According to Philip Durham Author of The Adventures of the Negro Cowboys, Miss Fields was “perhaps the most remarkable” of the black women in western towns.
Mary Fields, aka Stagecoach Mary (1832-1914) – Born as a slave in Tennessee, Fields was one of the first women entrepreneurs, stagecoach drivers, pioneers of the American West. See Article HERE.https://www.legendsofamerica.com/trail-blazers/
I’m an avid watcher of western movies. I’ve about exhausted YOUTube and Amazon Prime Western videos.
It is December, and I’ve started to research Black History charters, and events to bring to the forefront of my mind and heart. My hope is, to introduce or bring back to your memory about Black-African American women who left their footprint entrenched in American History.
If you remember, last year I discovered Sojourner Truth who, through her speeches and the documentation of her history, I fell in love with her spirit and strength to carry out her plight.
This year as I cruised the pages of western history I found another woman of strength, boldness, softness, and integrity. Her name is Mary Fields. She was also known as Stagecoach Mary or Black Mary. She is a fascinating woman of Western History.
Mary is the first black woman to be awarded a Star Route by the Department of the United States Post Office. Stagecoach Mary drove her route with horses and a mule named Moses. Her route covered the area between Cascade, Montana and Saint Peter’s Mission. The Mission is where Mary was once lived with the nuns.
Mary was the foreman over the construction of the Mission. Needless to say, the men were not always willing to carry out her orders, but that was not a problem for Mary. The men either carried out her orders or left with a headache! She was not a believer in repeating herself too often.
Intrigued and delighted
Intrigued and delighted by this 6-foot, cigar-smoking woman who weighed at least 200 lbs. Can you imagine meeting Mary in person? A woman of her stature, a woman of color. A woman who carried .38 Smith and Wesson under her apron! Oh, My! But Mary was a woman with many qualities and characteristics.
She was Fearless in the face of danger
She Stuck to what she believed
She was Loved by a community of people
She was Trusted by all that knew her
She was Bold in the face of any trial or person
She was Faithfull to the Ursuline Nuns and the Cascade Montana community
She was Trusted by the citizens of Cascade
I’m amazed, not only by her qualities but by the many events in the life of Mary Fields. Events like:
When the hotel owner leased out the hotel with an understanding that Mary would receive free meals in the hotel.
Cascade’s Mayor gave special permission for Mary (the only woman) allowed to drink in the saloons with the men.
Charlie Russel, a cowboy artist, drew a pen and ink picture of Mary Fields which was still hanging in the Cascade Bank during the time of the interview of Gary Cooper in October 1959.
She wasn’t sure of the date of her birth but she celebrated twice a year and the schools would close in honor of her birthday.
She carried a .38 Smith and Wesson and could hit her target at 50 paces.
She could knock out a man with one blow. What a woman!
Another side to Mary Fields
Even with all the roughness written about Mary Fields, her soft side is peppered throughout the history. Mary had a soft side, a kind side, a gentle side, and a loving side. Though complex I think you will you fall in love with Mary Fields.
After she retired from delivering the mail she babysits many Cascade children for $1.50. In return, she would reinvest in the children by buying things for them.
Mary owned and operated a laundry service in her home. And when her home burned down the town’s people built her another home.
Mary had a green thumb. She grew flowers in her backyard. She kept flowers at the Wadsworth Hall of the Catholic Society, but she didn’t live long enough to see the church completed.
Mary was the mascot for the Cascade baseball team. When a player, from either team, made a home run she gave the player a large bouquet of flowers from her garden.
In spite of how Mary Fields is portrayed, we have to remember the times in which she lived. Times of settling new territory. Times thought only to belong to men of the west. The West was hard times in for the women. Yet I found Mary Fields to be a woman of great character and spoken about in love. I can only pray some of these characteristics are found and spoken about me. Mary Fields is a woman I admire and respect. Hopefully, I can stand as tall as Mary Fields in character though I’m only 5-foot 4-inches tall. How about you?
How tall do you want to stand?
How would you like to be portrayed in history?
What footprints are you leaving for those who will follow?
Do you see qualities in Mary that you would like to claim as your own?
Think about it!
The above information about Mary Fields is based on the below list of websites.
Per Kathy Weiser-Alexander, August 2017. Fields stands out as a woman who was far ahead of her times during those adventurous days of the Old West. Legends of America
Back Main Street Share Black History Backmainstreet Share History
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia -Mary Fields Wikipedia the free encyclopedia Mary Fields
Interview with Gary Cooper by Marc Crawford for EBONY Magzine Cooper, Gary & Crawford, Marc (October 1959). “Stagecoach Mary”. EBONY
A documentary reenactment of the life of Stagecoach Mary AAHIAH Episode #13: “THE STORY OF STAGECOACH MARY
Stagecoach Mary -the rifle-toting former slave had many admirers. Written by Chris Enss January 22, 2016
The True West Magazine
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