The Goat Man

“The Goat Man” at the end of his life.

“The Goat Man is here!” Word would quickly spread through town as soon as someone spotted the famous wanderer and his band of smelly goats on the outskirts. Adults and children alike would drop whatever they were doing and dash over for a visit with the Goat Man.

McCartney in 1945

An article in the New Georgia Encyclopedia says Charles (“Ches”) McCartney was a significant folk and religious figure in Georgia for more than four decades. After being injured on a Works Progress Administration job, McCartney experienced a religious awakening and began traveling to preach his message of eternal damnation for sinners.  It is widely held that McCartney was an influence on the writings of Georgia author Flannery O’Connor.

After being brutally attacked several times, McCartney settled in South Georgia,  his unique life’s story ending in a Macon nursing home in 1998.

Newspaper articles about “Goat Man” can be found in the Georgiana Collection clipping files of the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Additional images of McCartney and his goats can be found in the Vanishing Georgia Collection by searching for “Charles McCartney” or “Goat Man.”

If you have memories of the “Goat Man’s” visits, leave a comment — we’d love to hear from you!


61 Replies to “The Goat Man”

  1. I remember seeing the Goat Man in Birmingham, AL back in the mid-’60s. He was at the Eastwood Mall. I was never sure what the deal was, but as I recall he came more than once, so I assumed he was on some kind of circuit. At least I assume this was the same guy—that photo of his rig is exactly as I remember it. Glad to know after all these years what his backstory was. Kinda sad, really.

  2. This was a very interesting read with an abundance
    of information within! Very good work by the author!
    Thank you for sharing this with us!

  3. Recently, I decided to have a picture of myself, my brother, and my cousin restored showing us with the goat man at the bridge connecting Beech Island SC. to Augusta Ga. This bridge was known as the Sand Bar Ferry bridge and has been replaced with a new bridge. I am 60 years old now and I appeared to be around 8 years old at the time. This would have made it around 1958. It seems that one of his goats was missing a leg and always rode on top of the wagon. I am so glad to see that others have my same memories of this unusual man and his goats. Those were the days.

  4. I’m almost 61 years old now. I grew up in North Augusta on Courtney Drive, in Smithfield subdivision; same neighborhood as Paul Knox Junior High. I remember seeing the Goat Man come right up Courtney Drive. I don’t know where he was going, but it was always exciting when he showed up. I’m sure others in the neighborhood remember him too.

  5. I visited my grandmother in Waycross Georgia in the early 1960’s and we saw the goat man
    several times on our way from Jacksonville. Seems to me we got a post card and some sort of tricket. It was so exciting! I go back to Waycross and nothing is as I remembered. My memory is that it was like “To Kill A Mocking Bird”. My grandmother’s street is now like
    an intercity neighborhood. I have fond memories of my summers there, mowing
    the yard, sitting on her front porch with no air condition! Running bare foot and going down to the railroad tracks and placing pennies on the track. She knew every train schedule! Imagine telling your grandkids to run to the railroad tracks!! How times have changed.

  6. I remember seeing the Goat Man outside of Young Harris, GA. He was camped by Quince Townsend’s store on the road to Blairsville. That would have been sometime in the early 1960’s. He certainly made an impression on me to remember him for all these years!!!


  8. It is Christmas Eve and while reminiscing with my elderly aunt she pulled out some old photos of a man with a bunch of goats. It turns out my nephew knew that this man was “the goat man”. At some point while my aunt was stationed in the military in the south she and friends came upon this man and had to take pictures since it was such an odd event. This shows how we must treasure our seniors and learn from them…you never know what you might find out.

  9. As a kid in the 70’s the Goatman would come through Adairsville Ga. He would camp at the corner of hwy41 and hwy 140, the vacant lot is still there! The word would travel “The Goatmans Comin” and people would line the sides of the road to see and talk to him. As a kid the wagon was amazing I remember standing there with my mouth hanging open in a stare thinking what the heck! The goats were funny they would climb all over the wagon. I will never forget this from my childhood….

  10. I grew up in Macon, GA during the 60s and 70s and we used to see the goat man all the time driving his goats through town. He was just part of the scenario and a regular fixture. I’ve never forgotten him.

  11. I saw this man on his trips from Washington Ga. to Thompson Ga. Always the burning tires.

  12. Yes this a memory of a time gone by. I saw the goat man around 1961 or 1962 in Dalton, Ga he camped out in front of our house on Hwy 41. I will never forget I was about 6 or 7 years old at the time I wish I still had the pictures he gave to my dad.

  13. I have two pixs of the goatman in August 1962. With two cars, my family was on the way to Florida from Md. In Georgia,we stopped that morning to cook breakfast campstyle. Down the road the goatman came and amused all nine of us. He stopped and ate and moved on. He was very nice and friendly. I never forgot him and still have the pixs of him, the commical wagon and his family of goats. He couldn’t have gotten anything else on his wagon. Great memories!!

