Wednesday, August 09, 2017


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: H.E. Godwin

Harry Earl Godwin was born in Richardsville, Pennsylvania on November 29, 1874. A family tree at named the birthplace and Godwin’s World War I draft card had the birth date and full name.

The 1880 U.S. Federal Census recorded Godwin as the oldest of three children born to William, an English emigrant and jeweler, and Matilda. They resided in Richland Township, Pennsylvania. At some point the Godwins moved to Butler, Pennsylvania.

Godwin was profiled in the Editor & Publisher, May 12, 1917, which said:

…As a kid he realized that he had a mission in life, so he climbed oil derricks in Brookville, Pa. He wanted to start in at the top. From the hurricane deck of the derrick he drew pictures, and then the family moved to Butler, Pa. He drew his first newspaper picture for the Times of that city, when the paper was printed on a Washington hand press by the proprietors. Here he gained confidence in himself, and went to Pittsburgh “scratching” chalk plates and blowing his head off for the Post. He went from the Post to the Chronicle-Telegraph, and later to the Gazette, and then to the Dispatch, all the while digging trenches in chalk plates.

Then he hit New York, where he free lanced with varying success in comics, going back to the Dispatch as a pen-and-ink man. Philadelphia looked good to him, so he went over there and sold full page comics to the Press, North American, and Inquirer; was art manager of the Bulletin, and later cartoonist of the Telegraph. Then he got homesick, and returned to Pittsburgh, but later went back to Grand Rapids, Mich., and Chicago, and now he is back at the desk in the Pittsburgh Dispatch office that he used fifteen years ago.
The Butler Citizen noted several of Godwin’s activities. On May 5, 1893, the Citizen said “Harry Godwin will shortly start on a photographing trip through the county. His Portable Gallery was built by himself and father and is a neat bit of work.” The November 24, 1898  issue noted “Harry Godwin will draw pictures for the New York World, in the near future.” On March 30, 1899 the paper wrote “Harry Godwin who has been working for the Pittsburgh Dispatch, came home Monday evening.” The August 16, 1900 Citizen reported “Harry Godwin now has a good position on the Pittsburgh Chronicle-Telegraph. He and his wife, a daughter of Alex Russell, visited friends in Butler over Sunday.”

In the 1900 census, artist Godwin was the oldest of five children. Godwin’s father worked as a photographer. The family lived in Butler at 442 North Bluff Street.

Godwin was on the move in 1901. The Citizen, February 21, 1901, said “Harry Godwin and wife of Allegheny spent Sunday with their friends in Butler. Harry is now the artist of the Chronicle-Telegraph.” Several months later, the August 8, 1901 Citizen wrote “Harry Godwin, who for a year past has been on the pictorial staff of the Chronicle-Telegraph, has secured a better position as cartoonist on the Boston Post.” Godwin’s next move was noted in the Citizen, October 10, 1901, “Harry Godwin now has a studio in Philadelphia. He had two pages of the colored supplement of the Press, Sunday.”

Godwin’s whereabouts were listed in Pittsburgh city directories. In 1903 Godwin was a Dispatch cartoonist who lived at 1316 Federal. Directories from 1905 to 1915 listed Godwin at 1412 5th Avenue. He has not yet been found in the 1910 census.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Godwin created several comic series, from 1902 to 1903 for the Philadelphia Inquirer, which were Rube Green, Sly Sam and Shy Sue, Swapping Si, Crazy Charlie, Jack Horner, Dorothy and Bess, and The Little Quakers. For the Philadelphia Evening Telegraph, Godwin drew Smudge and Stub in 1904. During 1910 Godwin produced Mr. and Mrs. Getrichquick, and Grandpa Scattergood for the McClure Syndicate.

The family tree said Godwin was married to Ida Reno who died in 1918.

On September 12, 1918, Godwin signed his World War I draft card. His address was unchanged. The Dispatch cartoonist named his second wife, Sarah, as his nearest relative. Godwin was described as tall, small build with blue eyes and light brown hair.

The 1920 census said Godwin, a widower, was at the same address and continued as a newspaper cartoonist.

In 1921 Godwin illustrated John Mellor’s The Rhyme of the Woodman’s Dream and Other Poems.

A 1929 Pittsburgh directory listed Godwin as a commercial artist at 408 Aronson Building. He resided in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania.

According to the 1930 census, newspaper cartoonist Godwin was in his brother’s household in Butler, Pennsylvania at 500 South Main. The family tree said Godwin’s brother, Guy, died in 1932.

The Pittsburgh Press, December 6, 1939, reported the death of Godwin’s mother and said:

Mrs. Caroline Godwin, mother of Harry E. Godwin, former Pittsburgh newspaper artist and cartoonist, now of Buffalo, N. Y., is to be buried this afternoon from the McDonald Funeral Home, Mars, Pa. Mrs. Godwin, born in Jefferson County near Brookville, 87 years ago, was a resident of Butler, Pa., 50 years, until the death of her husband, William J. Godwin, in 1925. Mr. Godwin died in the home of her daughter, Mrs. E. L. Marshall, of Mars, who until five years ago was a resident of Shadyside. She was a member of the Second Presbyterian Church, Butler. Besides her son, Harry, and her daughter, Mrs. Marshall, Mrs. Godwin is survived by another daughter, Mrs. J. W. Allen, of Pittsburgh.
The date and place of Godwin’s passing is not known.

—Alex Jay


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