Wednesday, March 20, 2013


By Carra Copelin

              Mary Ann "Molly" Dyer Goodnight remains a positive role model for people, young and old. Her strength and spirit are qualities that have made Texas what it is today for Texans and the rest of the world.

Molly Goodnight

              Molly was born September 12, 1839, in Madison County, Tennessee to a prominent lawyer, Joel Henry and Susan Lynch Dyer. When Molly was fourteen, the family moved to Fort Belknap, Texas, where she worked as a schoolteacher and raised her five brothers after her parents died.

              In the mid-1860s, she met Charles Goodnight and they married on July 26, 1870 in Kentucky. They settled in Pueblo, Colorado, where they worked their ranch until drought and the Panic of 1873 caused the family to move back to Texas. Irish investor, John George Adair backed Goodnight and the two men became partners, moving with their wives to the Palo Duro Canyon where they established the vast JA Ranch in May of 1877.

Goodnight home with buffalo herd

              Molly became the surrogate mother and nurse to the cowboys of the area earning their respect for her compassion and natural remedies she developed for their wounds and fevers. She taught a number of them to read and mended their clothes and for this they nicknamed her "Mother of the Panhandle" or "Darling of the Plains".

Cowboys on the JA Ranch

She persevered as a ranch woman, teacher and healer. According to WOMEN IN TEXAS by Ann Fears Crawford and Crystal Sasse Ragsdale (Eakin Press, 1982), Molly’s home remedies included “coal-oil for lice, prickly pear for wounds, salt and buffalo tallow for piles, mud for inflammation and fever and buffalo meat broth for a general tonic."

Molly and Charles Goodnight

 In 1898, Molly and Charles helped establish Goodnight College through the donation of 340 acres. Molly passed away in April 1926. Her gravestone is inscribed with a fitting tribute: "Mary Ann Dyer Goodnight, One who spent her whole life in the service of others."

Today, visitors can catch a glimpse of Molly Goodnight's life in various exhibits at the Armstrong County Museum in Claude, Texas. The museum is also working to restore the Goodnight Home, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. To learn more, visit: .

I chose Molly Goodnight because she is the epitome of Texas history and its people and she embodies the spirit of the characters I write about. I'm so glad to be a part of Women's History Month and Sweethearts of the West.

Carra Copelin, Author
Award winning author Carra Copelin writes contemporary and historical romance. Her current project is The Texas Code series of romantic suspense novels to include CODE OF HONOR, CODE OF CONSCIENCE, CODE OF JUSTICE, CODE OF LAW, and the historical KATIE AND THE IRISH TEXAN, and MATELYN AND THE TEXAS RANGER.

Summer 2013 Release

Visit Carra at these sites:


  1. Okay, you know I LOVE American History but women's history is my favorite. It just proves women are tougher than most men and are behind even the most famous of them. :)

  2. Amen, Sharla. Without women riding along beside or pushing uphill from behind, history would be a lot tougher going. Thanks for stopping by today.

  3. I really enjoyed this bit of history about the Goodnights. It was folks like them that made Texas, and the United States, the success that they have been with codes of honor and strengths of character. If Ms. Copelin writes about these types of people, then I shall, indeed, read her works!

  4. This book looks really good and I love the cover.

  5. Carra--you chose one of my favorite Texas ladies. She and Charles Goodnight were quite a team, although she thought she'd fallen off the face of the earth when they settled on the ranch down in Palo Duro Canyon.
    I've also written about Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving, who forged the Goodnight Trail, and also were the inspiration for the two characters in Lonesome Dove. Love it!
    Your newest release sounds like a good story, and I wish you much luck with it.
    Thanks for being out guest here on Sweethearts.

  6. What a beautiful, compassionate woman she was. A great tribute to the women in the making of this country. I think the women had a lot to do with making our country strong and a beautiful place to live.

    So nice to meet you today, Carra.

  7. Great article, Carra! Molly Goodnight truly is a role model for all of us, and I love the photos! Your book cover is very eye catching. Can't wait to grab the book when it comes out.

    Thanks for filling in for me today. I hope to see you back here often. Hugs! --Lyn

  8. I really enjoyed meeting another amazing woman of the old West. I knew a little about Charles, and Oliver Loving, and the trail, but of course there's always a good woman behind every man, right! Good job.

  9. Celia, thanks for having me as a guest again here at Sweethearts of the West. I am honored to be among such a great group of authors. Thanks, too, for the well wishes!

  10. Janice, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. It was fun to write and I always find something I didn't know about. I look forward to seeing you again.

  11. Thank you, Ms. Quilt Lady. I'm so glad you stopped by.

  12. Thank you, Paisley, I'm so glad you enjoyed my post. Hope to see you again.

  13. You're welcome, Lyn, and thanks. So glad I was able to be here. It's always fun!

  14. Wow, Texas is just filled with wonderful women. I loved that they had buffalo on their ranch. What a sweet person Molly was.
    I'm sorry I got here late to post a comment, Carra.


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