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"Black American Heroes in the old west: Mary Fields "Stagecoach Mary"

Updated on October 4, 2009

Black American Heroes in the old west: Stagecoach Mary"

The first black women to carry the United States mail. Mary Stagecoach Fields.
The first black women to carry the United States mail. Mary Stagecoach Fields.

"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 inĀ  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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    • creativeone59 profile imageAUTHOR

      benny Faye Douglass 

      6 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you Yellow Raw, for your visit and comment. I appreciate you. Godspeed. creativeone59

    • profile image

      YELLOW RAW 

      6 years ago

      WOWW, WHATS, GREATT,LOVE MARY, FEILDS

    • creativeone59 profile imageAUTHOR

      benny Faye Douglass 

      6 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      SerenaG, I guess it was good back in the old days that women could settle a score with a gun, but not today, we just have to get to stepping when things aren't right. God bless you. creativeone59

    • profile image

      Serena Gabriel 

      6 years ago

      What an excellent story and you did a great job telling it! There's history and then there's the official history and the two often look nothing like each other.

      I wish we could go back to settling scores like Mary did. There would be more peace in this country and the criminals would be on the run!

      Accolades and voting up!

    • creativeone59 profile imageAUTHOR

      benny Faye Douglass 

      7 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you Drama Queen, for your visit and comment, I appreciate you. I'm glad you enjoyed the story on Stage coach Mary the mail lady. Godspeed. creativeone59

    • profile image

      drama queen 

      7 years ago

      wow, now this is entertainment.i could sit and listen to this for hours.

    • creativeone59 profile imageAUTHOR

      benny Faye Douglass 

      7 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you Powerpoe, for your visit,comment an fanship. I truly appreciate you. God bless you. creativeone59

    • creativeone59 profile imageAUTHOR

      benny Faye Douglass 

      7 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you Buffalo soldier, for helping my story out, I didn't know about Gary cooper the other information, thank you for sharing. Godspeed. creativeone59

    • Powerpoe1 profile image

      Powerpoe1 

      7 years ago

      Nice hub about stagecoach Mary. She loved to help people and was a self-starter. An entrepreneur, an excellent black history fact. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Kevin Schofield 

      8 years ago

      Hi Creativeone, I think I'd rather have Stagecoach Mary as a friend than an enemy - what a redoubtable woman! Incidentally, I think she must have passed on her recipe for gunshot stew to some of my local restaurants. Nasty! Excellent hub! Kindest regards, Kev.

    • profile image

      Buffalo Soldier 9 

      8 years ago

      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

    • creativeone59 profile imageAUTHOR

      benny Faye Douglass 

      8 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      It's was good to see that the women had a hand in the black western days too. Thank you pmccray for your comment and feedback. blessings. creativeone59

    • pmccray profile image

      pmccray 

      8 years ago from Utah

      Stagecoach Mary - gives new meaning to "pioneer wherewithal" my Lord, during the reading I could see her in my mines eye. How blessed we are that we don't have to toil all of our natural born days. It was black pioneers such as Mary that came from sterner stuff to live as long as she did being black and female in such an era. Excellent subject matter and hub creativeone59.

    • creativeone59 profile imageAUTHOR

      benny Faye Douglass 

      8 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you KwameG, thanks for dropping by, and thanks for your comment and feedback. Godspeed. creativeone59

    • KwameG profile image

      KwameG 

      8 years ago from MS

      Great info, will add her to my list of Kwanzaa stories.

    • creativeone59 profile imageAUTHOR

      benny Faye Douglass 

      8 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      You are very welcome dear, thank you for your comment and feedback. Godspeed. Creativeone59

    • MissE profile image

      MissE 

      8 years ago from Texas

      I enjoyed that bit of history! Thanks for sharing. :)

    • creativeone59 profile imageAUTHOR

      benny Faye Douglass 

      9 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you Hello hello and CarrieGoff, for your very important comment and feedback. Godspeed. creativeone59

    • carriegoff profile image

      carriegoff 

      9 years ago from Michigan

      Great story!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      9 years ago from London, UK

      What a great story and what a great woman. Words fail me. I agree with her why should she take all that. Thank so very much for bringing that story onto hub. It was lovely.

    • creativeone59 profile imageAUTHOR

      benny Faye Douglass 

      9 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      You 're very welcome my dear. thanks for your comment and feedback. creativeone59

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      I've heard of "Stagecoach Mary" but never knew the whole history behind it. Thanks for sharing this part of history with us.

    • creativeone59 profile imageAUTHOR

      benny Faye Douglass 

      9 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you very much, you always make my day. have a blessed one. creativeone59

    • maggs224 profile image

      maggs224 

      9 years ago from Sunny Spain

      A fascinating hub about a fascinating woman.

    • creativeone59 profile imageAUTHOR

      benny Faye Douglass 

      9 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      You're very welcome BK, thanks for your comment and feedback. creativeone59

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 

      9 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Wonderful, wonderful! So much history that we never hear. Women were always capable, tough, enterprising. It seems the spirit is being beaten out of us every way we turn. Time to get that independence back. I love it!

      Thanks for this hub!

    • creativeone59 profile imageAUTHOR

      benny Faye Douglass 

      9 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you for your comment and feedback. creativeone59

    • bayareagreatthing profile image

      bayareagreatthing 

      9 years ago from Bay Area California

      What a great story! Thanks for sharing it!

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