Sunday, August 26, 2001

Park named after former governor

By Gene Franzen
Enquirer Contributor

        COVINGTON — Bordered by Interstate 75 on the west and Covington's MainStrasse on the east, Goebel Park is a peaceful oasis void of the mayhem and controversy associated with the park's namesake.

        William Goebel grew up in Covington and graduated from Cincinnati Law School in 1877. He partnered with several law firms in Covington and was elected to the Kentucky state Senate in 1887.

[photo] The Carroll Chimes bell tower occupies a spot in Covington's Goebel Park.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        While his friends referred to him as a “dedicated reformer,” his adversaries called him a “ruthless, heartless demagogue.”

        Either way, he took his politics seriously. In 1895 he was acquitted in the shooting death of a political opponent, John Sandford, in Covington.

        In 1899 Goebel won the Democratic nomination for governor, splitting the party in the process. He then lost the election to Republican William Taylor by 2,383 votes.

        Democrats protested, and after many of the votes were declared fraudulent, Goebel was declared the winner. The Republicans refused to accept the decision and Kentucky had two governors.

        An assassin tried to settle the dispute, shooting Goebel to death near the Capitol building. The courts eventually decided in favor of the Democrats and Goebel became the only Northern Kentuckian ever elected governor posthumously.

        Sixteen people were indicted in the assassination; five went to trial and three were found guilty. Those three were later pardoned.

        Goebel is the only U.S. governor to die from wounds from an assassin while in office.

        James C. Klotter wrote in his biography of Goebel, “Who killed William Goebel? We do not know, nor may we ever.”
       Now and Then, a look at historic places in Northern Kentucky, appears Sundays in The Kentucky Enquirer. To suggest a feature, call 578-5555.


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- Park named after former governor
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