Back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s it was still somewhat considered to be the “wild west” and became all too clear on the Morning of January 30, 1900. The Democratic nominee for the Kentucky State Governorship, Willaim Goebel, was in a heated battle with William S. Taylor, the Republican nominee. The two had gone back and fourth in the coming months of the election and when it came down to it Taylor won by the narrowest of margins.
The numbers were apparently close enough to cause suspicion and soon accusations started flying around about falsified votes. Not one to give up easily, Goebel contested the matter and demanded a recount. He was known to have a very abrasive personality and over the course of his political career he had acquired many enemies. The election was held on November 7th, 1899 and it took some time for the results to be investigated.
As Goebel was reported to be walking to the Old State Capitol in Frankfort on the morning of January 30, 1900, when all the sudden 5 or 6 shots rang out. One of which struck Goebel in the chest giving him a very serious gunshot wound. He was taken to a local hospital where he remained in critical condition. The very next day the results came in regarding the recount investigation and it was determined there was indeed voter fraud. Due to the results of the recount, it was now clear that Goebel had clearly won the election. On that very day, just one day after he had been shot and even though he lay there on his deathbed, Goebel was sworn into office as the Governor of Kentucky.
He, unfortunately, passed away the afternoon of February 3, 1900, just four days after being sworn in. In his brief time as Governor, he still managed to get something accomplishes, no matter how small it may have been. He signed a proclamation that would dissolve a militia group that his predecessor, Taylor, had formed in the aftermath of Goebel’s assassination.
There was a total of sixteen people that ended up receiving indictments for the assassination of William Goebel. One of those names was William S Taylor. many people felt he had major involvement in the plot to take out Goebel but the evidence was never brought before the court. Several men were convicted of the crime but later received pardons from Governor Augustus Wilson. According to many historians, the actual assassin of Governor Goebel remains a mystery and it’s very unlikely that there will ever be conclusive evidence of their identity.