Mollie Dorsey Sanford was born in Rising Sun, Indiana. When she was a teenager, her family moved to Nebraska City, Nebraska, where she started a diary. In 1860, she married Byron Sanford after a nearly three-year engagement, during which time she worked as a seamstress, teacher, and cook. Shortly after their marriage, they went by oxen-drawn wagon across the plains to settle in the Colorado Territory, a journey of about eight weeks. Her diary was later published as Mollie: The Journal of Mollie Dorsey Sanford in Nebraska and Colorado Territories 1857 to 1866. It's considered an important document of Western American history and one of the most vivid and accurate portrayals of life on the 19th-century American frontier. The book is on the reading lists in American History classes at many high schools and colleges.