While the events of March 14, 1912 produced many villains, a notable heroine stands out. Jezebel Goad, the daughter of Deputy Dexter Goad, was in her father’s office the day of the Allen hearing. When she heard gunshots, she ran to the courtroom to see what was going on. Without a thought, she fought her way through the gunfire to help her father and aid the wounded.
Goad’s heroics were covered extensively in newspapers. The Lexington Gazette‘s account of August 7, 1912 read:
Instead of fainting or leaving the scene when the firing began, Miss Goad sought to enter the courtroom to go to her father. To gain entrance she was obliged to pull from the doorway a man who barred the way. Then she reached her father, and seeing that he was not badly hurt, she helped the wounded and dying.
According to Jerry Leonard’s Travesty of Justice, the Mount Airy News ran the following account of Jezebel Goad:
Of all the heroes you have read about in story and song none will measure up with Miss Jezebel Goad, the beautiful daughter who stood bravely by her father last Thursday. Talk about your women melting up pewter plates and carrying water from springs, when the men dared not go, all such stories took little by the side of what the Hillsville beauty did last Thursday when she saw her father in danger. She was in the clerk’s office when the fight started and she rushed into the bullet ridden room as if she had not one thought for her own safety. . .of all the heroes who were that day brought to light none will compare with Miss Jezebel. The man has never yet been born who is worthy of such a woman.(p. 59)
For her bravery, Jezebel Goad was awarded a gold medal by the governor’s wife, Mrs. William Hodges Mann.
I’ve always had a great deal of admiration for Miss Goad. She stepped up in a situation where few would have dared. What we were told, when I was growing up, was that she ducked behind her father’s desk (a formidable piece of furniture), and reloaded her father’s guns for him. My Aunt by marriage is a relative of Dexter and Jezebel. What I do wish people would remember, is that Claude Allen was doing the same thing, in a more direct fashion: protecting his father. For which, he died. In the late 1970s, I saw Miss Jezebel, as we were both attending a play. I was a teenager, and dared not try to speak to her, although my father had once attempted to contact her. He was politely, but firmly refused. You see, we are Allens….
What a great story–wow! Thank you for sharing your comments–it’s details like those you’ve described that are the reason this story continues to fascinate.
Unfortunately, the story of the heroics of Jezebel Goad was fiction and was so stated by Dexter Goad himself in court testimony. Even the reporter who concocted the story wrote somewhat of a retraction. Never the less, Etta Donnan Mann, the governor’s wife, designed a gold medal to be struck for Ms Goad.
Ms Goad was evidently embarrassed by the whole thing and never would discuss the matter for the rest of her life.
Ms Goad never reloaded her father’s pistols; One of his pistols jammed and he emptied the other in the courtroom. At that point, he took a .38 revolver from Peter Easter and went to the top of the south stairs, from which point he wounded both Sidna and Floyd Allen.
It is virtually worthless to quote newspaper articles about the event; they are more fiction than fact.
Jezebel Goad went on to follow in her father’s footsteps as Court Clerk, but was never popular in the county; too many locals knew the true story of her deeds.
Most of we who grew up with either some of the principals to the “Tragedy,” or knew their families and even had family involved in the greater scenario as it unfolded [Peter Easter, for example, was my own Great Great Uncle and it would appear that Jack Allen was also a Great Great Uncle], know all too well the mythos which developed following the shoot-out. Politics is dirty and the winners always write the history and put on the plays. Unfortunately, much of that myth was generated in order to make the Hillsville Clique appear heroic while attempting to make the Allen family seem dull, boorish and even ignorant. In order to understand the true nature and bent of the times it is necessary to study, and include for scholarly analysis, the publications of the day. Only then is it possible to gain a true understanding of the possible prejudices of the time. It should be obvious to even the most casual observer that there was little love lost between either the Leonard or the Easter Families during that period especially in as much as my Great Great Uncle Peter Easter was one of the Deputies involved in both the arrest of the Edwards boys and the Hillsville shootout. However, from other reports, Floyd Allen, who was probably still a law enforcement officer at the time of his trial and execution appointed by the very Judge that he was later accused of having killed either by conspiracy or on his own; it is also apparent that Floyd had a respect for my own Great Grandfather David Lindsey Leonard who intervened between Floyd Allen and some drunks who had appeared at Flower Gap Church on one occasion. We, who deal with real evidence and have done so for most of our professional lives, must consider all aspects of any given crime or story – most especially when the source(s) are obviously prejudiced from the outset, and any scholar or “investigator” worth his salt would certainly include those sources so that the triers of fact – in this case the public – can come to the most valid conclusion. Mr. Rufus Gardner, my Father’s friend, realized this even back in the 1960’s, when he wrote, and gave to me, one of the first truly definitive books on the subject shootout. So did my Father when he explained the drama and pointed out each bullet hole to my wide young eyes. Especially when I came to know as my mentor and friend the wonderfully spiritual and gentle brother of the Edwards boys, as well as having grown up knowing the former Maude Iroller and others, I came to understand that most of what was reported regarding both the “Tragedy” and the people involved was largely fiction, but a fiction that had to be investigated, reported upon and exposed in order to arrive at the truth. Even the most naive of the “Johnny Come Latelys” must realize how important it is to show how the journalistic deck among the newspapers of the time were solidly stacked against the Allens, and thus the convictions and executions were a foregone conclusion.
Jerry W. Leonard, J.D., Ph.D.
US CI Special Agent-in-Charge (Retired)
Author: A Travesty of Justice
In reference to the foregoing, I meant to say: “It should be obvious to even the most casual observer that there was little love lost between “THE ALLENS” and either the Leonard or the Easter Families during that period especially in as much as my Great Great Uncle Peter Easter was one of the Deputies involved in both the arrest of the Edwards boys and the Hillsville shootout.”