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What Cheer 100 Years
1965 Centennial Book
Page 199

Chess McCartney

It was in the late 1930's or 40's that Chess (or Charlie) McCartney hitched up his goats and left the What Cheer community. His home had been a 20 acre farm east of town, where he and his wife and little son, Albert Gene, lived among their goats, pet chickens, and hundreds of pigeons. He was born in 1901 east of What Cheer.

McCartney wore a beard and his reddish brown hair was long. He and the boy wore goatskin caps and coats. He built the house, an addition to a log cabin that stood on the farm longer than anyone could remember. The fences and furniture were built from saplings and bits of lumber.

Once he had a good team of horses. They died and he could not borrow money for another team. Then he started using goats for transportation and to pull his homemade farm implements. The family would go to What Cheer, Keswick, or Sigourney for groceries, riding in a wagon pulled by goats.

With his goats he has traveled thousands of miles and in most of the states, including a trip to the New York World's Fair. He was anxious to see once more the city where he sold papers for two years after running away from home and where he married a 24 year old Spanish Castilian knife thrower when he was 14. In her sideshow act she threw 25 knives around Chess. His second wife returned to Chicago after five years on the little farm. Then he married the Sigourney girl.

Now he travels on the east coast alone. His third wife is no longer with him and his son went to college. His goat wagons make a strange cavalcade as he travels with two carts pulled at tandem, with younger goats following behind or riding in a box which he calls the “maternity ward.” Hanging from the carts are pans, wash tubs, lanterns, and miscellaneous utensils. It takes him about seven weeks to go from his headquarters at Jeffersonville, Ga., to Washington, D.C. He sells postcard pictures of himself and his “Presidential Handbook” to make a living.

He has had some problems with humane societies who deplore his uses of goats for transportation, and with the highway patrol because of the traffic snarls he causes. It was reported once that he had cashed a personal check for $100. Officers thought a bad check charge would be a good way to get him off the highways. They called the bank and were informed the check would have been good to any amount up to $38,000.

About women, Chess said: “The Good Lord gave me three, which proved to be three too many. The Good Book says there'll be seven women for every man. Someone can have my other four.” Near Macon, Ga., he preaches at the “Free Thinking Christian Mission” and preaches any time and place he can find an audience.

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