Goodnight, Charles - Macoupin County Illinois
©1996-2011 Contributors

Charles Goodnight

In 1997, Judy York found this article about Charles Goodnight:

Excerpted from the article edited by Lamar, Harper & Row Publishers, New York, 1977
Charles Goodnight was born in Macoupin County IL in 1836. He travelled to Texas in 1846 with his mother and stepfather. He became a ranger and later served in the Civil War as a scout and guide for a frontier regiment.
Goodnight marked out the Goodnight Trail in 1875 It stretched from Alamogordo Creek, New Mexico to Granada, Colorado.
He developed one of the nation's best blooded herds of cattle through the introduction of Hereford bulls.
The panhandle town of Goodnight was named after him. He died in 1929.

A friend of M Trover sent the following to M Trover:

Charles Goodnight (March 5, 1836- December 12, 1929) was a cowboy in the American West. He was born in Macoupin County, Illinois, the fourth child of Charles and Charlotte (Collier) Goodnight. He moved to Texas in 1846 with his mother and stepfather Hiram Daugherty. His mother later married Rev. Adam Sheek.
In 1856, he became a cowboy, and served with the local militia fighting against the Comanche raiders. A year later, in 1857, Goodnight joined the Texas Rangers.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, he joined the Confederacy. Most of his time was spent as part of a frontier regiment guarding against raids by Indians.
On July 26, 1870, Goodnight married Mary Ann (Molly) Dyer, a schoolteacher from Weatherford. Mary Ann died in April of 1926. After his wife's death, Goodnight became sick, but was nursed back to health by Corinne Goodnight, a 26 year old nurse and telegraph operator from Butte, Montana, with whom Charles had been corresponding because of their shared surname.
In his last years he mined in Mexico and tried to become a movie producer. On March 5, 1927, Charles turned 91 and married the very young Corinne Goodnight. Two years later, Goodnight died on December 12th in Phoenix, Arizona.
Several streets in the Texas panhandle are named after Goodnight. in addition to the Charles Goodnight Memorial Trail and the highway to Palo Duro Canyon State Scenic Park. Goodnight is also known for guiding Texas Rangers to the Indian camp where Cynthia Ann Parker was recaptured, and for later making a treaty with her son, Quanah Parker. Author unknown.

Brought to my attention by Linda Talbott, Project Coordinator for The USGenWeb Census Project ® that the Charlotte Goodnight on our Macoupin County IL 1840 census page 10 was the mother of Charles Goodnight.
Linda wrote, "
Charles Goodnight and his partner, Oliver Loving (1812 - 1867) were two of the earliest cattle ranchers in Texas.  The Goodnight-Loving trail was named after them and Loving Counties, TX AND New Mexico were named after Oliver Loving.
If you have ever seen the western "Lonesome Dove" you may be interested to know the death of "Gus McCrae" was actually based on the death of Oliver Loving.

Goodnight and Loving were, at one time, in partnership with John Chisum.

External Links:
The Handbook of Texas Online says about his burial. "On the morning of December 12, 1929, Goodnight died at his winter home in Phoenix at the age of ninety-three. He was buried next to his first wife [Mary Ann (Molly) Dyer] in the Goodnight community cemetery."
PBS-WETA: New Perspectives on the West -- Charles Goodnight
Bunker Hill site has information on Charles Goodnight.

Pat Hansen of Phoenix wrote, "On the online death certificate index and images of Arizona death records, it does show that Charles Goodnight died in Pima county, Tucson and is buried in Clarindon, Texas. Thomas Goodnight, who lived in Phoenix at the time, was the informant. To see a copy of that death certifcate and download it, go to
All death records 50 years gone and older are there, as well as birth records at least 75 years old."


Charles Goodnight: Cowman and Plainsman, by J. Evetts Haley
Texas Ranchmen, by Dorothy Abbott McCoy
The New Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association

Below found by Debbi Geer:
Source: Bunker Hill-Woodburn History Book, Reflections, compiled and edited by Carol Redford and Betty Triplett, published by Bunker Hill Publications, 150 North Washington Street, Bunker Hill IL 62014, April 1993

"Tombstone and Gravesite of Charles Goodnight Sr.

