. Three more sons were born after the family settled permanently in Lima — Andrew Goebel in December 1854, Joseph Goebel in June 1857 and, finally, Philip Goebel in January 1860.
“Mr. Goebel was originally a carpenter, but later became a mechanic in the C.H.&D. (Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton) Railroad shops,” the Allen County Reporter, a publication of the county historical society, wrote in 2010. “The family’s house, a small, very comfortable cottage,” was on the southeast corner of Market and Metcalf streets. In 1881, the Goebels sold the home and moved to a house at 702 W. North St.
The Goebel family was part of an influx of Catholics who began arriving in Lima in the mid-1840s. In Mary Goebel’s 1898 obituary, the Times-Democrat noted that she “not only conformed with all the precepts of the Church, but she went farther” attending Mass almost daily. John Goebel Sr., the cabinet maker, was involved in construction of the city’s first permanent Catholic church, a 24-by-35-foot brick structure built in the mid-1850s on North West Street and named in honor of St. Rose of Lima (Peru).
According to a booklet published in 1896 to mark the silver anniversary of St. Rose parish, John Goebel Sr. “labored at night, often until two or three in the morning, making by hand, all the window and door frames, the sash and doors for the new house of God; and all a labor of love without remuneration.” The current St. Rose church replaced the original in 1872.
During the Civil War both John Goebel Sr., then a man in his 40s, and John Goebel Jr., barely a teenager, served in the Union Army. John Goebel Sr. served in 1862, while his son, who served as a musician, enlisted at the age of 15 in 1862 and served through 1863.
John Goebel Sr., called “one of Lima’s oldest and most highly respected citizens” by the News, died in his 80s in May 1902.
Following the war, John Goebel Jr. worked as a train engineer, spending almost 22 years in Chattanooga, Tennessee, before returning to Lima in May 1912. John Goebel Jr. was married to the former Lutwina (or Tudwina) Ferkel and the couple had four children, none of whom outlived their parents. After his wife’s death in 1918, John Goebel Jr. in 1919 married the former Ida Finley Sears. He died in June 1920.
Lewis (or Louis) Goebel pursued a career as a shoemaker, learning the trade from L. Van Pelt beginning in 1868 and “is now engaged in the manufacture of boots and shoes, along with L. Van Pelt,” according to an 1885 history of Allen County. He also was, at one time or another in his short life, engaged as a firefighter and policeman.
Lewis Goebel and his wife, the former Catherine/Caroline Ogan, had nine children, among them a son named John Bay Goebel, who would become a Lima policeman.
In addition to his work as a shoemaker, Lewis Goebel also was, at one time or another in his short life, a firefighter and policeman. On his death at 36 in August 1888, the Allen County Democrat noted, “Lou was a member of our fire department, also at one time of our police force, and was well and favorably known by a large circle of our citizens.”
Like his father, Joseph Goebel worked for the C.H.&D. Railroad. He also was active in local politics, serving several terms on Lima City Council. He was married to the former Mary J. Murray and the couple had five children. He died at the age of 78 in 1935.
Andrew Goebel worked at several factories in Lima before, sometime around the turn of the century, taking a job at the Government Printing Office in Washington, D.C. He and his wife, Marian, had eight children.
It was to Andrew Goebel’s home that his sister, Dr. Anna Goebel, went in the fall of 1913 “hoping that the treatment of the eastern physicians might relieve a condition which was becoming more aggravated,” according to the Times-Democrat.
Anna Goebel, the Times-Democrat wrote, “got her early education in the Lima public schools, graduating from the Lima high school in one of the early classes. She then went to the Ursuline Convent at Toledo, and later to the Female Medical College in Philadelphia.”
After spending a year “in hospital work in Detroit, to better acquaint herself with the chosen profession,” the newspaper added, “she then went to the University of Michigan, medical department, and after a three years’ course there, came to this this city and opened a general practice. Here the best years of her life was spent. She was widely known and all had implicit confidence in her ability as a physician.”
When her mother fell ill in 1898, the Times-Democrat noted, “Dr. Anna Goebel remained with her almost constantly …” And, when her brother, Philip Goebel, a Lima policeman, was shot, she also tended to him.
After Philip Goebel’s death in 1902, the newspaper wrote, her “health began to break” and she eventually was forced to give up her practice to seek treatment. “She spent some time in France, there being treated. When, after her return, her trouble continued, and every possible treatment in this country was tried.”
Next week: Philip Goebel and John Bay Goebel
Reach Greg Hoersten at firstname.lastname@example.org.