A cattle rancher
and pioneer of the cattle drive,
Charles J. Goodnight, developed the
Born in Hopkins County, Kentucky, on December 4, 1812,
Loving, the son of Joseph and Susannah Mary (Bourland) Loving,
grew up to be a farmer in Muhlenburg County, Kentucky. He married
Susan Doggett Morgan in 1833 and ten years later, he and his brother,
and sister, along with their families, moved to the Republic of
There, he acquired over 600 acres of land in Collin, Dallas, and
Parker Counties, where once again, he farmed and worked as a freight
In 1855, Loving
moved his wife and seven children to what is now Palo Pinto County,
where they first ran a country store near Keechi Creek and Loving
started his ranching career. By 1857, he owned some 1,000 acres of land and a large cattle herd. He
soon began to drive his cattle northward, often through dangerous
territory, making good profits from the demand for beef. Successful in
these early cattle drives, he soon earned the nickname of "The Dean of
was commissioned to provide beef to the Confederate forces, a
profitable move in the beginning. However, when the war was over, the
Confederate Government reportedly owed him more than $100,000 and
their money was worthless.
Sometime later, he met Charles Goodnight, a former
Texas Ranger and Indian
Scout. With Loving's
knowledge of cattle and Goodnight's
background as a Texas Ranger
and an Indian Fighter, the two hatched a plan to run cattle
from Fort Belknap, Texas to Fort Sumner,
New Mexico, and northward into
Wyoming. This new trail,
through dangerous Indian country would become known as the
In June, 1866, they set out with some 2,000 head of cattle and 18 armed
men to blaze the Goodnight-Loving Trail
to Colorado. This went on
to be a well traveled route to both Colorado and Wyoming.
they sold beef to the army for $12,000 in gold. Loving continued to drive the rest of the herd to Denver, while
Goodnight returned to Texas for a
second herd. The profitable venture led to more drives, including a
partnership with John Chisum.
However, in the summer of
1867, when Oliver Loving went ahead of the herd to negotiate contracts, taking only
one trusted scout with him, he was attacked by
and seriously wounded. Though he was able to reach
New Mexico, he later died of his wounds on September 25, 1867.
Goodnight continued the drive to Colorado, but
later returned for Loving's
body and returned it to Texas,
where he was buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Weatherford.
of America, updated April, 2017.
Goodnight-Loving Trail was one of many
cattle trails in the American West.
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