A History of the J A Ranch
A HISTORY OF THE J A RANCH
HARLEY TRUE BURTON
THE RANGE RIDERS OF YESTERDAY
It would be impossible to give an account of all the men who
have been connected with the J A Ranch since the ranch was
established fifty years ago. In the first place, it is impossible to
get data concerning all of them, and in the second place, a de-
tailed account of each J A employee would make this article too
long, because it would, perhaps, include three thousand names.
Mention will be made of only one hundred and sixty-four of the
men and women who worked on the ranch before 1887 and twenty
who came to the ranch at a later date.
As manager of the J A Ranch, Colonel Goodnight had certain
rules and regulations concerning the conduct of his men, which
fact explains to a great extent why the men who worked on the
ranch are numbered among the foremost citizens of the com-
munities in which they now live, wherever they may be. In
speaking of these regulations Colonel Goodnight said:
I did not allow men who worked for me to drink or gamble on
the ranch. These same regulations are still in force today. It
would not do. I would fire a man for doing either one of these.
As a result I never had a man killed in a fight while working for
me, and during my fifty years in the cattle business, there were
only two fist fights among my men, and I fired the ones who
caused these fights.
This is a remarkable record, when it is remembered that he man-
aged over three thousand men during this time, all classes of men
being included among them. Colonel Goodnight furthermore
added, "As far as I know, I have never heard of a man who
worked on the J A Ranch being convicted of a crime."
First and foremost among the riders are Colonel Goodnight
and his wife, Mary Ann Goodnight. Although Mrs. Goodnight
was not considered as a range rider, in the true sense of the word,
this remarkable little woman, who was affectionately called The
Little Mother of The Panhandle, for almost half a century, de-
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 32, July 1928 - April, 1929. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101089/. Accessed March 5, 2015.