  14. I grew up in the small town of Arabi, Ga on US 41. The “Goat Man” camped many times on a hill just outside of town and my Uncle would always take my Brother and I out to see him right after supper. Sometimes my Mom or Grandmother would sent him a supper plate along with us. Those were sweet simple days.

  15. I grew up in rural Laurens County, GA and we often saw the goat man when he would travel along Hwy 441. He would pass by our house and we would all run out to see him. You could hear him coming with all the goats and the pots and pans rattling. He would park at a little country store a mile or so away and everyone would stop and talk to him or just listen to him preach. Fun memories!

  16. I remember him vividly as a very young child and as a man with a very special “something” about him. Children and adults loved him. He would show up in the 60/s and 70/s at unexpected times slowly riding in a buggy with goats calmly pulling it down the highway. He would hand out color postcards of the vehicle and goats for all. He was always happy and smiling. He dressed in overalls.

    This was Bulloch County; Brooklet and Stilson areas. We hated to see him go and would wonder where he went that made him so very happy in his simple and non material life. We actually wanted to go with him. I know now it was a spiritual realm he lived in and that he would have been content and happy anywhere where he could touch the lives of others in his simple wonderful way.

  17. I remember The Goat Man traveling down Hwy 41 in Calhoun and Adairsville Ga. in the late 60’s and early 70’s. We saw him a few different times with his waggon and many goats. We never talked to him, but he always weaved at us as he went by. The rumor’s we heard was that he was really rich, but choose to live with his goats.

  18. I remember seeing “the goat man” camped along hw 278 between Rutledge and Covington near a place called the Hub Junction in the 1950’s. He was a sight to behold!

  19. It was only once, but I remember the Goat Man coming through our small town of Danville Kentucky in the mid fifties. I was only out ten or so ,but have never forgotten the event!

  20. I recall seeing Mr. McCartney and his goats several times as a kid growing up in Hokes Bluff, AL during the late fifties and early sixties. He was travelling along US 278 between Gadsden and Piedmont, AL. A very nice man.

  21. I saw him outside of Hokes Bluff in the early sixties. Wonderful memories and the amazement that I remember and I know I will never forget.

  22. I remember the goat man coming up us 150 out of springfield ky and stopping at coconaughers grocery near east texas for a day or two. he sure drawed in a crowd. I’m sure mom and dad had a picture of him posed with his team of goats but I haven’t located it yet. this was in the mid to late 50’s I was probably 7 or 8 yrs old at the time.

  23. Grandpa Lloyd, Uncle David and I saw the Goat Man in Boswell, IN in 1946 or ’47. I have a postcard from that visit. I was 4 or 5.
    Years later, I asked Dean Johnson, a Boswell boy, if he remembered that occasion. He said that he and brother Gordon played with the goats and explored the wagon. When their mother found out what they had done, she immediately threw them in the bathtub.

  24. I grew up in Ellijay, Georgia and I remember seeing the Goat Man numerous times during the late 50’s and early 60’s. We had a little store/service station on Chatsworth highway and he would travel from Ellijay to Chatsworth. He camped
    once under the trees beside our store. At one time he had a young boy traveling with him. Rumor was that it was his son, but I never really knew. I also remember seeing him on the highway as we would travel from Ellijay to Waycross to see my sister.

  25. I remember the goat man stopping on the side of the road between Menlo, GA and Summerville, GA. My sons were maybe 4 and 6 and they loved the goats. I think I remember my husband giving a small donation to him. I wish I’d had a camera with me. But I do have the memories of seeing him two or three times.

    GEAT MEMORIES…………………….

  27. I remeber seeing the goat man coming thru Dublin, Ga. back in 1960. He would have a baby goat under the set of his wag0n, also pot and pans jingling as they traveled down the road. Cars would be backed up behind then waiting for an oppertunity to pass. When he stopped to camp at night people would stop to make pictures of him and their children petting his goats. This will never happen agqain in our life time. Becuse of the fast pase would we are living in today.

