The seclusion and solitude of the timber grew upon him and was conducive to his contemplative moods. His aversion to any form of urban activity, even to living beneath a roof, lasted down the years, while this early trait of observation was heightened with every experience. He spent more and more time out-of-doors, for no other school so stimulated him. During his early boyhood the entire nation was throbbing to the importance of Texas, the new republic to the southwest. The original colonizing schemes attracted national attention, and with the Texan War of Independence that interest grew and spread like wildfire before a prairie wind.
In Washington it was fanned to new heat by intense partisan struggles over the admission of Texas to the Union. Everywhere talk of Texas flowed from the mouths of many men, and those who tore their livings from ungracious soil heard much of its fertility, its generous homestead laws, and its manifest advantages for energetic folk. Caught into the current of the migratory stream were Hiram Daugherty, his wife, and the Goodnight children.
Late in , they loaded their household goods and farming tools into two covered wagons and set out for Texas. Without saddle or blanket, Charlie straddled a young white-faced mare called Blaze, and rode alongside the wagons or dropped behind as he and his mount grew tired. Saddles were then made for men, and boys early learned the sting of horse sweat in a galled crotch.
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The trip to Texas astride the little mare was an outstanding event in Charlie's life. A horse was carrying the boy who dreamed in the woods of southern Illinois to the land where any dreaming boy would wish to be, to young, turbulent, unsettled Texas. Early in life his spindly legs began to bow against the vibrant sides of a saddle horse, always thereafter to be more at home against the sweat leathers of a stock saddle than moving awkwardly in cowboy walk upon the ground.
After crossing the Mississippi at St.
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They crossed Red River, drove by Paris, and on to Dallas, a trading post, as Charlie recalled, consisting of a ferryboat and one log cabin belonging to some hunters and traders. The river was low, the boat reached entirely across the narrow current, and, by placing logs at either end to raise it to the level of the landings, the emigrants drove across as on a bridge, paying a toll for passage.
Along the west bank of the Trinity, Charlie saw his first buffalo. Great, powerful, shaggy-headed creatures, they must have stirred his imagination, and excited great longing to watch, perhaps to hunt, and certainly to know more about them. Hunters had rounded them up in the river bottom with a pack of curs and were leisurely shooting them down.
Near Waxahachie, he again saw them rounded up and killed in the same way, thus learning that the best way of handling the buffalo was by the use of dogs, for these great, fierce, brindle dogsof the frontier resembled lobos, of which animal alone the buffalo had much to fear.
Across the prairie country to the south, by the extreme western road of the State, Daugherty led his family into the heart of Texas. After leaving the Trinity they passed no houses until they reached the Randall Robinson Plantation on the Little Brazos, where they crossed, and came to the main Brazos at Old Nashville.
The settlers were forted up, but breathing more freely than usual as Indians had not depredated for a year or so. Pleased with the settlement and the country, Daugherty rented a farm just below the junction of the rivers, and there the family put in its first year in Texas. The farthermost settler beyond them was an old Georgian Major—said never to have seen an army—by the name of Bryant. He had two wives whom he kept in the same house, and since he could not live around conventional folks, who disapproved of his arrangement, was forced to be the most distant settler upon the frontier—just fifteen miles up Little River from Cameron.
The two wives did not live in perfect congeniality, much to the Major's disgust, who swore that it was 'damned strange, since there was no one else within fifteen miles of them. Settlers generally forted up and went out from a central location to work their farms or herd their cattle during the day, returning to their homes at night. In the middle forties most of them were farmers, combining stock-raising with agricultural pursuits.
Their wants were ordinarily few, their needs the simple necessities of life. Corn and cotton were the principal crops; corn for home use, for bread and horse feed, and cotton for sale or exchange. Houston was the nearest point of delivery and the trade center for all the Western frontier. Shortly after Daugherty settled in Texas, his wife quit him 'for good reason,' as Charlie explained. Again she was a widow, in a destitute, lonely, and unsettled country.
Three months later a baby was born, bringing the family to five. Besides her own efforts, the only dependence was Elijah, aged fifteen, and Charlie, small for his eleven years. Elijah could find unremunerative but steady work upon neighboring farms, and fortunately Charlie found work with a merchant named Aiken at four dollars a month.
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There was little stability to the tenure of their home. In they located at Port Sullivan, and again Charlie went to work, this time for an Irish farmer named Sullivan, who paid him double his first salary. A History of the JA Ranch.
Crafting A Southwestern Masterpiece: J. Evetts Haley And Charles Goodnight: Cowman & Plainsman.
December 13, Dobie, J. Austin: University of Texas Press, Haley, J. Charles Goodnight: Cowman and Plainsman. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, Hagan, William Thomas.
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