Trail-Blazing: The Dark Side

1 minute read

“Charles Goodnight was a legendary trailblazer before Adair arrived on the scene with financing. For all the romance of his great cattle drives, they have a little known dark side…”

Goodnight and Loving were planning too long a drive and too hard a trip to permit them even to think of running a calf wagon. All they could do was kill the calves and drive the bawling mothers along the trail with the herd.

The worst job fell to a Negro cowboy, Jim Fowler. Every morning Goodnight gave the cowboy a six-shooter and told him to shoot the calves dropped during the night. Then the other hands drove the cows off the bed-ground. At the end of a day's drive the cows had to be hobbled to prevent their going back to look for their calves.

Fowler did is job, but he did not like it. Killing calves every morning was worse than drowning kittens. Finally he asked Goodnight to get someone else to do the shooting.

But everyone else was busy, and Fowler had to go on acting as an unwilling butcher. Goodnight was understanding, but he had too many worries to spend too much time lamenting the fate of the calves or sympathizing with their executioner.

Philip Durham & Everett L. Jones
The Negro Cowboys