Lessons in Black History – Mary “Stagecoach Mary” Fields

Mary “Stagecoach Mary” Fields – Born a slave in Tennessee (most likely 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 about 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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