Gould, Charles Newton (1868–1949)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: January 1, 1995

Updated: July 16, 2016

Charles Newton Gould, geologist, the son of Simon Gilbert and Anna Arvilla (Robinson) Gould, was born on July 22, 1868, on a farm near Lower Salem, Ohio. He and his sister received their early education in country schools. In 1887 the Goulds sold their farm and moved to Ninnescah (now Cunningham), in Kingman County, Kansas. Gould attended the Normal Institute for Teachers in Kingman, obtained a third-grade teacher's certificate, and taught his first year (1888–89) in Pratt County. He continued teaching in country schools until 1893, when he became grade-school principal at Ashland, Kansas. During the spring and summer terms he attended Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in June 1899.

A lecture by L. C. Wooster, a school administrator and natural scientist, on the "Geological Story of Kansas" stimulated Gould's interest in geology, and he began collecting fossils and bones around Ashland. He sent many of his specimens to Samuel W. Williston, professor of geology at the University of Kansas, who encouraged him to pursue that profession. Gould did a year of graduate study under several leading geologists at the University of Nebraska and in June 1900 received his master of science degree. He was hired as a territorial geologist and geology instructor by the University of Oklahoma, where he organized the university's geology department and taught the first classes. During the summer months he worked with federal geological surveys in Indian Territory. He aided Joseph A. Taff in surveys of the Tahlequah quadrangle and the Arbuckle Mountains in 1901 and later prepared a map of the Wichita Mountains. On September 24, 1903, Gould married Nina Swan, who shared his interests and had worked for a time as his stenographer. They had a daughter and a son.

In the summer of 1903 the Hydrographic Branch of the United States Geological Survey commissioned Gould to investigate the geology and underground water resources west of Indian Territory and east of the Rocky Mountains. This included the water sources of the Canadian River drainage area in Texas. Traveling by horseback and covered wagon during three successive field seasons (1903–05), Gould and his colleagues became acquainted with the geological features of the Panhandle, which they mapped. Gould first named and recorded the Alibates dolomite flint ledges along the Canadian (see ALIBATES FLINT QUARRIES). He received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Nebraska in June 1906, and by 1907 his survey of the southern plains was completed.

Gould organized the Oklahoma Geological Survey in 1908. He retained his position at the University of Oklahoma until 1911, when he resigned from state work altogether and opened a consulting office in Oklahoma City. Soon many aspiring oilmen sought his services. Asked if there were any possible drilling sites in the Panhandle or in the vicinity of Amarillo, Gould remembered the anticlines, or domes, he had surveyed along the Canadian, and agreed to examine them. His reports led to the drilling of the Panhandle's first gas well by the C. M. Hapgood firm on Robert B. Masterson's ranch in 1918. Later Gould and Eugene S. Blasdel set the location for Gulf No. 2, which in 1920 resulted in the Panhandle's first successful oil well, on Samuel Burk Burnett's ranch in Carson County. The success of Gould's findings subsequently led to the Panhandle oil boom of the 1920s.

Gould's continuing geological studies of the Panhandle led him to coin the term "Amarillo Mountains" in 1922 for the buried granite ridge extending northwest from the Wichita Mountains across the Panhandle into New Mexico. In all, Gould spent thirteen years as a private consultant before beginning a second stint as a state geologist in 1924. In 1930 he and Jesse L. Nusbaum, director of the Laboratory of Anthropology at Santa Fe, identified the Alibates Flint Quarries as the source of Folsom weapon points. Between 1935 and 1940 Gould worked as a geologist for the National Park Service. During that time he turned out 251 reports that were used to help develop and upgrade tourist facilities in national parks and monuments throughout the Southwest. He died at Norman, Oklahoma, on August 13, 1949, and was buried there. His autobiography, Covered Wagon Geologist, which he wrote in 1946, was published in 1959.

Charles N. Gould, "The Beginning of the Panhandle Oil and Gas Field," Panhandle-Plains Historical Review 8 (1935). Charles N. Gould, Covered Wagon Geologist (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1959). Henry E. Hertner, ed., Three Questions, Three Answers: A Story from the Life of Dr. Charles Newton Gould (Amarillo: Potter County Historical Survey Committee, 1967).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

H. Allen Anderson, “Gould, Charles Newton,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 21, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/gould-charles-newton.

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January 1, 1995
July 16, 2016