The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 32, July 1928 - April, 1929 Page: 30
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
serves to be mentioned as one of them. In order that the reader
may know the type of people who were range riders and appreciate
the personalities of the greater among them, the writer will give
a short sketch of the lives of Colonel and Mrs. Goodnight.
Colonel Charles Goodnight was born in Macupin County,
Illinois, March 5, 1836, the year Texas won her independence.
His father, who died in 1841, was an early settler of Illinois.
Mrs. Goodnight married a second husband, and moved with her
family to Texas in 1846, settling in Milam County. The son,
Charles, was given meager advantages of education in a country
school in winter, never attending school after he was nine years
old. He made himself useful upon the farm, learning to ride
horseback, to care for cattle, to handle a gun, and to fight prowling
Indians.1 At the age of nineteen, he and another boy, by the
name of W. J. Sheek, decided that they would strike out for them-
selves. They fitted out an old ox wagon and started to California
the land of gold. After traveling some two hundred miles they
came to the San Saba River. Knowing that they were still in
Texas, they decided that Texas was big enough for them, so they
turned around and started back home. When they reached the
Brazos River, they met Claiborne Varney, a cowman who was
guarding four hundred and thirty head of cattle-a large herd for
those days-six hundred head was the largest herd in the Brazos
country at that time. Varney wanted to sell the cattle to the
boys, but they had no money. They proposed, however, that he
let them graze the cattle wherever they pleased-grass was free-
and that each year they brand every fourth calf for themselves;
at the end of ten years they would return his share to him. The
trade was made on these terms. They took the cattle into Palo
Pinto County, which was beyond the frontier in 1855, and estab-
lished headquarters at Black Springs, on Kuchi Creek. As there
was no market for calves, the boys had to make a living some way
while the herd was growing. Sheek remained with the cattle while
Colonel Goodnight took to freighting with ox-teams.
'A data concerning Colonel Goodnight were obtained from three articles
and personal interviews. The three articles are as follows: James W.
Freeman, Prose and Poetry of Live Stocb Industry of The United States,
(National Hist. Assn., 1915) ; J. Frank Dobie, "Charles Goodnight-Trail
Blazer" (Country Gentleman, March, 1927), and "Colonel Goodnight, Noted
Trail Blazer, at 91 Begins Another Adventure" (Kansas City Star, Kansas
City, March 27, 1927).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 32, July 1928 - April, 1929, periodical, 1929; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101089/m1/34/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.