J. Evetts Haley’s 1936 biography, Charles Goodnight, Cowman and Plainsman, U. of OK Press, is about the only book that details the life and partnership of Goodnight and Loving. I’m sure there are others that touch on their lives and probably influenced McMurtry’s novel, but it’s the next good place to start looking for the connections to Colorado and how they fit into the Montana Trail story.
In 1866 Goodnight and Loving were making monthly deliveries of beef to Santa Fe during winter months, up the Pecos passing Pecos Ruins, Apache Cañon, by Pigeon’s Ranch, into the city of Saint Francis of Assisi. Those of you familiar with the Colorado Volunteers will recognise the landscape names from when the ‘Pike’s Peakers’ fought the Texas Confederates there in March, 1862.
Throughout the 1860s -70s after Loving’s death Goodnight sold cattle to “Don Luciano” (Lucien) Maxwell at Maxwell’s Ranch in New Mexico. Famous visitors there included; [Ceran & Marcellin] St. Vrain, Tom Tobin, the Bents, Kit Carson, Charlie Autobee, Zan Hicklin, Tom Boggs [Boggsville namesake], Dick Wooten, Robideaux and Ouray [the Ute chief].
“Among those who should be remembered for their work in bringing law to southern Colorado, Goodnight thought Governor C. M. Hinsdale, Judge Wilbur F. Stone, H. W. Cresswell, J. A., M. D., and Calvin Thatcher, Perry [O. H. P.] Baxter, ... Judge Moses Hallett, J. M. Fosdick [civil engineer who laid out Pueblo and Colo. Springs], Daniel Boone [Van Daniel Boone buried at Pioneer Cem. in Pueblo] and P. K. Dotson were particularly deserving. Goodnight wrote to J. E. Haley, Sept. 16, 1927. [You’ll recall Baxter commanded a company of the 3rd Reg. at Sand Creek.]
Down the Arkansas River from Pueblo, Goodnight and his neighbor, John W. Prowers established a meat-packing plant. DBA: Prowers and Goodnight “who have been slaughtering and shipping cattle from West Las Animas during the past season.” [Colorado Chieftan, March 16, 1876.]
[You may also recall Prowers who came west from Missouri to work for William Bent, was husband of “Amache” daughter of One Eye or Lone Bear a Cheyenne chief killed at Sand Creek. Prowers was known as the first cattle baron of the Arkansas and on his death “Amy” as he called his wife became the first “cattle baroness” of Colorado along the Arkansas R. Of course Prowers County is named for him.]
To wrap this up, after Loving’s death, the Goodnight-Loving Trail to Grenada kept growing and moved slightly west to the mouth of the Big Sandy. With intermittent but regular sources of ground water and native springs “Sand Creek” became an avenue, yet again, to the north. Following the creek to the area of Limon, the trail then veered off to Brush, Colorado and a tad northeasterly to Ogallala, NE. That’s a pivotal part of the landscape of the Lonesome Dove story. That town was a stopping point on the Union Pacific RR. Some say the part that becomes the northern extension of the trail deviated even further west into Wyoming and the loading pens at Cheyenne.
Next the trail extended along western Nebraska or eastern Wyoming and then along the western edge of the Black Hills and into eastern Montana around Miles City and some say cattle from those drives’ descendant cattle went as far west as the Judith Basin country. In any event during the 1870s and 80s through the end of the era of the long cattle drives until the open range was fenced off they followed the water sources and likely passed many a head of cattle over the site of the massacre of 1864. [Some artifacts found in 1999 at the site are consistent with the cattle drive era.]
Oliver Loving was taken back to Texas resting in a cemetery near his home in Weatherford, TX. In 1903 Loving, TX was named for him along the route of the Gulf, Texas, and Western Railroad. That town is on the old path of the trail he help blaze. Loving County, TX is just south of the New Mexico line and just east of the Pecos River. Loving, NM in Eddy County was named to honor him as he received the wounds that killed him nearby along the Pecos River on Loving Bend.
Charles Goodnight established the JA Ranch in the Palo Duro country of the Texas Panhandle with his partner John G. Adair. They’d brought the start up herd of 1,800 Durham cattle from Colorado. The “JA” brand is one of the more recognizable of the old brands like the XIT. It was estimated that Goodnight & Adair at one time ran 100,000 cattle over one million acres.
He also developed the cross of Angus cattle with buffalo called Cattalo. He introduced Hereford cattle into the region. Like in Colorado he helped found the Panhandle Stockmen’s Association. Later he sold out his interest in the JA and spent his remaining years investing in Mexican mining operations. He did maintain a small ranch near what became Goodnight, TX named after him. His first wife died in 1926 and he remarried in 1927. After his first cup of coffee he died on the morning of Dec. 12, 1929, about “saddling up time,” at his winter home in Arizona.
In his 93 years he’d been a friend of John Chisum and Quanah Parker. He’d help save a herd of the vanishing buffalo, and with Loving made a mark or two in the West.
On the edge of Palo Duro Cañon “His bow-legged, gray-haired JA cowboys lowered his massive casket in the grave, and with tears streaming down their leathery, wind-carved faces, shoveled in the dirt that covered him up. And there in a graveyard at Goodnight (Texas) came to rest at last this dominant, driving, restless plainsman.” [J. E.Haley]
Out where the grass can’t claim all, the marks men make are soon covered over by dust and sand. It’s their deeds that are remembered. Vayan con Dios.
Say Goodnight, Loving