The Man, The Legend!

By Laura Ford


Co-founder of the Goodnight-Loving Trail and the “Father of the Texas, Panhandle,” Charles Goodnight was born in Mocoupin County, Illinois on March 5, 1836, Charles moved with his family to Waco, Texas in 1846 when he was ten years old. By the time he was twenty he was working as a cowboy and served with the local militia in the many fights against Comanche raiders.  In 1857, he joined the Texas Rangers, where he continued to fight in the Indian Wars and served as an Indian scout. Later, when the Civil War began, he again served as a scout.

After the war, Goodnight joined up with Oliver Loving to move cattle from Fort Belknap, Texas to Fort Sumner, New Mexico, in what became known as the Goodnight-Loving Trail. It was during this time, that Charles would invent the chuck wagon when he rebuilt an army surplus Studebaker wagon for more practical use on a long cattle drive.

Unfortunately, Loving was killed by a Comanche war party in 1867, but this did not stop Goodnight from continuing to organize cattle drives on his own. (The death of Oliver Loving has been depicted in the movie, Lonesome Dove, for all you western fans.)

On July 26, 1870, Goodnight married Molly Dyer, his longtime sweetheart, who had taught school at Weatherford. They settled in Colorado for a couple of years until the Panic of 1873 made them relocate and move back to Texas.

Goodnight built his wife a beautiful house on the edge of the Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas Panhandle.

The famous Goodnight house which can be found today in Goodnight, Texas, which is a very small town between Claude and Amarillo.

The house has been going under a renovation process to bring it back to its original glory. But now it has been completed! They have built a visitors center and have even brought buffalo back to the ranch. It is just like it was back in 1876! To celebrate, the Armstrong County Museum is hosting the grand opening on October 5th. More information on link below:

Come on by! The buffalo are back and the house is open!


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