More than 100 years and one courthouse tragedy after he served the local public, the desk of one prominent Carroll County official is back in the family and now on display for the public.
The desk of Dexter Goad, who served as Carroll County’s Clerk of the Circuit Court during the 1912 shootout that left five people dead and rocked the nation, has been donated to the Carroll County Historical Society by local attorney Joe McGrady. McGrady made the donation to honor Carroll County’s newest Clerk of Circuit Court, Gerald Goad, who is Dexter’s great-great nephew. The desk is now on display in the historical society’s museum located in the old Carroll County Courthouse.
McGrady began his own law practice in Carroll County in March of 1973. Within a year after he started, his great aunt, Maude McGrady Safewright, said she wanted McGrady to have Dexter Goad’s rolltop desk because he was the first person on that side of the family to become a lawyer.
“She had acquired it from Dexter’s daughter-in-law, Belva Goad, and I think they were related. I had a group of people help me get it in the house, where it has been for almost 43 years now. Both my sons, Jonathan and Chad, used it to do homework on,” McGrady said. “It’s been there all those years and I just felt like this was the appropriate time. I wanted to give it in honor of Gerald because Dexter was his great-great uncle, being elected Clerk of Court. I thought there was a lot of irony all the way through all of this and I felt like it belonged in a museum in Carroll County because Dexter was such a historical figure here.”
Gerald Goad, who began serving as Carroll’s Clerk of Court in January, said it’s an honor and blessing to not only serve, but to have such a tie-in with a significant historical aspect of the county.
“I can’t thank Joe McGrady and his family enough for this tremendous dedication. I want to also thank Greg Goad, who is actually a distant relative of mine,” Gerald Goad said. “Dexter was my great-great uncle and his niece, Opal McPeak Goad, is my grandma and she turned 100 back in June. So it’s been a remarkable year not only being an elected official but also the milestones we’ve made in our family.”
Ironically, while Gerald Goad became the first Democrat to be elected to a constitutional office in Carroll County in several decades, his great-great uncle Dexter was a staunch Republican. It is one of many ironies in the entire story, McGrady said.
“He was close friends with my great-great uncle William Foster, who had been elected twice as a Democrat and then turn-coated and became a Republican. They were very close friends, so there are all kinds of little ironies to this,” McGrady said. “Another little irony besides the boys doing homework on this, I kept bullets in it all the time. This is where I stashed extra bullets. In fact we found a spent hull in it when we cleaned it before we donated it. Another irony is, and I’m not going to say the name, but a prominent Republican here thought it was something I had as a Republican trophy in my house all these years.”
Yet another coincidence is the fact that Greg Goad, who is distantly related to Gerald, and accepted the donation on behalf of the Carroll County Historical Society, is a lawyer in Hillsville in an office on land Dexter Goad used to own. It’s location? The corner of Dexter Street and Main Street, of course.
“To have his desk here in the old courthouse where his office was is great for the historical society,” Greg Goad said.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN