"Lone Star Historian 2" is a blog about the travels and activities of the State Historian of Texas during his second year. Bill O'Neal was appointed to a two-year term by Gov. Rick Perry on August 22, 2012, at an impressive ceremony in the State Capitol. Bill is headquartered at Panola College (www.panola.edu) in Carthage, where he has taught since 1970. For more than 20 years Bill conducted the state's first Traveling Texas History class, a three-hour credit course which featured a 2,100-mile itinerary. In 2000 he was awarded a Piper Professorship, and in 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wild West Historical Association. Bill has published over 40 books, almost half about Texas history subjects, and in 2007 he was named Best Living Non-Fiction Writer by True West Magazine. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by his alma mater, Texas A&M University - Commerce.
|At the Quanah Parker Trail Arrow in|
front of the house where the chief visited.
Goodnight opened five cattle trails, the most famous of which was the Goodnight-Loving Trail. He had an uncanny sense of direction and terrain, and his masterful organization and careful precautions earned him safe passage where others encountered various disasters. His most famous ranch was the JAs, named after British financier John Adair. At its height, in the mid-1880s, more than 100,000 JA cattle grazed on over 1,335,000 acres. The headquarters complex of the JAs was in Palo Duro Canyon. Early in our marriage in 1994, Karon and I visited these historic buildings, while researching Historic Ranches of the Old West, which was published by Eakin Press in 1997. The old JAs headquarters structures still are in use and are little changed from the 1800s.
Adair died in 1885, and within two years Goodnight and Adair’s widow made a settlement that involved the sale of his minority interest. In 1887 the Fort Worth and Denver City Railroad laid tracks through Armstrong County and named a townsite after the famed cattleman. Goodnight and his wife Molly moved to the prospective community and in the area he established a new ranch. Goodnight and his wife Molly built a two-story, rambling frame house where the famed cattleman spent the last four decades of his life.
The Goodnight house was the first Panhandle home designed by an architect. The floor plan and many distinctive architectural features were Victorian in style. The home featured a large second-floor sleeping porch in the rear, as well as an office behind the ground-floor master bedroom. The office was decorated to his tastes, and when Karon and I toured the house, our docent accurately described it as his “man cave.” Quanah Parker was among the frontier notables who visited with Goodnight in the den. Rancher-author J. Evetts Haley also spent time with Goodnight, later producing a classic biography of the pioneer rancher.
|Rear of the house sleeping porch on the 2nd level|
Goodnight sold the ranch in 1919, with the provision that he and Molly could live out their lives in the house they had built. Molly died in 1926, after 55 years of marriage, and Goodnight passed away three years later, at the age of 93. Goodnight was buried beside Molly at the Goodnight Cemetery, on a hilltop west of the little community.
|"Back from the Brink," statue showing Molly Goodnight|
nurturing a buffalo calf on the home ranch.
|School for ranch children|
|J. Evetts Haley Visitor and Events Center|
|Working a rolling exhibit|