Not far from Clarendon, Texas is the homestead and ranch headquarters of Charles Goodnight, a pioneer Texas rancher.
In the mid to late 1800’s, he controlled a ranch of over a million acres, had 180 cowboys on his payroll, and was an industry by himself. He was a tough man who lived to be 93, fought Indians and had Indians as long time friends. He experimented with crossbreeding buffalo and Texas longhorns and was responsible, with help from his wife Molly, for saving the short hair buffalo from extinction. He entertained Presidents and panhandlers alike in his dining room and, as a cowboy employee once said , ” when he told you to do something he expected it to be done. ”
His house is on the National Register of Historic Places and was restored with private funds, grants, and donations.
On a small horned couch in the upstairs master bedroom is an open Bible with a pair of reading glasses holding his place in Psalms.
There are temptations and lines to be drawn in accumulating a million acres of land and running men and cattle.
Mr. Goodnight was reputed to be a gruff, stern, no nonsense kind of man. Yet, he was also reputed to be kind and generous with his time, his money and attention to those who wanted to work hard and learn. If he liked you he would do most anything to help you rise on your merits.
My brother Alan tells a story of our Aunt Roberta, my father’s sister, who lived in Clarendon where an old Mr. Goodnight had his city house and spent the last few years of his life. She and a girlfriend used to play jacks on the sidewalk in front of his home and she remembered a nurse coming out with a plate of cookies and telling them they could come anytime to play.
Stern and gruff as he is in his photos and paintings, the man that sent out cookies to two little girls had a heart of gold.