  28. I sow the goat Man come threw Lumpkin County Dahlonega Ga in the area of Turners Conner around 1950

  29. It was the summer before I started first grade and I was about 6 years old when my daddy came home from his workplace and told me that he had something he wanted me to see. It was summer, I remember, because it was hot and I was wading in the shallows of our pond. Dad and I got in his truck and rode a couple of miles, to extra pastures Daddy leased for horses. In the pasture, under a row of pecan trees, there he and his group of goats and, well, what I thought was The Beverly Hillbillies wagon. He was old as leather, had a decently long white beard, and good Lord, he STUNK! Daddy talked to him about Alabama, where Daddy was born and raised, and I remember The Goatman saying something about being in Alabama often. My father offered the Goatman a ride to our little “town” of Dalzell, SC, where the nearest store and post office were. I still remember getting in the middle of Daddy’s ’66 Ford pickup, and the Goatman sat to my right, and the nasty stink was gross, even to a 6 year old. We let the man do whatever he did and I remember taking him back to the goats and his stuff. Daddy even offered to let the Goatman “clean-up” at our home, ( Daddy was a good Methodist Layleader) but thankfully the man refused kindly. I saw the Goatman leave our Dalzell, SC community, the next day. He must have had 10 or so goats, and they pulled his wagon down the road. I know there may be more than one man like this, in our past, but I can honestly say that this memory has stayed with me for the past 43 years, and will always be a fond childhood event.

  30. When I was very young in the early ’70’s, my family and I lived in Augusta. We used to go to a pecan orchard owned by friends of the family in Tignall to pick pecans. On one of these trips, probably around 1972, we encountered The Goat Man on HWY 78 just outside Washington. He was parked on the side of the road in a grove of trees feeding his goats. My grandfather immediately announced, “Well as I live and breathe…it’s the Goat Man! Haven’t seen him in nigh on 30 years!” Of course, I begged for us to stop so that I could see the goats. He was very pleasant and very colorful…I remember him letting me pet one of the goats and cautioning me not to scratch his left ear because that was his “fightin’ ear!” It was quite a memory for a six year old!

  31. I have a beautiful black and white postcard of the Goat Man, particularly exciting because my grandfather in rural middle Tennessee used to tell me stories about him. Is there a Library or other collection of Goat Man items that might be interested in the postcard?

  32. I am 74 years old, but I remember very well around 1948 or 1950 when I was around 9 or 10 years old spending the summer with my uncle Bub at the Statesville Brick Co. in Statesville , NC. He come home from work one day and said lets go see the goat man. He was traveling North on hwy. 67 / 70 between Statesville and Catawba NC. When we got there he was feeding his goats and changing their positions in the hook-up and takeing care of the crippled one’s, changeing there leg bandages. It seemed to me that he had around 25 to 30 goats, he even put some in the waygon because of their injuries. I was amazed at the pots, pans, bells, tubs and all kinds of junk hanging on the side of the waygon. It was a big stink with the goat man and all of his goats… I have never gotten over all of the excitment on that day.

  33. Remember the Goat Man passing through Jamestown,Tn. in the 50’s. Saw him again in the 70’s traveling W. hwy 70. Still have one his post cards posing with his goats.

  34. I remember seeing The Goat Man the first time around 1965 or 66. Along U.S.Hwy17 @Midway Ga.We had an artisian well and the overflow pipe went to the ditch.It was good clean water. Travelers got water there often. He stopped and got water for the goats and himself. You could easily hear him coming by his banging pots and pans or the cars honking as they passed him.He was one of many interresting people that passed down that road.I would love to have one of his postcards.

  35. Mr. White, we would very much be interested in the postcard.

    Perhaps we should devote one of our First Person Project oral history days (based on the StoryCorpsmodel) to memories of the Goat Man!

  36. I remember seeing the Goat Man in Mountain Park (near Stone Mountain in Gwinnett County) in the mid and late 60s. He stopped twice that I can remember near the intersections of Rockbridge Road, Five Forks Trickum and Old Tucker Road (hence the name Five Forks). I’ve had a fascination with the Goat Man ever since. As a child I thought it was the way to live!

  37. I grew up in Columbus, Georgia and remember often hearing people talk about the Goat Man. Once, when I was still very young, I saw him with his cart parked off the side of the road near the shops at St. Elmo. I am guessing that the year would have been around 1960, or soon after, when I would have been around 6 years old. The sight of the charismatic Goat Man with his 20+ goats and that ancient-looking wooden cart was incredible to behold. It seemed to me like he had travelled through time with that cart. Even after all the years since, my brief look at that scene is still one of my most impressive and memorable.

  38. I am now 85 years old. As a young 14/15 year old, I had an after school job at Baxter’s cafe/soda shop/bus station/service station located on US 80 where it crosses the Summit-Graymont (now Twin City) Georgia road. The Goat man parked his cart beside the building on more than one occasion and stayed there for a period of time. We youngsters were concerned as this was during WW II and our parents told us to stay away from him. He had a battery operated radio and we could hear it when he was listening to it. We thought he might be a spy or someone who might be interested in doing harm to our nearby water tower/system. Over the years, I would occasionally see him traveling down the road or camped out along the road. The last time I saw him was along US 301 between Statesboro and Register, GA. At that time, he had a goat, born with it’s front legs missing and also a goat born with the sexual organs of both a male and female. He delighted in showing and talking about both of them. Scenes to never be duplicated nor forgotten.

