Sweethearts of the Cattle Trail Marry

July 26th, 1870

On this day in 1870, rancher Charles Goodnight married his sweetheart Mary Ann (Molly) Dyer. The two first met at Fort Belknap about 1864. Goodnight, a veteran cattleman, helped blaze the Goodnight-Loving Trail in 1866. His wife Molly, orphaned in the 1850s, had worked as a schoolteacher to support her younger brothers. After their wedding, the couple settled on a ranch in Colorado for a few years before moving to the Palo Duro Canyon to help establish the JA Ranch. Charles managed the ranch, trailed cattle, and continued to upgrade the herds while Molly made a home on the solitary plains near the canyon. Her husband invented a two-horned sidesaddle so that she could more easily ride on the ranch. Though the couple had no children of their own, she became the “Mother of the Panhandle” to countless ranch hands. Her care for orphaned buffaloes encouraged her husband to establish a domestic buffalo herd. In later years the ranching couple supported numerous schools, churches, and other organizations, and they established Goodnight College in 1898.

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Sweethearts of the Cattle Trail Marry

July 26th, 1870

On this day in 1870, rancher Charles Goodnight married his sweetheart Mary Ann (Molly) Dyer. The two first met at Fort Belknap about 1864. Goodnight, a veteran cattleman, helped blaze the Goodnight-Loving Trail in 1866. His wife Molly, orphaned in the 1850s, had worked as a schoolteacher to support her younger brothers. After their wedding, the couple settled on a ranch in Colorado for a few years before moving to the Palo Duro Canyon to help establish the JA Ranch. Charles managed the ranch, trailed cattle, and continued to upgrade the herds while Molly made a home on the solitary plains near the canyon. Her husband invented a two-horned sidesaddle so that she could more easily ride on the ranch. Though the couple had no children of their own, she became the “Mother of the Panhandle” to countless ranch hands. Her care for orphaned buffaloes encouraged her husband to establish a domestic buffalo herd. In later years the ranching couple supported numerous schools, churches, and other organizations, and they established Goodnight College in 1898.

«   Previous Next   »

Related Handbook of Texas Articles

Share this article

Share the Texas Day by Day

Get a Piece of Texas History in Your Inbox

With more than 27,000 articles about Texas history, the Texas State Historical Association's Handbook of Texas is the largest online encyclopedia about all things Texas. Now you can celebrate the history of Texas every day by activating your free subscription to Texas Day by Day. Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles. It's one of the best ways to learn more about Texas history — in only 15 minutes a day!

Activate your free subscription to Texas Day by Day and you can:

  • Explore Texas history each day in bite-sized pieces conveniently delivered to your inbox each morning
  • Astound your friends with your Texas history prowess
  • Get in-depth looks at some of the overlooked events and landmarks in Texas history
  • Discover new places to explore in the Lone Star State
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