Molly Goodnight
Famous Texas Cattle Rancher

(1839 to 1926)

Mary Ann (Molly) Dyer was the wife of Charles Goodnight, who established the JA Ranch, which included a huge area in the panhandle of Texas and is credited with the invention of the chuckwagon. She was the first white woman on the Liano Estacado and one time, she was the only woman on the ranch. She was well loved and respected by the cattlemen for her compassion, discretion, and her many home remedies for wounds and fevers. She became known to the countless hands that worked for her husband as “the Mother of the Panhandle” and to others as “The Darling of the Plains”.

Molly was born on September 9, 1839 in Madison County, Tennessee and was a schoolteacher in her younger years. After moving to Texas, Molly learned quickly about ranch life and established her place as wife and helpmate to the most famous rancher on the High Plains. Her life centered on the traditional chores of ranch life, however, her interests extended to protecting baby buffalo after commercial hunters ravaged the Plains. She crossbred range cattle with buffalo to produce “Cattalo.” Molly even had her own brands, the PATM in Colorado and the Flying T brand in Texas.

Molly died in 1926 and her gravestone reads: “Mary Ann Dyer Goodnight One who spent her whole life in the service of others.”

Molly Goodnight is portrayed by both LaJuanna Faught and Brenda Magee.