Deputy to be memorialized 112 years after shooting death
Webster Parish Sheriff's Deputy Christopher Goodwill was shot and killed in the line of duty in May 1901.
Now, 112 years later, a national organization would like to pay tribute to Goodwill by engraving his name on a memorial wall.
"The Goodwill family were residents in Minden, and a fairly prominent family," said Sheriff Gary Sexton, who was recently contacted about Goodwill by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
"That organization does a lot of research in order to honor law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty," said the sheriff. "When they contacted me, I said 'no, I don't know of anybody in Webster Parish – not a deputy – that was killed doing his job.'"
So, Sexton went to the Webster Parish Library, while WPSO Capt. Dustin Reynolds searched the Internet to find out what they could about Goodwill's death.
According to a newspaper article in the Webster Signal in 1901, Goodwill was killed by a black male named Dock Dickson, who had reportedly murdered another black male named Joe Ellison who owned a local boarding house where Dickson was a resident.
"On appearing at Joe's place Dickson was asked for the price of a meal, which he took there Sunday," according to the article. "On refusing to pay it, he was ordered out of the house by Joe. On turning to leave, Dickson deliberately leveled his pistol at Ellison and fired, shooting him through the heart, killing him instantly."
Sexton said local law enforcement felt the fleeing Dickson would try to leave town by train.
"Deputy Goodwill got in a foot pursuit of Dickson down the train tracks," Sexton said. "It was about eleven o'clock at night, and there wasn't any light. Goodwill came up on him, and Dickson stepped out and shot Goodwill, who returned fire, emptying his gun."
According to the article, "... it is said by the Sheriff that after the first shot his (Goodwill's) aim, judging from the flash of his pistol, seemed to be unsteady.
"As soon as Mr. Goodwill emptied his pistol he fell, expiring immediately, the ball having penetrated his heart and coming out at the back," the article continued.
The story was picked up by "cable" and reported in the Dallas Morning News, The Picayune of New Orleans, The St. Louis Republic, in St. Louis, Missouri and Houston Daily Post.
On June 2, 1901, it was reported, "The dead body of Dock Dickson was found floating in Dorchette (sic) Lake, three miles from Sibley, La. this morning. Dickson was the negro who, while resisting arrest at Minden on May 28 shot Christopher Goodwill through the heart killing him instantly. Dickson then fled. It is thought he committed suicide."
Sexton said it was rumored that Dickson was killed by a vigilante group.
On May 8, Goodwill's memory will be honored at Lake Lawn Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans during the 12th Annual Louisiana Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Ceremony.
Then, along with fallen law enforcement officers from all over the country, Goodwill's name will be added to the wall of a memorial during a candlelight vigil on May 13 at Judiciary Square in Washington, DC.
"We want help finding descendants of the Goodwill family, in case they would be interested in attending these ceremonies," Sexton said. "I want them to know that this memorial in Metairie is going to take place. We will have some representatives there."
Webster Parish historian John Agan said Goodwill was the son of Captain Alfred Goodwill and Elizabeth Farley Goodwill.
"I do not think he (Christopher) ever married, so there won't be any direct descendants from him," Agan said. "Captain Goodwill had two wives and more than 10 children so there are lots of connections. Christopher Goodwill's half-sister Olive married the son of Governor Murphy J. Foster and her grandson was Governor Mike Foster."
Anyone with information concerning the Goodwill family, should contact Sheriff Gary Sexton through Victoria Chreene or Debbie Haynes at the Webster Parish Sheriff's Office, 377-1515 ext. 4.
The following is the orginal artical as it appeared in the Webster Signal on May 31, 1901.
A DOUBLE MURDER!
Mr. Chris Goodwill is Shot and Instantly Killed
By a Desperate Negro Whom He was Trying to Arrest - Negro Had Just Murdered Another in Cold-Blood and was Trying to Get Away.
Wednesday morning about 1 o'clock there occurred near the depot one of the most deplorable tragedies that has ever taken place in the history of the town, when Mr. Chris Goodwill was mercilessly shot down and instantly killed by a desperate negro whom he was trying to arrest.
Tuesday night about 11 o'clock a negro who goes by the name of Dock Dickson and who is known as a gambler and a desperate character, came in on the log train and immediately repaired to a negro dive near the stave factory kept by Joe Ellison. On appearing at Joe's place Dickson was asked for the price of a meal which he took there Sunday. On refusing to pay it, he was ordered out of the house by Joe. On turning to leave, Dickson deliberately leveled his pistol at Ellison and fired, shooting him through the heart, killing him instantly.
Marshal Sullivan and Sheriff Griffith were notified and immediately repaired to the scene of the shooting. Mr. Chris Goodwill, hearing of the trouble, also went over, arriving to the scene shortly after the officered reached there. The officers, thinking that the negro would probably get away on the log train that was then unloading at the mill, repaired to the depot, accompanied by Mr. Goodwill, to await the coming of the train which they proposed to flag down at the station and if possible effect the capture of the murderer.
While awaiting the coming of the train a negro was seen running at full speed down the open space near the railroad. The two officers and Mr. Goodwill gave chase, the latter being in the lead. They crowded the negro so that he dodged behind the tool house a short ways down the track. As Mr. Goodwill came up, the negro opened fire on him without warning and at short range. It is thought that the negro's first shot took effect. While Mr. Goodwill courageously stood his ground, emptying his pistol at the negro, yet it is said by the Sheriff that after the first shot his aim, judging from the flash of his pistol, seemed unsteady. As soon as Mr. Goodwill emptied his pistol he fell, expiring immediately, the ball having penetrated his heart and coming out at the back. The shooting was all done in a few seconds and Mr. Sullivan came up from the opposite direction the negro had turned and was running at full speed. He fired on the fleeing negro, but it is not known whether he was hit either by Mr. Goodwill or Mr. Sullivan.
The news of the terrible tragedy soon spread over the town and in a short while a large crowd of our citizens had gathered around the dead body of their murdered friend and relative. Later the body was removed to the home of the murdered man's sister, Mrs. W.H. Bryce, where it was prepared for burial.
The tragic death of Mr. Goodwill at the hands of an infuriated negro brute has caused considerable excitement not only in town but throughout the surrounding country and the citizen s as well as the officers of the law are doing everything in their power to capture the murderer. The negro is known as Dock Dickson and is said to hail from Lufkin, Tex. He is a light ginger-cake color; 22 years old; weighs about 150 lbs; has two front teeth knocked out, and is known as a gambler and a desperate character. The sheriff has offered $100 reward for his arrest.
Mr. Chris Goodwill was the son of Capt. Goodwill, one of Minden's oldest and most prominent citizens, and his tragic death has cast a deep gloom over the entire community. His remains were entered in the Minden Cemetery Wednesday evening at 6 o'clock, the services being impressively conducted by Dr. W. H. Dodson of the Baptist church, a large concourse of our citizens being present to pay a last sad tribute to the memory of their friend and relative.