The story of one of Salem's long-time families begins with Thomas Lowell Golden who emigrated over the Oregon trail, not once but twice. Family lore tells that he was involved with Kit Carson when he first came out from St. Louis, Missouri. In 1869, he settled in the Albany area where he opened his "oculist and aurist" (eyes and ears) practice. T.L. soon married Nancy Annhing Patton, daughter of William T. Patton, another early emigrant who lived in the Waldo Hills area. The Goldens also had a farm in the Sherburn area of Linn County. The family moved to Salem around 1875 into a house on Liberty Street NE, the more recent site of a former well-known restaurant, Knopp's Golden Pheasant. T.L. relocated his practice to an office on Commercial Street, near the Ladd & Bush Bank. [Note: the Golden Family graciously provided us with all the visual resources we use in this post.]
When the United States became embroiled in World War I, many young men in Salem signed up to do their part. The Salem National Guard Armory was base for two companies, M & L, who were called up for active duty. One of these young men in Company M proudly marching off to military service in 1917 was Virgil Thomas Golden, known as "Tommy," seen in the portrait to the left.
Virgil Thomas and Grace S. Golden opened their own business, Virgil T. Golden Mortuary, in 1949 at a location hand-picked by Virgil at 605 Commercial Street S. The family states that the site was purchased from the family of William Willson, the gentleman who originally platted Salem and for whom the Willson Park adjacent to the Capitol Building is named.
The family's use of Thomas as a given name continued into a third generation with Virgil T.'s son being named Thomas Curtis Golden. Tom C., as he was known, married Ethelwyne DeLapp of West Salem in 1957. Their children were named Anne and, for the fourth generation, Thomas Patrick. After a three-year stint in the Army, Tom C. joined the family business in 1960.
Thomas Patrick and his wife Deena Eriksen (high school sweethearts) named their children Katrina and Tommy, carrying the name into a fifth generation. Tom P. has twin grandsons whose middle names are Thomas, entering a sixth generation. Following a short career in photography, Tom P. also joined the family business about 33 years ago, extending their family's legacy of leadership and community involvement into a third generation.
The character of Salem has been formed through the years by its residents, how they take care of one another, and their foresighted visions. Such deep roots as the Goldens possess keep us all standing tall and sturdy, and hopeful for the future of our community.