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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Happy Birthday To The Goat Man

Today is the Goat Man's birthday. Charles "Ches" McCartney would have been 110 years old today. For those of you who do not remember this American legend, he traveled the United States for over 50 years with a wagon pulled by a team of goats, hence the name Goat Man.

McCartney was born in Iowa in 1901, and ran away to New York City at age fourteen. There he met and married a Spanish knife thrower ten who was ten years older than he was. The two moved back to Iowa and resumed life on the farm. They had a son, Albert Gene.

Supposedly he took to the road with his goats after losing everything in the depression. Not sure what happened to the Spanish bride and Gene. One story said he sold his wife to a neighbor for a $1000.00. He traveled America with his goats, the Bible, and a copy of Robinson Crusoe.

Lots of stories followed him during his road years. He was a spy(Cold War Years), another that he was a really quite rich.  He would always gather a crowd as he camped each night. He would get out his Bible and share the Word with anyone who would listen.

He ended his travels in the late 1960's and settled in Twiggs County, living in an old school bus. I visited him fairly often during the early eighties. He was frequently seen hitchhiking between Macon and his Twiggs County home. He stank to high heaven.  Anyone giving him a ride would have some interesting conversation and a smelly car. Gene came to stay with him at some point.

Ever the adventurer, Ches traveled to California , was beaten, robbed and ended up in a LA hospital. Writer Eric Velasco and I met him at the Macon airport when he returned home. Said he went to California to marry actress Morgan Fairchild.

He spent his last years in a nursing home in East Macon, dying in 1998. I was one of many at his funeral in Twiggs County.  Gene was murdered about six months before Ches died. His murderer has never been found.

Happy Birthday to an American Legend.

1 comment:

J. Cross said...

I remember the Goat Man from when I was a child in the 40' and 50's. It was an "event" when he came thru Fort Valley with his goats.
I always kept up with him thru newspaper articles and remember when he died. I had forgotten about him until I read this post.

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