Mary Ann (Molly) Dyer Goodnight


The nearest neighbors were 75 miles away when Molly Goodnight established the first ranch household in the Texas Panhandle in 1877. Backed by Cornelia and John Adair, Molly and her husband Charles co-founded the famous JA Ranch in Palo Duro Canyon, three years after the last Comanches in Texas were driven from the area.

Goodnight gave parties for the cowboys, taught them to read, and patched their clothes. In the early ranch years, she was so lonely that once she made pets out of three chickens a cowboy had brought her to cook for Sunday dinner. She also rescued orphaned buffaloes, establishing a buffalo herd and a Cattalo herd crossbred with range cattle. She had her own cattle brand, the Flying T. In 1898, she helped establish Goodnight College.

Biography Source Information

Biographies are reprinted from the Foundation for Women’s Resources (now Women’s Resources), Dallas, Texas. They originally appeared in "From Gutsy Mavericks to Quiet Heroes: True Tales of Texas Women," video study guide, Austin: The Foundation for Women's Resources, 1997. Death dates have been added where needed.