LESSONS IN BLACK HISTORY – "Stagecoach" Mary Fields

maryfieldsMARY FIELDS – Born a slave in Tennessee (some time in 1832), Mary Fields, also known as “Stagecoach Mary,” would go on to become one of the most legendary figures in the settling of the Old West. After the Civil War, Fields made her way west, to Cascade County in Montana. She took a job working at a convent, but it ended poorly after she got into gunfight. She then tried running her own restaurant, but that too failed. It wasn’t until Fields took a job delivering the mail and driving a stagecoach in 1895, at the age of 63, that she found her true calling. Short tempered, fond of cigars, and willing to slug it out or shoot it out with any man, she earned a reputation as a dependable and fierce employee of the postal service, and also was rechristened Stagecoach Mary. According to the Great Falls Examiner, the newspaper that served Cascade County, Stagecoach Mary broke more noses in fights than anyone else in Montana. Stagecoach Mary delivered the mail until she was 70 years old. After that, she opened her own laundry, and is said to have beaten a man who stiffed her on a bill. She died in 1914 of liver failure, caused in part by her many years of heavy drinking.

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One Response to “LESSONS IN BLACK HISTORY – "Stagecoach" Mary Fields”

  1. BuffaloSoldier9 Says:

    The real ‘Stagecoach Mary’ story:

    Mary Fields, Black Mary, and ‘Stagecoach Mary’ are all one of the same person. Mary was born in 1832, a slave in Tennessee and was owned by a Catholic family; the father was a businessman and Judge who had a single girl child the same age as Mary. Mary’s mother was the House Slave Servant and the judge’s favorite cook; therefore Mary was always in the main house, in the kitchen and not in the fields, as a Field Slave. Mary’s father was a Field Slave, and Field Slaves were not allowed in the Main House, much less, to court a House Slave. Mary’s mother became pregnant by Mary’s father and he was beaten and sold to another plantation for getting Mary’s mother pregnant. After Mary’s birth, Mary’s mother and her were allowed to stay in the main house, and Mary became the Judge’s daughters’ playmate, therefore being the Judge’s daughter’s playmate, Mary was allowed to read and write, a rarity for that time.

    After the emancipation and coming into adulthood, Mary was 6 feet tall and weighed over 200 pounds. Mary became her own woman and traveled solely from Tennessee, up and down the Mississippi River, to Ohio, then finally to Montana where she got her nickname at the turn of the 20th Century. She earned this nickname by working for “Wells Fargo” delivering the United States Mail through adverse conditions that would have discouraged the most hardened frontiersmen of her time. All by herself, she never missed a day for 8 years, carrying the U. S. Mail and other important documents that helped settle the wild open territory of central west Montana.

    Mary had no fear of man, nor beast, and this sometimes got her into trouble. She delivered the mail regardless of the heat of the day, cold of night, wind, rain, sleet, snow, blizzards, Indians and Outlaws.

    Mary was a cigar smoking, shotgun and pistol toting Negro Woman, who even frequented saloons drinking whiskey with the men, a privilege only given to her, as a woman. However, not even this fact, sealed Mary’s credentials given to her, her credentials boasted that, “She would knockout any man with one punch”, a claim which she proved true.

    Her fame was so acclaimed, even the Actor, Gary Cooper, two time Academy Award Winner, told a story about her in 1959 which appeared in Ebony Magazine that same year. While, Annie Oakley and Martha Canary (Calamity Jane) were creating their history with Buffalo Bill, Stagecoach Mary was making “her Epic Journey!”

    Despite Mary’s hardness, she had another side of her, a kindness so strong, even today, in the beginning of the 21st Century, the town of Cascade, Montana, and other surrounding communities celebrate her birthday. The Epic movie is in pre-production mode.

    Check out website at http://www.stagecoachmary.net

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