Charles Goodnight, Sr., and his wife Charlotte moved from Kentucky in 1828, and bought a farm in Macoupin county. Charlie Goodnight, Jr., was one of four children born on the farm before Goodnight, Sr., died of pneumonia in 1840. Charles Goodnight Sr was buried on the farm he bought in 1828 in Bunker Hill Township about a half mile from the Dorchester Township line and about a mile from the Macoupin/Madison county line.

(Debbi wrote, "I happened to find mention that there was a Goodnight Cemetery in Floyd Co TX named for Charles Goodnight (Jr) for whom the Goodnight-Loving Trail was named. I wrote to the coordinator of the Floyd Co TX website and provided her some information regarding Charles Sr's burial. I happen to mention that I did not know what happened to Charlotte (Mrs Charles Sr) and the other 3 Goodnight children. I received the following response and thought you'd want to add it to the Goodnight Cemetery listing in case someone would be searching for the Charles and Charlotte Goodnight family."

"What happened to Charlotte and the other Goonight children is not known at this time. Charlotte Goodnight is buried in the Black Springs/Oran cemetery, Palo Pinto County, TX." This information from Dorman Holub Coordinator North Central and Panhandle Region - Texas Archives)

Charlie, Jr., went on to become a cattleman in Texas and his name is best known in association with the Goodnight-Loving Trail. He and his partner, Oliver LOving, led a cattle drive from Fort Belknap, Texas, to Denver, Colorado, thus establishing one of the well-known cattle trails.

The former Goodnight farm was bought by Willis Wolff, Sr. in 1938, from a family named Sattgast. Today the farm is owned by Willis Wolff, Jr. Much of the land is located in the N 1/2 of Section 36 of T7N-R8W."

From Dennis D. Garrells:

Charlie Goodnight moved from Macoupin County when he was ten years-old.
When he died at 93, he owned a 1,325,000 acre ranch in Texas that included the entire Palo Duro Canyon (1,500 ft. deep, 10 mi across, and nearly 100 miles long).

The boy born on a small farm southwest of Staunton and southeast of Bunker Hill, would become the cattleman that inspired the character of Woodrow Call in Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove. (Call was played by Tommy Lee Jones in the original mini-series.)

After his father, Charles, died, Goodnight¹s mother remarried and the family moved to Texas, near Waco. The grave and tombstone for Charlie¹s father are still at the family¹s homestead near here. In Texas, Charlie began working on neighboring farms and eventually became a cowboy.

Soon, he and Oliver Loving ran a herd of longhorn cattle to gold miners in the Rocky Mountains. Loving would become the basis for McMurtry¹s Gus McCrae, played by Robert Duvall in the mini-series. Years later, Loving was killed by Indians and Goodnight brought Loving¹s body back to Texas.

After his first Rocky Mountains run with Loving, Goodnight joined the Texas Rangers and served as an Indian scout.

It was after the war when he and Loving blazed the cattle trail from Texas up the pecos to New Mexico to Colorado that would be named the Goodnight-Loving Trail. It became one of the most used trails in the Southwest.

"Most of the time we were solitary adventurers in a great land as fresh and new as a spring morning. And we were free, and full of the zest of darers." Charles Goodnight

Goodnight is credited with inventing the chuckwagon. He took a Civil War surplus Studebaker wagon and converted it to carry food and supplies.
Goodnight crossed longhorns with Herefords producing a more commercial breed of cattle.
He founded Goodnight College 40 miles southeast of Amarillo. A small town, called Goodnight, built up around his home there. The town and college no longer exist.

At 80, he made a movie to show how he remembered of the West. It had no gunfights and Indians were as likely to be friendly as hostile. It was shown to a cattlemen's convention and at a dinner in New York. But it never caught on with a public who preferred action, violence and heroes.

Family Index

Macoupin County main page

County Coordinator Kathleen Mirabella
©1996-2018 All rights reserved.
Copyright of submitted items belongs to those responsible for their authorship or creation unless otherwise assigned.
Any commercial use or any use for which money is asked or paid for any reason is strictly prohibited.