On The Back Porch
By Ol’ Jim Cathey
Our Nation is experiencing a time when fanatics are frankly bordering on the insane! As they clamor for the destruction of symbols that tend to “offend” them, they take on a mob mentality that swarms and destroys everything in their path, totally disregarding the indignant cries from a conservative public.
What they will never accept or understand is that no matter how much symbolism they might succeed in destroying, history lives in our memories and will be recounted in story after story. They can destroy the symbol but history continues to thrive! Stop and think about the stories that you know. History has given us a lot of material to use.
Such as this account of a man that fought Indians as well as outlaws and then settled in an area that was the last stronghold for the Comanches.
In a previous story about Charlie Goodnight, who was sometimes called the “father of the Texas Panhandle,” we learned that he was born in Macoupin County, Illinois, the fourth child of Charles and Charlotte Goodnight. His family came to Texas when he was an almost grown ten year-old lad.
He was mentored by an old Indian, Caddo Jake, learning to take care of himself and mastering the modes of survival in the wilderness of the Brazos River bottoms. He became a cowboy, served with a local militia, and joined the Texas Rangers, where he was instrumental in locating and recapturing Cynthia Ann Parker.
In later years, he would make treaty with her son, Quanah Parker, a renowned Comanche Chief. Goodnight would soon meet Oliver Loving, a rancher in the western Cross Timbers district of Texas and they would develop a working relationship that started with sending a herd of beeves through Indian Territory and Kansas to the Rocky Mountain gold mining camps.
However, continuing trouble with the Indians who were being forced to reservations in Northwest Texas, brought Goodnight back into the fray as he joined with Captain Cureton’s Rangers. This was the time that Goodnight discovered the trail leading to a Comanche encampment on the Pease River.
Captain Cureton and Captain Sullivan Ross led the attack that resulted in the capture of Cynthia Ann Parker. Cureton’s Rangers, which included Goodnight, were considered to be a part of the Frontier Regiment when the Civil War broke out.
So, Goodnight’s service in the Civil War was to help provide protection from marauding Indians and border outlaws that were rampant from the Canadian River to the headwaters of both the Brazos and Colorado rivers.
During this time, Goodnight gained vast knowledge about the rolling prairies of the Llano Estacado and the Palo Duro Canyon that he would rely on in later years as he developed his ranching endeavors.
My Ol’ Daddy grew up in that country and he would often say. “Charlie Goodnight knew all the landmarks to help find his way thru that ol’ canyon country, he didn’t need a compass!”
The Staked Plains, a land of mystery
With dangers, snares, and strife.
The men who came made history,
And forged a way of life.
It was a vast and endless plain,
Holding danger and fear.
And yet, it beckoned with disdain,
To all who ventured near.
Here the Indian made a stand,
Home to the buffalo.
An unforgiving prairie land,
Called the Llano Estacado.
Forever stretched her waving grass,
Void of water and tree.
And at its edge, a great crevasse,
To hide the refugee.
Maurading tribes sought a hiding place,
In the deep canyons and the rocks.
Now, Rangers often would give chase,
To a prey, wily as the fox.
These forays often led to naught,
But knowledge of the plain.
It stuck with one, this dream he sought,
To come back once again.
Tho many men would dare to come,
To seek their fortune there,
But soon they would succumb,
To trouble, hardships, and despair.
Soon one would come and plan to stay,
This man with will and grit.
He faced all dangers, made his play,
And was not one to quit.
And thru the years he made his gain,
Though times could be quite rough.
Yet he would build a vast domain,
And call the canyon’s bluff.
He left a lasting legacy,
Because he chose to fight.
An icon in Texas history,
This man…Charlie Goodnight.
Ol’ Jim Cathey
Keep America safe! Tell her story. God Bless you and God Bless America!