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"The Kansas Audubon"

Nathaniel Stickney Goss (1826-1891)

Colonel Nathaniel Stickney Goss is a sixth generation descendant of George and Hannah (Chandler) Abbott (Parmelia Abbott Goss5, Benjamin4, Benjamin3, Thomas2, George1). He was the youngest of four children of Nathaniel and Parmelia (Abbott) Goss, born at Lancaster, New Hampshire, 7 June 1826.

The story is that father Nathaniel lost his property in New Hampshire and consequently moved his family to Wisconsin when the children were adolescents and young adults. In was in Waukesha, Wisconsin, that Nathaniel Stickney married his first cousin, Emeline “Emma” Brown who was born in New Hampshire about 1834 daughter of William J. and Lydia Emeline (Goss) Brown. Emma’s mother and Nathaniel’s father were siblings.

After their marriage, Nathaniel S. and Emma headed to Iowa where Nathaniel S. first thought he might go into the banking business. It was there that tragedy struck when Emma died after just two years of marriage. Nathaniel never remarried. Less than a year after the death of his beloved wife, Nathaniel and a friend headed to Kansas and he was an early settler in the area that was later known as Neosha Falls. He built a saw mill and a grist mill with the financial support of a brother-in-law and his father-in-law William J. Brown.

Nathaniel S. was successful in his ventures in Kansas and has been called "father of Neosha Valley." He served as postmaster, played a major role in the development of the first county fairs, and later served as the registrar of the land office in Humboldt.

Nathaniel S. also served in the Kansas militia commissioned Major in 1860 and achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Throughout his life, Nathaniel S. engaged in his passion of ornithology and collecting bird specimens. He did this throughout Kansas, but also across North America. His ambition was to have specimens of every bird species of North America in his collection. His travels in his attempts to accomplish this task included trips to Guatemala, Mexico, and Honduras between 1882 and 1889. During these trips he collected specimens for 242 species of Central American birds. He collected specimens of 154 birds of Kansas. On his trips, Nathaniel Stickney was often accompanied by his brother Benjamin Franklin Goss a noted oologist. In 1881, Goss donated his entire collection to the State of Kansas with the provision that it be named the Goss Ornithological Collection. The collection remained under his personal supervision during his lifetime.

Nathaniel Stickney Goss collapsed and died at age 64 while walking down the street in Neosha Falls. His body was taken to Topeka and lay in state and the Kansas State Senate.

In his will dated 22 August 1889, Nathaniel Stickney Goss requested that he be buried with his beloved wife at his cemetery plot in Topeka. His will also included bequests of his bird cases and collection and his library to the State of Kansas, but these two provisions were rescinded in a 1891 codicil. He also requested that the portion of his estate that was in lands and personal property be sold and the proceeds be in interest bearing accounts, and that annually the interest be divided in equal thirds among his three siblings sister Sarah L. Clark and T.L. Clark her husband, sister Mary N. Waterman and her husband J.H. Waterman, and brother B.F. Goss.


Photo Credit: The Wilson Bulletin, volume 44, 1932

Goss, Nathaniel S. History of the birds of Kansas. GW Crane, 1891.

Jackson, Mary E. “Col. N. S. Goss”, Topeka pen and camera sketches. GW Crane, 1890, pp 124-130.

Kansas, Wills and Probate Records, 1803-1987 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Kansas, County, District and Probate Courts.

Lantz, D. E. "A List of Birds Collected by Col. N. S. Goss in Mexico and Central America." Transactions of the Annual Meetings of the Kansas Academy of Science 16 (1897): 218-24. doi:10.2307/3623718.

State of Kansas. General Laws of the State of Kansas, Session Laws of 1881, Kansas State Journal, p 215.

Taylor, H. J. "Snow and Goss, the pioneers in Kansas ornithology." The Wilson Bulletin 44, no. 3 (1932): 158-169.

The Topeka State Journal, 10 Jun 1922, p 5, “One-Time Bird Man Now Long Forgot”

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