Dorinda Melissa Moody was born January 15, 1808 in Iredell, North Carolina to John Wyatt Moody and Mary "Polly" Baldwin. As the oldest of six children, it was her responsibility to care for her younger siblings while her mother helped in the fields. In the free moments between her many responsibilities, Dorinda spent time on her handwork, eventually becoming quite proficient.
When Dorinda was seventeen years old, she met and then married William Gidson Salmon on July 24, 1825. They had three children: Philina, Margaret and Marginia. When Margaret was two years old, she died of membranous croup. In 1834, while on a business trip William died from drinking poisoned whiskey. He was buried before word of his death got back to Dorinda. As a widow with two children, Dorinda worked first as a domestic helper, then began to support her family by selling her handwork. According to Carolyn O'Bagy Davis, "Since it took hours of work to produce pennies of compensation, she must have worked swiftly, and since there were many needle workers, her skills must have been superior. That she could support her family by this method attests to her skills."
She eventually moved to Houston, Texas to live by her parents. Her father died shortly afterward, so she and her mother helped each other out. On April 25, 1837, she married Michael Roup Goheen. They lived on a cotton plantation with slaves and servants. They also owned dairy cows and a large herd of Texas Longhorns. Dorinda was a strong advocate of education, and taught her children spelling, arithmetic, geography and history in their home. When her children were around nine and ten years of age, she would send them to live with families in town so they could attend school.
When Angelia (Philina) was twelve years old, she fell in love with a man named Ruben. Dorinda felt she was too young to marry, so she broke the two up and forbade her daughter to marry him. After a year of her daughter pining away, Dorinda felt horrible. She searched for Ruben, even advertised for him in the newspaper, but never found him. Philina never stopped loving him, though she eventually married William Brooks on January 27, 1847. On September 28, 1847, she died along with her newborn twins. Dorinda blamed herself for Philina's death, believing that she had died of a broken heart. Her daughter, Marginia, died at about the same time, at thirteen years of age.
In 1850, LDS missionaries taught Dorinda and Michael about their religion. They decided to be baptized after Michael returned from selling their cattle in Spring Creek. However, while he was there, he died of congestive chill. He was buried before word of his death got back to Dorinda. His death was a devastating blow to Dorinda. She often referrred to him as the love of her life. Six weeks after his death, Dorinda was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her mother and brother followed her into the waters of baptism shortly afterward, and they decided to "gather to Zion", or move to Utah to be with the others of their faith. Dorinda freed her slaves and sold her property. According to Carolyn O'Bagy Davis, the 1850 census listed the value of her property as $400.00, a moderately prosperous sum. She took a herd of Texas longhorn cattle and other livestock with her.
On January 8, 1852, before Dorinda sold her home, her daughter Eliza Adeline Goheen, at thirteen years of age, married Robert Lewis Lloyd. This time Dorinda did not object to the early marriage of one of her daughters. The wedding was held in Dorinda's home. Robert, Eliza's husband, had been orphaned at three years of age and taken in by his older sister. He had been working on Michael Goheen's Texas farm since he was thirteen years of age, and finally married Eliza when he was thirty years of age. Robert and Eliza always lived close to Dorinda, and shared a close family relationship.
Dorinda, along with Eliza and Robert, joined a wagon train to Utah. On this wagon train, she met William Slade. His wife had just died and left him with children, so he and Dorinda married for convenience to take care of their children. They married on February 20, 1853. On the trek to Utah, the wagon train was struck with illness, "Black Canker" or "Texas Mountain Fever". Dorinda's only son, Michael, caught the sickness and died at the age of three. Devastated by the sickness, the train took refuge in an abandoned army fort. Their first grandchild, Mary Dorinda Lloyd, was born at this fort.
By the Spring of 1854, many of the Saints were ready to leave. Eliza and Robert Lloyd left with this company, but Dorinda and William stayed behind with the others. After three years, they once again headed to Utah. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on September 17, 1856, and settled at Fort Harriman (south of Salt Lake), by Eliza and Robert.
In the Spring of 1857, Dorinda and William were called along with 28 other families to colonize Southwest Utah, as part of the cotton mission. Eliza and Robert were also a part of this group. Before leaving, Dorinda and William were remarried and sealed in the Endowment House, on April 2, 1857.
Many of the colonizers did not wear shoes because of the lack of supplies. It was so unbearably hot that it was common for their feet to get burnt on the hot earth. Dorinda's daughter would keep her feet from burning by throwing her bonnet ahead of her and then running to stand on it.
In the spring of 1858, Dorinda and William were called to move to Pine Valley, Utah, so William could work in the sawmills. This was the last move of her life. Eliza and Robert followed them. Dorinda and her brother, John, often performed dances for people at the socials. She also gave informal dance lessons to the neighborhood children.
Although she no longer grew cotton, she continued spinning it for her fabric. She gradually started using factory cloth as it became available. As her children grew up and the demands on her time lessened, her quilts became more elaborate.
William died of tonsilitis in the winter of 1872, while on a freighting trip in Nevada. He was buried before word of his death got back to Dorinda. In 1893, she won the blue ribbon and a $50.00 prize for her "Whigs' Defeat" quilt. A signature of Dorinda's work is that she did not bury her knots in the batting, but left them exposed on the back. Three of her most notable quilts came from the last years of her life: the "World's Fair", "Window Pane", and "Hanson Sunburst" quilts.
Dorinda went to the St. George, Utah Temple to get her sealing to William Slade annulled so she could be sealed to Michael Goheen. However, they would not let her. One day, William's brother came through town and met Dorinda. He informed her that William Slade was not her husband's real name. He had been born Washinton Slocum, but changed it after leaving home at sixteen years of age. With this information, she was given permission to have her sealing annulled. So, on March 8, 1884, her sealing to William was annulled and she was sealed for all eternity to Michael Roup Goheen. She referred to that day as the happiest day of her life. This action caused some hurt feelings with William's younger children because Dorinda was the only mother they had known, but she never regretted her decision.
In the winter of 1894-95, she walked out to feed her chickens in the barn across the road and broke her left arm and hip. She never recovered from that injury. After being bedridden for a year, she died on November 21, 1895, at the home of Eliza Lloyd, her daughter. She was buried in the Pine Valley Cemetery. Her granite marker has only the initials D.M.S.