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
and Brenda Magee.