For a long time tensions had been building over control of the
profits from gambling and other illicit activity in Hot Springs.
The Hot Springs Police Department and the Garland County Sheriff's
Department were each getting part of the action from the lawlessness
and each was determined to protect its interests. It all happened
on what turned out to be a bloody and violent Monday.
On the morning of Monday, March 16, 1899, the Independent Party
Members held a meeting at the Hot Springs City Hall. Included in
the meeting was mayoral candidate C.W. Fry, who was supported by
Police Chief Toler. There were several police officers present at
As soon as the meeting ended, an unidentified person ran to the
Sheriffs Office to inform Sheriff Williams of the subjects
covered at the meeting.
Sheriff Williams stomped out of his office and headed downtown
where he encountered a friend, Dave Young, who had worked as a deputy
from time to time. They entered the Klondike Saloon where they discussed
the meeting until about 1:30 p.m.
At approximately the same time, Hot Springs Police Sergeant Tom
Goslee had lunch at the Corrinne Remington Café. Following
lunch, he walked to Tobe and Yorks barbershop at 614 Central
Avenue and got a haircut. He had left his .44 caliber pistol in
his desk and was carrying only a 2-shot derringer.
As the sheriff and Young were approaching the intersection of Spring
Street and Central Avenue, they spotted Goslee leaving the barbershop.
Sheriff Williams called out to Goslee, who then approached the two
men. Sheriff Williams refused to shake hands with Goslee and then
yelled, "I want to know what you mean by working against me."
Goslee didnt deny anything and furthermore began to defend
Police Chief Toler. Sheriff Williams began to yell at Goslee calling
him a liar and a coward. At one point, the sheriff reached in his
coat as if to get his pistol; Goslee drew his derringer and leveled
it at the sheriff, explaining that he wanted no trouble, but he
would defend himself. At that point, Young stepped between the two
men and separated them. Sheriff Williams opened his coat to show
Goslee that he wasnt armed.
Sheriff Williams son, John, then came out of the City Hall
Saloon. According to eye witnesses, John passed a .44 caliber revolver
to the sheriff. John also had a second revolver for himself. The
sheriff and his son opened fire on Sergeant Goslee, but did not
hit him. Goslee returned fire with the 2-shot derringer and escaped
unhurt. He went down an alley to the Sumpter House where he awaited
the arrival of Chief Toler and another police officer.
Police Chief Toler notified the prosecutor, David Cloud, of the
incident. Cloud got statements from witnesses, then from the sheriff
and his son. A warrant was issued for the arrest of Sheriff Bob
Chief Toler suggested to Goslee that he try to meet with the sheriffs
son, John, to help diffuse the situation. Meanwhile, he would meet
with the sheriff.
Chief Toler called a private meeting at his home with Goslee, C.W.
Fry, Captain Lee Haley and property owners Samuel Stitt and George
French. The object of the meeting was to discuss possible methods
of lessening the tensions between the Hot Springs Police Department
and the Garland County Sheriffs Office.
Chief Toler contacted Sheriff Williams suggesting a meeting at
5:30 pm. Williams agreed, though it would have to be brief since
this was his daughters twenty-first birthday celebration.
Sheriff Williams later learned of his sons meeting with Sergeant
Goslee, also scheduled for that evening. The sheriff contacted his
brother, Coffee Williams, requesting that he accompany his son John
to the meeting with Goslee.
on Page 2