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 (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.

External Links


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