I remember my dad taking me to see the "goat man" every time he came to
Cleveland. I ran
across these two postcards of him while going through some
old photographs and it brought
back some memories of my childhood. He didn't live in
Cleveland but came through here several times.
Below is some information about him from various articles
and from the back of the old postcards.
Chas. or Chess McCartney and His Goat Caravan
(Printed by Smithville Review, Smithville, Tennessee)
Chess and his Goats have been
traveling from Maine to Florida for over 30
years covering more than 100,000 miles
His headquarters is the Free Thinking Christian
Mission, Route 2, Jeffersonville, GA.
Charles McCartney is a traveling preacher. He was was
religious figure in Georgia for more than four decades.
He traveled around the United States driving an iron-wheeled caravan
of between twelve and thirty goats and was known as the "Goat Man."
McCartney was born on July 6, 1901, in Sigourney,
Iowa. He was married three times, once to a Spanish knife thrower
ten years his senior, and he had one son, Albert Gene, and possibly
two to four others.
In 1935 McCartney was injured while working for the
Works Progress Administration and experienced a religious awakening.
He hitched up his team of goats to a wagon and took to the open road
with his first wife and son. His wife made goatskin clothes for him
and his son to wear as a gimmick during their travels, but she
quickly grew tired of the road and returned to Iowa, taking their
son with her. Later in life, McCartney claimed to have visited all
of the lower forty-eight states as well as Alaska and Canada.
Settling in Jeffersonville, in Twiggs County, he established the
Free Thinking Christian Mission. It is not clear why he settled in
Georgia. From the mission he journeyed out with his goat-pulled
wagon to preach his message of impending and eternal damnation for
sinners. His path through the countryside was easily traceable from
the distinctive wooden signs he tacked on trees by the roadside,
signs bearing such harsh messages as "Prepare to Meet Thy God" with
the fires of hell painted underneath.
As his fame grew, he dressed in goatskins and
sold postcards of himself and his family. He lived off of goat's
milk and rarely bathed.
Occasionally, McCartney was attacked and mugged
during his trips around the country. During one such attack in 1969,
three young men assaulted him while he slept in his cart. He
suffered three broken ribs, and two of his favorite goats were
killed. Following this incident McCartney retired to his
Jeffersonville mission and sold his remaining goats. In 1978 his
home burned down, after which he purchased and lived in a bus.
In 1985, during one of his final journeys away from
Georgia, McCartney set out on foot to California, hoping to meet the
actress Morgan Fairchild, whom he wanted to marry. En route to
California, he was again mugged and hospitalized for his injuries.
Following his return to Georgia, he left the road for good in 1987.
He spent his final years as a local celebrity at a nursing home in
Macon, where he died at the age of ninety-seven on November 15,
© 2008 Genealogy Trails by Pam Rathbone