Wild West History Association Dedicated to the history and lore of the American West
Wild West History Association Dedicated to the history and lore of the American West
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Charles Goodnight

 

(March 5, 1836 - December 12, 1929)

 

Born in Illinois, Charles Goodnight migrated to Texas where he started as a ranger and scout. During the Civil War, he was on several scouting expeditions chasing down stolen stock.

 

After the war, he rounded up some stock and with Oliver Loving created the Goodnight-Loving Trail which ran west fron central Texas to New Mexico (Fort Sumner) and eventually ran straight north into Colorado. During one drive to Fort Sumner, the group was delayed by indian attacks and stampedes. Loving and another drover went ahead to notify the buyers of the delay. These two were attacked by indians with Loving receiving an arrow in the wrist and in the side. He sent his drover back to the camp for help, but days past. He finally crawled to the trail where Mexicans took him to the fort. An inexperienced doctor hesitated in a necessary amputation of the arm and gangrene developed. Goodnight found his friend Loving, saw the situation and the arm was removed. However, it was too late, Oliver Loving died three weeks later. Loving's last request was to be buried in Texas since he did not want to be buried in "foreign soil".

 

Oliver Loving was originally buried in post cemetery at Fort Sumner, NM. The next year, Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving's son, Joe, transported Oliver Loving 600 miles on a buckboard for burial in the Greenwood Cemetery in Weatherford, Texas.

 

If this story sounds similar to the movie Lonesome Dove, it is because parts of that movie are based on the lives of Goodnight and Loving.

 

Charles Goodnight was one of the first to ranch in the Texas Panhandle and acquired a joint venture in the famous JA Ranch. His failed experiment to breed buffalo and Angus cattle, known a 'cattalo' saved a southern herd of buffalo from annihilation. This herd was later bred with a northern herd and preserved the buffalo we see today.

 

When the Texas Rangers did little about rustling, Goodnight formed a Cattlemen's Association, hired some men and imposed his own justice.

 

Charles Goodnight is buried in the Goodnight Cemetery in Goodnight, Texas.

 

 

Information compiled by Steve Grimm

Books About Charles Goodnight

 

Palo Duro Canyon by Jim Pfluger

 

A 16 page pamphlet with a ton of information on Palo Duro Canyon. Provides fine details of Charles Goodnight's activites and the JA ranch.

 

Charles Goodnight by J. Evetts Haley

 

The definitive biography on Charles Goodnight.

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© Wild West History Association - a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation

http://www.WildWestHistory.org