The Vagabond – Masonic goat and meteorite in 1880s Gadsden


In April of 1893, a large billy goat, which was closely shaved all over with the letter ‘G’ and a square and a compass painted on each side in a vivid red color, began roaming the streets of Gadsden and soon became a familiar sight in the city.
The animal apparently felt at home anywhere and was frequently caught in stores, churches, outhouses, city hall and the courthouse, among other places. The goat, who was always foraging for food, could jump higher and farther than any other goat in town, and was always full of mischief.
If anything exciting occurred, such as a fire, political gathering or riot, the goat was right up at the front.
Hundreds of old timers recalled that the goat was known as “Bill, the Masonic Goat.” Some said that Bill was used for initiating candidates in the Hoypoyloy Club.
On June 27, 1893, what was thought to be a meteor fell in East Gadsden with a noise like a terrific ex-plosion. Some thought it was an earthquake, while a very few insisted that it was thunder. Some took it as a notice that they had tarried too long in East Gadsden and moved out. The year before, a meteor fell in that vicinity and attracted nationwide attention. The explosion shook every building in Gadsden and caused much excitement. In both instances the heavens were brilliantly lighted for miles around.

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