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On the Trail of Charles Goodnight

Written by Nola McKey.


Like many legendary historical figures, Charles Goodnight sparks strong passions and sometimes differing opinions. The following authorities provided valuable input and feedback for one or both articles in our two-part series on the storied cattleman. Each of their related institutions offers additional information about the life and legacy of Charles Goodnight.

Andy Wilkinson, poet, singer, songwriter, playwright, and a distant relative of Charles Goodnight. He wrote the award-winning Charlie Goodnight’s Last Night, a one-man play with Barry Corbin. Wilkinson is currently artist-in-residence at the Southwest Collection of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, and a visiting assistant professor in the university’s School of Music and in the Honors College. For details about the Southwest Collection, call 806/742-3749;

William Elton Green, Curator of History Emeritus at Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon. (As a public historian in Canyon, Green is available privately for historical and genealogical research, exhibit development, artifact research and evaluation, and public speaking.) For details about the museum, call 806/651-2244; To contact Green, call 806/674-0969 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

J. P. “Pat” McDaniel, director of the Haley Memorial Library and History Center
 in Midland. For details about the library, call 432.682.5785;

Montie Goodin, board chairman of the Armstrong County Museum in Claude, which has raised almost $2 million to transform the Folk Victorian house near Caprock in which Charles Goodnight once lived into the Charles Goodnight Historical Center. Goodin was born in the house in 1931. For details about the museum and the status of the center, call 806/226-2187;

Although author Julia Robinson relied heavily on J. Evetts Haley’s 1936 biography, Charles Goodnight: Cowman and Plainsman, while researching our series on Goodnight, she consulted the following sources as well:

  • Charles Goodnight: Father of the Texas Panhandle by William Thomas Hagan (2007)
  •  The Butterfield Overland Trail 1857-1869: its organization and operation over the southern route to 1861; subsequently over the central route to 1866; and under Wells, Fargo and Company in 1869 by Roscoe Platt Conkling and Margaret Badenoch Conkling (1947)
  • 900 Miles on the Butterfield Trail by A. C. Greene (1994)
  • “Charles Goodnight of Amplitude," an essay by J. Frank Dobie that appears in his book Cow People (1981)

See related: Charles Goodnight's Legacy

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