Old West Lifestyle & Stories


Charles Goodnight was an early Texas cattleman who controlled up to 100,000 cattle on a million acres of land.  But, one thing most people don’t know about Charles Goodnight is that he, more than anyone else, was responsible for cowboys “eaten’ good” while on the trail.

At the age of Charles Goodnight20, he agreed to take care of a neighbor’s cattle…if he was allowed to keep every fourth calf.  In four years, he had 180 head of cattle, and later he bought the neighbor’s whole herd.

It has been said of Goodnight that he “stole when he wanted to and lynched when he had to.”  By the end of the Civil War, he had a herd of 8,000 cattle.

To keep his burgeoning empire…he did the lynching.  One time his wife, expressing her shock over a vigilante hanging said, “I understand they hanged them from a telegraph pole!”  Charles Goodnight responded, “Well, I don’t think it hurt the telegraph pole.”

Goodnight was an innovator who, throughout the years, raised Durham, Hereford and Anus stock.  He even did some early experiments with what was then called “cattalo”…a crossbreed of buffalo and beef cow.  Unfortunately, the calves were sterile and the mother often died in birth.  However, Goodnight’s southern plains buffalo were later bred with northern ones to create the hardy strain of buffalo that now occupy Yellowstone and other areas.

In 1890, at the age of 54, he sold his ranching interests, spending the rest of his life as a “snowbird” with summers in Texas, and winters in Tucson, Arizona. Charles Goodnight passed away on December 13, 1929.

Oh yes, I mentioned that Charles Goodnight was responsible for cowboys “eaten’ good” on the trail.  It was Charles Goodnight, who in 1866 took a surplus Army wagon, and revamped it into the first chuckwagon.

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