Jezebel Goad: Heroine of Hillsville

Illustration of Jezebel Goad used in many newspapers after the courtroom shooting

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:

Photograph of Jezebel Goad from the Washington Times Aug. 9, 1912

“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.

Front page of the Richmond Virginian March 21, 1912.

To read newspaper coverage of Jezebel Goad, visit these links on Chronicling America:



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3 Responses to Jezebel Goad: Heroine of Hillsville

  1. Linda says:

    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….

    • Kelley says:

      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.

  2. Ron Hall says:

    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.

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