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The Goebel Ghoul


In modern times, no event has had such far-reaching effects on Kentucky politics as the assassination of William Goebel in 1900.  Goebel, a Bryan Democrat and an implacable foe of the Nashville and Louisville Railroad, has been described by one biographer as “the first New Dealer.”  While the results of the gubernatorial election of 1899 were still being debated in Frankfort, Goebel was shot on January 30, 1900 by a rifleman who has never been positively identified.  He died February 3, 1900, or at least his good friends give that date.  Soon after he was shot, election officials declared Goebel the governor or Kentucky.

            Outside of Princeton, Kentucky stands a two-story house built by Flournoys in the early 19th century.  As early as 1890 rumors began to circulate that the house was haunted.  Hardy souls who spent the night in the house claim to have heard rattling chains, strains from a funeral march, and so on.  The ghost is said to have scribbled a verse on the walls in blue crayon as follows:


Remember the Maine

Goebel the same,

A humble man of moral ways

Lies murdered in his greatest days

As long as the stand these walls proclaim

The glory of his shining name

Who disturbs the walls shall find

The bounty of his curse in rhyme


Chains shall bind thee, Bats shall tear

Out your eyes, nest in your hair:

Oh guard these thoughts of mine

Ye haunts that lived in Goebel’s time


Mike Hinchcliffe                      Henry Clay High School