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Stagecoach Mary

They called her Stagecoach Mary

Mary Fields was born into slavery in Hickman County, Tennessee in year of 1832. Mary’s life started to unfold after her family died and during her days of freedom right after the Civil War (1861-1865).

When she grew into adulthood, Mary Fields was described as a big woman of six feet tall. She was noted as being tough. Mary knew how to ride a horse and shoot a rifle and six-shooter. In her late twenties, Mary Fields worked for Mother Amadeus of the Catholic Ursuline Convent in Toledo, Ohio.

By 1881, Mother Amadeus went to the far Northwest state of Montana to set up a school for women and girls of the Blackfeet Indian Tribe in the town of Cascade, Montana. In 1884, Mary Field joined her friend, Mother Amadeus, at the school in Cascade. Mary Fields’ fearless temperament landed her the job of delivering freight for the school’s nuns.

One day, while on the job, Mary was involved in an insulting dispute with one of the handymen at the school. This situation escalated into a shootout, and Mary Fields was fired from her job. Mary went on to open a restaurant in Cascade, but this was a failure. Again, Mother Amadeus helped Mary to land work as a mail route courier with a route between the Mission School and the town of Cascade.

For eight years, Mary drove her stagecoach on the mail route dressed in a man’s hat and coat. She also smoked a big cigar and everyone knew her as “Stagecoach Mary.”At age 71, in 1903, Mary Fields decided to open up her own laundry business. It is said no one took advantage of Mary Fields. One male customer received his laundry but insulted Mary by not paying his bill.

Mary later recognized that customer in the local saloon she frequently patronized (Note: women did not drink in all-male saloons, but Mary Fields was granted permission by the Mayor of Cascade). Mary went over to this man tapped on his shoulder, and when he turned around she socked him on the jaw. He went down with one punch. She announced to everyone “that his laundry bill was now paid.” The people of Cascade loved Mary Fields. When she died in 1914 at age 82, she became a memorable icon for her life as a true Westerners of the American frontier.



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Emerson R. Terry /
Skype /emersonrterry / Copyright © 1997
Revised: March 30,1998 Revised: 2009
Revised / Revised 2011