This Day in Texas History: Sweethearts of the Cattle Trail Marry

This Day in Texas History:

Sweethearts of the Cattle Trail Marry

July 26, 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.

JA Ranch ChuckwagonCharles 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. Goodnight is credited with inventing the chuckwagon.

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