Heritage, 2008, Volume 2 Page: 18
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Little-Known Repositories Keep Texas History Alive
By Eric L. Moreno
The great state of Texas has as rich and diverse a history as any
state in the Union and could match many sovereign nations with the
depth and breadth of its colorful story. As such, it would be virtually
impossible for any one location to house this priceless narrative of
our state, especially the details-the small and oft-times forgotten
threads that make up the tapestry of Texas. To gather and care for
these loose threads, archives have sprouted up across the state, often
at institutions of higher learning, and some of those hidden, historical
jewels are highlighted below.
The Charles Goodnight Collection
Housed inside the Cushing Memorial Library on the campus of
Texas A&M University is the Charles Goodnight Collection. Featuring
a collection of personal letters of the legendary cattle-ranching
magnate and trailblazer Charles Goodnight, the archive was purchased
by the Library in 1996.
Its primary focus is on the relationship between one of the founders
of the American Bison Society, Martin S. Garretson, and Goodnight.
In these rare and illuminating insights into the private life and
thoughts of this giant of the West, the reader gets rare glimpses at
Goodnight's beliefs about improving the breeding of his livestock,
views on his adopted home of Texas, and thoughts on preserving the
bison from extinction.
Born on March 5, 1836, one day before the Alamo fell, Goodnight
was the fourth of five children of Charles and Charlotte Goodnight.
Raised in Macoupin County, Illinois, the future cattle baron would
eventually travel with his family to Texas, thus beginning his legend
and legacy. The collection of Goodnight's papers was purchased by
Cushing Library in 1996," explains Assistant Professor Catherine
Coker, of the Texas A&M University Libraries. "Mike Vinson, an
Austin bookseller/dealer, contacted Donald Dyal, who was then the
director of special collections at A&M. Vinson wrote a five-page letter
detailing the items in the collection, their rarity, and a price at
which they might be purchased."
According to Coker, none of Goodnight's private letters have ever
been offered for sale at auction; the correspondence that comprises
the archives at A&M were unpublished.
"The Charles Goodnight Correspondence [archive] consists chiefly
of personal correspondence between Charles Goodnight and various
friends and business associates, some business correspondence relating
to the purchase of several grandfather clocks, personal memos,
notes and receipts," says Coker. "As Goodnight was a significant his
HERITA GE E Volume 2 2008
f t t A_ 10I v
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2008, Volume 2, periodical, 2008; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45358/m1/18/: accessed May 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.