  39. I remember seeing him several times during the early to mid-60’s. The main highway from Atlanta to Florida was highway 41. We lived in a small town south of Atlanta and he came through
    every couple of years. It was already fun to see the old guy with the beard and his goats.

  40. I was just writing a few notes on FaceBook about the Goat Man and my artwork featuring him, including our best-selling print “America’s Goat Man- Mr. Ches McCartney”.

    I was pleased to find your blog dedicated to the Goat Man. Your conversations should help keep his unique image alive. When we first published the print (in 1983, I wrote a short narrative about Mr. McCartney to accompany each print- and now I am reviewing my archived photographs and anecdotes about him, and plan to publish a more extended account of his unique life. You might want to click on the following link to view the art print.

    Larry K. Martin

  41. I am now in my late 50s but as a child recall the mystery of the man my parents referred to as ” the goat man”. Just outside Rome, Ga., Armuchee , on highway 27 north he was camped out with all the goats and my mom, who was and is an amazing cook, would fill a plate of her freshly home cooked food, cover with foil, and we would all pile in the station wagon and take it to him. He was most grateful and I’ll never forget him. I’m happy to find this article and pics since I’m now a mom and when I tell this story, it seems too far fetched for kids today to believe.

  42. I remember as a kid in around 62 – 63 my parents carrying me over to Hwy 42 which is Moreland Ave. just south of Atl. to see the Goat Man. both times he was parked around the same area and I’m not sure how they knew he was there because we lived about 20 miles away.

  43. I remember as a kid in around 62 – 63 my parents carrying me over to Hwy 42 which is Moreland Ave. just south of Atl. to see the Goat Man. both times he was parked around the same area and I’m not sure how they knew he was there because we lived about 20 miles away. One of the few things that made Beverly Hillbillies sound possible.

  44. I grew up in Danville, GA, just outside of Jeffersonville, GA. The giatman would come down Hwy 80 right in front of our school. He would stop and they would let school out early so that we could go see him and his goats. He always had post cards and Bible tracts. He would preach to us and also tell us stories of his travels. After he left the road, me and my daddy would often see him walking on Hwy 80 and daddy would pick him up and take him where he wanted to go! A true piece of Americana in my own backyard. He was much loved by many in our small county. He was always real fiery but very nice.

  45. The Goatman came through Columbus, Ga.
    in the mid 60’s. I remember him mostly because
    From that time on, whenever someone would
    Ask my dad who he was going to vote for
    President, he would reply “The Goatman”.

  46. The Goatman came by our house on US Highway 78 in Heflin, Alabama on a regular basis. It generated a bit of excitement, kind of like the circus coming to town, when he passed through. Around 1970, he stopped in front of our house. Mother took him a sack full of her delicious homemade biscuits with sausage. I walked out with her. Mr. Ches was polite and grateful for the food. It was quite a sight in our little town. He and his “entourage” were exceedingly pungent. On a side note, Larry Martin’s artwork of Mr. Ches does a great job of bringing back those memories; you can almost smell it!

  47. I didn’t meet Ches until he was in his nineties and living in the Eastside nursing home in Macon. He had “taken up ” with my Mother/in-law Virgina Tanner. They acted as though they had known each other for many years. We used to take Ches out for lunch and he become our adopted Grandfather. By then Virginia had had a few mini strokes so we were never sure how much of their stories were fact or fiction, but to hear them tell it, they had been in love for many years …,which was news to my husband . I grew up in Valdosta in the 50’s and 60’s and remember my Grandmother talking about the Goatman. Little did I dream that he would be part of my life.

  48. I grew up in Bonifay, Florida, and The Goat Man would come into town from the West on Highway 90. He would stop at our house, and Mrs. Dikes, who was our housekeeper for years, would give him a heaping plate of all the fresh food she had cooked for the day along with a quart sized Mason jar filled with iced sweet tea. Except for the Mason jar, I remember that he was always served using our regular china and silverware. Mrs. Dikes would admonish us kids to let him eat in peace, as he sat under the stand of tall pines that encircled the round cement picnic table and benches in the corner of our front yard. Of course we sat with him and asked endless questions about him and his wagon; and especially about his goats.

    My family also saw him and one of his goats on Panama City Beach near the Long Beach Pier one summer, when we were on vacation. When we recognized him, my two brothers and I ran to greet him, and he warmly recognized each of us. We walked in tow with him back up the beach to where my parents were. We talked for quite a while…playing with his goat, taking photos and offering him something to eat from the pier’s snack bar. The Goat Man always enjoyed Mrs. Dikes’ great Southern cooking, but he had to settle for a couple of hot dogs and a large iced Coke that day on the beach.

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