Saturday, April 21, 2012

Charles Goodnight

Charles Goodnight was born on March 5, 1836 near the Madison and Macoupin county line in Illinois.  During his childhood, the Goodnights faced many hardships and moved around a lot. In late 1845, Hiram Daugherty, Goodnight's step-father, moved the family to Texas. This trip was what formed Goodnight's fond bond with horses and the frontier. At a very early age, Goodnight started hiring out to local farmers for pay. At around age 20, Goodnight started his frontier journeys in search of money and wilderness. The frontier and wilderness way of life had always intrigued him.  As a young man, he began freighting using oxen and large wagons before the railroads were brought into the country. In 1858, Goodnight started a career with the Texas Rangers during a time where there were many Indian raids and uprisings.  In 1866, Goodnight teamed up with Oliver Loving on a trail drive of Longhorn cattle to Ft. Sumner. Here, they sold the steers to the reservation that had Navajo and Mescalero Indians. From Ft. Sumner, Oliver trailed the 800 head of cows and calves to Denver and sold them to John Wesley Iliff. This trail became known as the Goodnight-Loving Trail. The partnership fell apart after Loving's fatal encounter with Comanche Indians. Goodnight went on to drive many more cattle and cut out several new trails. On July 26, 1870, Goodnight married Mary Ann Dyer and lived in Pueblo, Colorado. In 1877, Goodnight formed a partnership with John Adair. They formed a five year long partnership on the basis of the cattle business in the Palo Duro Canyon region of the Texas Panhandle. The stipulations of the partnership was that Adair financed the enterprise and Goodnight handled the buying of cattle and running of the ranch. Goodnight received a salary and received one third of the assets after the five year contract ended. By the mid 1880s, the JA ranch encompassed 1,335,000 acres and had 100,000 head of cattle. In 1886, Goodnight started writing Mrs. Adair in London and wanted to dissolve the partnership. He had managed the ranch for a total of eleven years with much success. Goodnight received the Quitaque Ranch with 140,000 acres and 20,000 cattle as his payment for the partnership. In 1890, he sold half interest in the ranch and later owned a home ranch near what is now known as Goodnight, Texas. His wife, Mary Ann, died on April 11, 1926 and Goodnight sold out his ranch on the terms that he could stay the remainder of his life in the ranch house. On his ninety-first birthday in 1927, he married once more to Corrine Goodnight, a nurse who nursed him back to health. She was twenty-six at the time. He spent his last winters in Phoenix, Arizona. On December 2, 1929 he suffered a heart attack and on December 12, 1929 he passed at the age of ninety-three. He was buried by Mary Ann's side.

Davis, Joe Tom. Legendary Texians. Burnet, Texas: Eakin Press, 1982. 123-146. Print.

Haley, J. Evetts. Charles Goodnight: Cowman and Plainsman. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1949. Print.

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