The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974 Page: 391
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Notes and Documents
Haley's biography of Charles Goodnight. Haley went to great lengths to
make Goodnight's first drive one of epic dimensions:
And thus, upon the sixth day of June, 1866, the most momentous day in
young Goodnight's life, he left the frontier of Texas to blaze a new trail for
longhorned cattle. The thousands of flinty hoofs that cut its grass to dust
traced his name as well as his trail across the face of the Western World. Upon
the dusts of that trail rose the tradition of the man, no longer a man only of
Texas, but now a man of the West.4
After much difficulty and the loss of four hundred animals, Goodnight
and Loving arrived at Fort Sumner, New Mexico, where they sold their
beeves for eight cents a pound. Goodnight, his "ambitions fired by this un-
dreamed initial success," turned back toward Texas, "down the trail that
was to bear his name." By the following year a "number of daring cowmen"
were inspired by the "success of Goodnight and Loving" to venture "upon
Thus did Haley, relying largely upon Goodnight's recollection of events
over sixty years in the past, chronicle the beginnings of the Goodnight Trail.
Similarly, he depended upon the cattleman's memory to determine the mo-
tivation for the drive to New Mexico. "First, the mining region would have
more or less money," Goodnight recalled, and "second, in that region there
was a good cattle country, so if I could not sell I could hold." Actually, it
seems likely that the rancher knew in advance of the market for which he
made a beeline-Fort Sumner, with its sizable garrison and thousands of
The man responsible for Goodnight's probable knowledge of the Fort
Sumner market is mentioned in his biography. It was noted that he and
River and up the Pecos to New Mexico in I865." The Chisholm Trail (Norman, 1954),
43. He fails to assign significance to this statement, however, and devotes more than a
page to a graphic account of the Goodnight-Loving drive of 1866. Ibid., 47-48. In a later
work he states that their drive "fired the imaginations, hopes and ambitions of cattlemen
all along the Texas frontier." Wayne Gard, Dean Kraker, et al., Along the Early Trails of
the Southwest (Austin and New York, 1969), 150. Other writers simply state that
Goodnight and Loving were the originators of the trail. See, for example, Lewis Atherton,
The Cattle Kings (Bloomington, Indiana, I96I), I8; Odie B. Faulk, Land of Many
Frontiers: A History of the American Southwest (New York, 1968), 239; Ray Allen
Billington, Western Expansion: A History of the American Frontier (2nd ed.; New York,
1962), 68o; and Mari Sandoz, The Cattlemen: From the Rio Grande across the Far
Marias (New York, 1958), 95.
4J. Evetts Haley, Charles Goodnight, Cowman and Plainsman (New York, 1936), 127.
5Ibid., 139 (first two quotations), 162 (last three quotations). Haley gives no in-
stances of the contemporary use of the appellation "Goodnight" for the trail to New
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974, periodical, 1973/1974; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117148/m1/441/: accessed June 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.