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The Goodnight Ranch

Goodnight is a name that calls to mind cattle drives from North Texas to Wyoming or Montana and also the start of ranching in the Panhandle.  Charles Foxwing Goodnight, Jr. was born in Illinois, not too far north of St. Louis, Missouri to farmers Charles and Charlotte Collier Goodnight in 1836.  His father died five years after this and his mother married Hiram Henry Daugherty, a farmer who lived nearby.  A few years later in 1845, the family headed for Texas, settling between what is now Milam County between College Station to the east and Austin to the west.  Charles did not receive much formal schooling and began working as a cowboy to help the family get by.  His first stepfather Daughterty also died not long after arriving in Texas.  His mother then married a minister by the name of Adam Sheek in 1853.  Goodnight and a step brother, John Wesley Sheek, began a ranching operation and around 1857 they relocated it further up the Brazos to what is now Palo Pinto County.  Once they got settled, they brought the family with them.

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Posted by on August 17, 2017 in history, ranch families, texas

 

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George Bernard Erath

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(Image credit: Waco Tribune Herald)

George Bernard Erath was born in Vienna, Austria in 1813.  He was educated at Vienna Polytechnic Institute where he studied liberal arts.  Young Erath lived on his own and worked for a few years in Europe, eventually setting sail for America.  One of the reasons given for his departure was that he did not want to be drafted into service for the Austrian Army.  Whatever his justification for not wanting to serve in Austria, he would show no reluctance whatsoever to fight for the State of Texas.  In fact, he spent years doing just that.  He arrived in America in the summer of 1832 in New Orleans.  He then worked in Cincinnati, Ohio before returning to the South again in Florence, Alabama for a short time.  Erath then relocated to Texas in 1833 where he would remain for the rest of his life, entering at Brazoria on the Gulf and settling in Robertson County.

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Dale Evans, born in Uvalde

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(Image credit: gettyimages.com, showing Dale Evans between the actor Jimmy Stewart and Dale’s husband Roy Rogers.)

Dale Evans was born Lucile Smith (later changed to Frances Octavia Smith) on October 31, 1912 in Uvalde, Texas to Walter Hillman Smith and Bettie Sue Coln, according to published genealogy records.  The family later moved to Osceola, Arkansas where she attended high school.  When she was 14, she eloped and married Thomas Frederick Fox with whom she had her first born son, Tom Fox, Jr.  The marriage ended shortly thereafter and two years later, she married August W. Johns.  In 1936, she married Robert Dale Butts, which relationship lasted about nine years.  She had no children from the latter two marriages.  In her early years, she struggled as a single parent and supported herself by working as a secretary, a singer and working in radio in Chicago, Memphis, Dallas and Louisville.  She was given the stage name of Dale Evans by a radio station manager who suggested it because it was easier to pronounce than Frances Octavia Smith.

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Posted by on July 20, 2017 in biography, history, texas, texas women

 

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Charley Willis, the singing cowboy

The 1940 Kingsport, Tennessee Kingsport Times headline read “For Carefree Fun, Sing Cowboy Ditties” and offered copes of Popular Cowboy Songs in exchange for ten cents in coin.  It led off with “Goodbye, Old Paint” and included several other songs of the era along with the guitar chords for each melody.

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(Image credit: Kinsgsport Times)

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Posted by on July 13, 2017 in biography, black history, history, texas

 

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Juan Cortina, patriot or bandit?

The Cortina Wars is a name given to armed conflicts precipitated by a Mexican rancher named Juan Cortina.  Juan Nepomuceno Cortina was born in 1824 in Tamaulipas, Mexico into a cattle ranching family.  His mother, Trinidad Cortina inherited some property in the late 1820s that was in the general area of what we know as Brownsville and Matamoros, located on both sides of the Rio Grande.  At this time, the Rio Grande geographically divided the two areas, but it was all part of Mexico until after the Mexican-American War, which essentially moved the Mexican border from the Nueces River to the Rio Grande.

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Posted by on June 15, 2017 in biography, hispanic heritage, history, texas

 

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Col. Richard E. Cole, Doolittle Raider

 

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(Image credit: U. S. Air Force.  Cole is on the front row, to Doolittle’s right.)

Just a little more than one month after the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo on April 18, 1942, details were released to the media about the military action.  The occasion was an award ceremony honoring pilots and crew of the historic attack.  In an Associated Press report out of Washington on May 22, the identity of the leader was revealed to be Brig. Gen. James H. Doolittle.  Coming only a few months after the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II, the raid shook the Japanese belief that the U.S. could not reach them on their own soil.  In addition, it greatly improved the morale in the United States at a time when it was extremely low.

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Posted by on June 8, 2017 in biography, history, texas

 

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Robert Emmett Bledsoe Baylor

Before the Texas Revolution, the official religion of the area was Roman Catholicism according to Spanish law.  Landowners were required to espouse the Roman Catholic faith and many did so in order to obtain title to their land.  However Protestant families moved to the area prior to and following the Texas Revolution.  R. E. B. Baylor, a Baptist, came to Texas in late 1839.  By then, there were already a number of Baptist families in Texas.  After a couple of failed efforts, the Baptist Union Association was formed in the fall of 1840 and included churches from La Grange, Travis and Independence.  Baylor was a circuit judge and was an ordained minister.  By about 1845, there were hundreds of fellow Baptists in the area.  Among other things, the Association had been concerned about education and formed an Education Society of which R. E. B. Baylor was selected to be President.

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