Trying to Solve the Godford’s Corcial – Godfrey’s Cordial Monument

Having a difficult time finding the book in which I first saw mention of this monument at the Old Center Methodist Church Cemetery in Newville, Alabama, but the gist is that it’s a mistake — that is, the inscription is a misinterpretation from the note of a grieving parent to someone who could place an order in a larger town for not only a headstone, but also Godfrey’s Cordial, which was a drug that “relieved teething children, eased the spasms of whooping cough, and allowed grateful parents to get some sleep.”

Godford's Cordial Mistake Monument, Old Center Methodist Church, Newville AL

When the headstone came to Newville to be installed, it was only then, according to legend, that the realization was made that the stone carver made the Brannan’s daughter’s name “Godford Corcial”:

Godford's Cordial Mistake Monument, Old Center Methodist Church, Newville AL

I’ve tried to figure out the daughter’s true name, but the genealogy gets so confusing. When I look up the parents here, Sarah Jane (5.10.1834 – 12.16.1918) and James Edward Brannan (5.16.1833 – 6.14.1904), in the 1860 census, he is listed as a farmer, and he and Sarah Jane have children:

Rosier, who is 8 (James’ father is also named Rosier)
Curtis, who is 6 (James’ older brother is also named Curtis)
James, who is 4 (which would be James Jr)
William, who is 1

That would mean this daughter (misidentified as Godfrey Corcial) hasn’t yet been born, and they would likely have other very young children in the household at that point, if they needed Godfrey’s Cordial, unless that medication order was for another family.

In the 1870 census, they’re living in Dale County AL, and among the children:

Rosier, who is 18
Curtis, 16
Edward, 14 (so looks like they’re calling James Edward by his middle name)
William, 12
Jesse, 9
Sarah, 7
John, 3
R A (a daughter), 1

In the 1880 census, children in the household are:

Jesse, 19
Sarah, 16
John W, 13
Rhoda Ann, 10
Shelby (son), 9
Noah, 6
Norah, 6
Mary, 3 — this is Mary Costilla

At first, I thought which daughter this is could be solved with the 1890 census, but perhaps this is the reason it can’t be accessed.

In the 1900 census, it shows James and Sarah Jane as still married, that they’re living in Dale County, Alabama, both born 1833 (which doesn’t look to be exact, as she was born in 1834), and that Sarah Jane has had 12 children, 11 of whom are still living. We know that Curtis passed away in 1896, so counting this daughter whose passing is listed on the stone as 1887, wouldn’t that mean Sarah Jane has had 13 and by 1900, only 11 are living?

The genealogy on this one isn’t the easiest. There are a *ton* of Brannans in this cemetery. Also, my research here is from internet searches of Ancestry, FindAGrave, and FamilySearch, so I’m going from those sources — there may be an error(s).

Curtis lived 1854-1896
Mary Costilla, who married a Riley, lived 1876-1964
Jesse lived 1860-1939

Their son Rosier died in 1931 in Illinois.
James Edward died 1919.
William died 1933.
Sarah died 1938.
John, 1910.
Rhoda Ann, 1950.
Shelby, 1949.
Noah, 1938.
Norah, 1959.

I think that has all the daughters accounted for. The daughter that died in 1887 with this monument was likely born in 1887 or perhaps 1886 depending on the month, because it reads “Our Infant” at the top of that monument.

That would make this daughter child #13 for Sarah Jane, whereas…again…she reports having 12 children total in the 1900 census.

So, so, so confusing. I’d love to figure out which is this sweet child so they can be memorialized by their given name. If you’re family and you know, or a genealogist who has this solved, please contact me. Thank you!

Godford's Cordial Mistake Monument, Old Center Methodist Church, Newville AL