From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Combs, Richard "Tallow Dick"

Combs, a barber, was from Beattyville, KY. He was one of the ten men initially charged with complicity in the murder of William Goebel. While on his deathbed, Goebel had been named Governor of Kentucky following a very controversial and contested governor's race. Richard Combs was the only African American linked to the murder; though there was testimony during the trial that two Negroes had been hired to kill Goebel. W. H. Watts, a Negro janitor of the Adjunct General's Office in the Kentucky Executive Building, also testified in the case [it had only been since 1872 that Negro testimony was accepted in a Kentucky court]. Goebel had won the Democratic nomination for governor in 1899, was shot and mortally wounded January 30, 1900, while outside the Kentucky State Capitol Building, and died February 3, 1900. A senator from Kenton County, KY, he was sometimes described as ruthless, at other times as a reformer. As a reformer, he pushed for a number of changes, including more rights for women and Negroes, and he wanted to do away with lotteries and pool halls. For more see William Goebel in the Kentucky Encyclopedia; "Goebel suspects indicted," from Frankfort, KY in the New York Times, 04/19/1900, p. 1; "Prison cell for Powers," New York Times, 08/19/1900, p. 1; The First New Dealer, by U. Woodson; and V. Hazard, "The Black testimony controversy in Kentucky, 1866-1872," The Journal of Negro History, vol.58, issue 2 (April 1973), pp. 140-165.


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: The Kentucky encyclopedia
NKAA Source: The New York times (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The first new dealer, William Goebel; his origin, ambitions, achievements, his assassination, loss to the state and nation; the story of a great crime
NKAA Source: The Journal of Negro history (periodical)

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“Combs, Richard "Tallow Dick",” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed December 11, 2018,

Last modified: 2017-07-19 17:51:36