John Jay Good

Future Dallas mayor, John Jay Good (1827-1882), rode astride his horse Roderick throughout north central Texas during the mid-19th century to practice law in the 9th and later the 16th District Court as it moved from county to county deliberating civil and criminal cases. Traveling with just what he could carry on horseback, Good encountered panthers, crossed swollen streams, endured extremes of temperatures, searched for water, suffered infestations of fleas and bedbugs, and slept on the ground and in a smokehouse. This insight into the life of a frontier lawyer emerges from a series of 73 letters written to his bride, the former Susan Anna Floyd, from 1854 to 1861. Good also discusses his legal cases which ranged from cattle branding to murder and included the successful use of an insanity defense and the good prospects of wresting the Tarrant county seat from Birdville for his client, the town of Fort Worth. They also reveal the uncertain schedule of a frontier lawyer and the heartache of long separations from loved ones. Good served as captain of Good's Batter of Light Artillery during the Civil War. He was elected to public office twice -- as 16th District Court Judge, 1866-1867, and as mayor of Dallas, 1880-1881. This photograph was taken on John and Susan Good's wedding day in Dallas, July 25, 1854.

John Jay Good Papers, Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington