The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 32, July 1928 - April, 1929 Page: 34
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Mrs. Mary Ann Goodnight, first wife of Colonel Goodnight,
who was affectionately known for forty-nine years as the "Little
Mother of The Panhandle,"a was born September 12, 1839, in
Madison County, Tennessee. She was the granddaughter of Col-
onel Robert Henry Dyer, acknowledged hero of the Battle of New
Orleans in 1815 under the command of General Jackson. Her
father, Joel Henry Dyer, was attorney general of the West District
of Tennessee and a prominent lawyer. In the year 1854, her
parents moved to Waxahachie, Texas, where she met Colonel Good-
night. In 1870 they were married and went to Pueblo, Colorado,
where Colonel Goodnight had established a large ranch. The first
seven years of their married life were spent there.
In 1877 Mrs. Goodnight moved with her husband and three
brothers to the Palo Duro Canyon, where she and her husband
lived for ten years. It was during this ten years that the buffaloes
of Texas were being killed out. The hunters did not kill the
small buffalo calves because their hides were not valuable, but
they did kill the mothers of these small calves. Mrs. Goodnight
felt sorry for these little starving buffalo calves. She prevailed
upon her husband and brother to rope some of these calves so that
she could try to raise them on a bottle. She did so and as a result
of this experiment the Goodnight buffalo herd was started and
grew until it is now one of the largest herds in the United States.
Colonel Goodnight crossed these buffaloes with cattle and produced
the cattalo. There are sixteen of these hybrid on the Goodnight
Ranch today and two hundred and three buffalo.
In 1887 Mrs. Goodnight and her husband moved to the Good-
night Ranch at Goodnight, Texas, and here they lived until the
death of Mrs. Goodnight, April 11, 1926.
Colonel and Mrs. Goodnight established Goodnight College in
1900 and maintained it until 1917. At that time it was turned
into a high school for the town of Goodnight. In this way they
were instrumental in helping several hundred Panhandle boys
and girls to obtain an education.
'All data concerning Mrs. Goodnight were obtained from two articles
written by Phoebe K. Warner, "Mrs. Charles Goodnight Was Panhandle's
First White Woman" (Amarillo Daily News, Amarillo, April 16, 1926),
and "Mary Ann Goodnight, Mother of The Panhandle" (Clarendon News,
Clarendon, May 6, 1926).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 32, July 1928 - April, 1929, periodical, 1929; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101089/m1/38/: accessed October 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.