StageCoach Mary Fields (1832 – 1914)
Mary Fields, also known as Stagecoach Mary, was the first African-American woman employed as a mail carrier in the United States, and just the second American woman to work for the United States Postal Service.
Mary Fields was born enslaved in 1832 in Hickman County, Tennessee.
She was six feet tall and weighed two-hundred pounds of muscle. “Black Mary”, as she was called, was tough, short-tempered, two-fisted, powerful, packed a pair of six-shooters and a ten-gauge shotgun that she would not hesitate to use.
Mary had a driving ambition, and loved to fight, drink whiskey and smoke homemade cigars on a regular basis.
Time and again, however, her rough-and-tumble antics were outshone by a heart of gold.
To escape slavery, Black Mary fled west, eventually making her way to Cascade County Montana as a free woman in 1884. In search of improved sustenance and adventure, she took a job with the Ursuline nuns at St. Peter’s Mission in the city of Cascade.
The nuns’ simple frontier facility was well-funded and the nuns had a thriving business converting “heathen savages”, and other “disgusting customers”, to the true path of salvation.
Mary was hired to do ‘heavy work’ and to haul freight and supplies to keep the nuns’ operation functional and well-fed. She chopped wood, did stone work and rough carpentry, dug certain necessary holes, washed laundry, managed the kitchen, and grew and maintained the garden and grounds and when reserves were low, she did one of her customary supply runs to the train stop, in Great Falls, or the city of Helena. Read Full Story Here
Mary Grocery Shopping
The young boy she had babysat a young boy who grew up to be legendary actor, Gary Cooper, two time Academy Award Winner, he told a story about Mary in 1959 which appeared in Ebony Magazine ...
Mary Fields died in 1914. She was, as Gary Cooper put it, "one of the freest souls ever to draw a breath or a thirty-eight."