James P. Goodnight, farmer and state legislator, was born on November 21, 1831, in Allen County, Kentucky, son of Henry and Jane (Billingsly) Goodnight. He was raised on a farm and received a strong academic education. Goodnight married Mary A. Hill on September 21, 1854, and on November 19, 1854, the couple arrived in Dallas County and purchased 220 acres of land that would become their family farm.
Goodnight became a leader of the Lisbon, Texas, community. He served as a constable for Precinct Seven of Dallas County. Goodnight was county assessor and collector from 1858–1862 and again in 1866. He was chosen to represent Dallas County in the House of the Ninth Texas Legislature after James Thomas resigned; he served from February 2, 1863, to November 2, 1863. During the Civil War Goodnight joined the Thirty-first Texas Cavalry in 1863 and served in Trezevant C. Hawpe's Company A in the Commissary Department.
In 1870 he began a two-year term as county treasurer, and in 1876 he was elected assessor again. He went into business with Emory A. Gracey in 1880. The two had a gin and threshing business in Lisbon. Goodnight and his family were members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church where he was a ruling elder. He was also a Mason and a Royal Arch degree of the A.F. & A.M. He identified with the Democratic party.
He died on February 11, 1885. He is buried in the Lisbon Cemetery which is now within the Dallas city limits.
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"Goodnight, James P.," Dallas County Pioneer Association (http://dallaspioneer.org/stories/pioneers.php?ID=205), accessed September 28, 2006. Memorial and Biographical History of Dallas County (Chicago: Lewis, 1892; rpt., Dallas: Walsworth, 1976).
Ninth Legislature (1861-1863)
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Stephanie P. Niemeyer,
“Goodnight, James P.,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 25, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
July 23, 2008
Most Recent Revision Date:
August 17, 2014
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: