"Black American Heroes in the old west: Mary Fields "Stagecoach Mary"
Black American Heroes in the old west: Stagecoach Mary"
"Black American History in the old West: Stagecoach Mary"
This a true story according to Lillian Schlissel: we apparently had quite a few black American heroes that some us didn't know about.
Mary Fields: Stagecoach Mary"
Mary Fields was born in the 1830's in a slave cabin in Tenneessee, when Andrew Jackson, was president. She was a strapping young black women, six feet tall, who could shoot a rifle and six shooter and handle a team of horses just like a man.
After her family died and the civil war ended, Mary went to Toledo, Ohio. Then in 1884, when she was a women of fifty, she went to Montana; where a friend who was an ursuline nun lived in ST.Peter's mission, eight miles outside the town of Cascade.
The nuns convinced the bishop to let Mary haul supplies from Cascade out to the mission. Mary was glad to have the job. according to one story, when Mary was driving at night, a pack of hungry wolves came so close, they frighten her horses. The wagon turned over on it's side and the horses ran away.
Mary was a cooled- headed women. She built a fire from sage bushes and kept the wolves at bay, first with her rifle and then her six- shooter. A dawn, Mary set the wagon back on it's wheels and reloaded the supplies; and she pulled the wagon in to town herself.
Mary hauled freight for eight years . She was famous through the territory for the cigars she smoked and the jug of whiskey she kept on the wagon next to her. Although, Mary was a favorite of the town, she lost her job hauling supplies for the nuns.
It happened this way: she thought a hired hand had insulted her, and she challenged him to a shootout. He drew first but his shot went wild. Mary took slow and careful aim and fired just close enough to send him running. When the bishop heard about the contest, he was so angry he fired Mary.
It was bad enough for men to go about shooting each other, but he couldn't accept women as gunslingers,too. Mary got a new job driving the town's stagecoach, and that is how she came to be known as "Stagecoach Mary". She enjoyed working in the open air, and she was a good as any man at protecting her passengers and her cargo.
After a time, Mary opened a restaurant, but she gave free meals to so many hungry travelers that her restaurant went broke. Customers thought it was just as well because they suspected she mixed gunshots in her stew. When the restaurant closed, Mary Fields was already in her sixties, but she decided she had better go back to work; and in 1895 she became the second women in history to carry the United states mail.
At seventy, Mary began to think she was to old for riding, and she opened a laundry. When a customer did not pay his laundry bill, Mary knocked him flat with her fist. Then she told him; his billed was settled. She was a local celebrity by that time, and the mayor of Cascade gave her permission to drink in all the all- male saloons. One of her old drinking partners remembered, She could drink more whiskey than anyone I ever knew.
Mary was never a peaceful women, but people had become so fond of her ;that the public schools in CasCade closed on her birthday. Mary died in 1914 and was buried at the Hillside Cementary in Cascade, Montana, where a wooden cross marks her grave. But stories about Mary Fields never seem to die. There is always someone who remember Mary, a fearless black women who loved riding, shooting and living life on the western frontier.
Benny Faye Douglass
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