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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces an article in the
Washington Post
Apr. 2, 1895

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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please let me know!

Placed in the Asylum

A Marshal's Jury Pronounces Col. Gooding Insane.

His Case like that of Guiteau

Several Witnesses Tell of His Strange Hallucinations — He Believed that Prominent St. Louis Ladies Wished to Marry Him — Once a Candidate for Governor and an Influential Man in Political Circles — Feared His Books Would Be Stolen.

The petition for inquiry into the sanity of Col. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Oliver P. Gooding, a graduate of West Point and formerly of St. Louis, which was filed in equity Saturday, was heard yesterday before a marshal's jury, and he was adjudged insane. The jurors were C. C. Duncanson, A. F. Fox, O. C. Green, Dorsey Clagett, R. H. Hazard, Charles L. Gurley, W. J. Hoffman, John Mitchell, P. M. Hough, William B. Holtzclaw, Joseph C. Taylor, William Mayse, and C. H. Ruoff. Attorney for the District S. T. Thomas conducted the case on the part of the government. Marshal A. A. Wilson presided at the trial.

Detectives Mattingly, Boyd, and Quinlan took the insane man into custody a little later at the Oxford Hotel, and he was sent to St. Elizabeth's Asylum.

Dr. D. P. Hickling and Dr. J. R. Nevitt were both called before the jury, and testified that they had examined Col. Gooding about a week ago, with a view to ascertaining his mental condition. They were of the opinion that he is insane and an improper person to be at large.

Dr. W. W. Godding, the superintendent of St. Elizabeth's Asylum, had not made a personal examination of Col. Gooding, but stated that he had read portions of Col. Gooding's books, "The People's Holy Bible," published in this city early during the present year, and one published previously under the title, "The People's God vs. The Monarchic God."​a From his examination of these books Dr. Godding said he should pronounce the author an insane man. He believed that the case was parallel to that of Guiteau, the assassin of President Garfield.

Mr. Thomas then read extracts from these books, especially the one last published, in which the author maintains that an enormous conspiracy has been formed against him on account of his former political connections in the city of St. Louis, where he was at one time a member of the police commission. All the disasters of the year just passed, as well as the deaths of many prominent persons in Washington and elsewhere, are attributed in this book to the band of conspirators and murderers. These were read by Mr. Thomas, as well as other imaginary plots of poisonings and base intrigues.

Detective Mattingly Knew Him.

Detective J. W. Mattingly was then called before the jury and related how he had become acquainted with Col. Gooding and his queer actions in 1892, when he was requested by the chief of police to keep an eye out for the man. Mr. Mattingly recognized the two books mentioned as published by Col. Gooding, and said that the latter had often talked with him about them. He always regarded him as insane. He knew that he lived at the Oxford. He described Col. Gooding as a thick‑set man, about sixty years old, who dressed in a Prince Albert coat and walks for the most of the time with his head down.

Mr. O'Brien Moore, correspondent for the St. Louis Republic, said he had known Col. Gooding for about seven years, having known him in St. Louis. It was rumored, he said, that his brother, Hon. David S. Gooding, of Indiana, who was marshal of the District of Columbia under Johnson's administration, paid his expenses in Washington to keep him out of Indiana. Mr. Moore said that the colonel had annoyed persons from Missouri, sojourning in Washington, for a long time, and he was of the opinion that they would be willing to pay his expenses if he would live in Indiana. He said he had seen and heard much about the two books, the colonel having brought a great deal of the manuscript to him with a request that it be sent to St. Louis papers. He said Col. Gooding undoubtedly had hallucinations which began some time in the fall of 1887, when he began to believe that a wealthy and prominent lady of St. Louis had fallen in love with him and sent for him to come and marry her. He had come to Washington to secure a position, believing that the President would appoint him to a place in the regular Army as brigadier general.

A Good Man on the Stump.

Mr. Thomas had read from the book about a Mr. Lee and a Mr. Blair, who were written of in an uncomplimentary way, and Mr. Moore explained that these gentlemen were formerly members of the police commission in St. Louis with Col. Gooding, and on account of some political matters he had come to regard them as his enemies. After Mr. Moore had told of the colonel's bitterness toward the President and Missourians and of his hallucinations that other prominent women in St. Louis were desirous of marrying him as well as his supposed habit of carrying a pistol, Mr. Walter B. Stevens, also a newspaper correspondent, was called and gave further testimony in the same line. He said he had known Col. Gooding for about fifteen years. Formerly he was always in demand during political campaigns as an orator, because he had a fine presence on the stump, and had much power with the soldiers. At one time Col. Gooding announced himself as a candidate for Governor of Missouri. Mr. Stevens said he believed that Col. Gooding had some personal relations with President Cleveland during the campaign of 1884. Gooding subsequently fancied that prominent ladies in St. Louis were infatuated with him, and used to walk up and down the streets where they were shopping, rigged out in his best clothes. Col. Gooding had been in Washington since the beginning of the present administration, Mr. Stevens said, and wanted to be appointed as brigadier general on the retired list. Mr. Stevens said the Governor of Missouri had told him how Col. Gooding walked into the midst of one of their receptions in one of the cities of the State, where he pulled out two revolvers, announcing that they were loaded with powdered glass and that he was going to shoot the politicians who had been conspiring against him. Mr. Stevens agreed with Mr. Moore that Col. Gooding was supposed to have carried a pistol about with him while in the city. He also regarded him as an insane man and stated that he was bitter toward Missourians.

Feared His Books Would be Stolen.

Mr. Charles W. Terry, of the firm of Terry Brothers, printers, on Four-and‑a‑half street, told how they had printed the last book. He said the colonel had come to them with a request for bids on the work. These were submitted to him and accepted. Col. Gooding deposited the money for the work in the bank before the printing was done. He ordered 500 copies and took them away with great caution, for fear some one would steal them. The binding was done by a firm on Seventh street.

The last witness was Mr. A. L. Woude, clerk at the Hotel Oxford, who said Col. Gooding had stayed at their house for over fourteen months. He was a nice, kind old man, who never molested any one, and would not be thought insane except one talked to him. He told how the books had been brought to the hotel. They bought the only copy the colonel ever sold. Mr. Woude said the colonel always seemed to have money about him, although they did not know where he obtained it. He had a revolver which he carried when he first came to Washington. He had many hallucinations, among them that the food at the hotel was poisoned so that he refused to eat at the table for a long time, having his meals served in his room.

At the close of this witness' testimony the jury promptly returned a verdict of insanity.

Col. Gooding is a bachelor, and so far as the witnesses knew, has no property of his own. He served with distinction through the war, and is said to be entitled to a pension.

Thayer's Note:

a Both books are online in full at Archive.Org:

The People's Holy Bible

The People's God vs. The Monarchic God

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Page updated: 4 May 16