Mary Fields

1832 – Dec 5, 1914

“Stagecoach Mary”

  • Born a slave in Tennessee
  • 1865 – freed when slavery was outlawed
  • 1870 – Worked on the steamboat Robert E. Lee 
  • 1884 – moved to Montana
  • 1885 – first African American woman to become a U.S. postal service Star Route mail carrier
  • 1885 – 1889 – 1st Star Route
  • 1889 – 1893 – 2nd Star Route
  • 1894 – opened a restaurant in Cascade, MT Fields would serve food to anyone, whether they could pay or not (closed in 10 months)
  • 1895 – at 60+ years old, Fields was hired as a mail carrier
    This made her the second woman &
    first African American woman to work for the U.S. Postal Service
    At 60 yrs old, she was the fastest applicant to hitch a team of six horses
    If the snow was too deep for her horses, Fields delivered the mail in snowshoes
  • hard-drinking, quick-shooting mail carrier sported two guns
    fended off an angry pack of wolves with her rifle
  • 1910 – When the local motel was sold, a stipulation to the transaction was that all meals for Mary Fields would be offered free of charge for the rest of her life
  • 1912 – her laundry business and her home burned down, the townspeople gathered and built her a new home.
  • 1914 – her funeral was one of the largest the town had ever seen
  • 1959 – actor Gary Cooper met Fields when he was a child, and wrote an account of his memories of her in Ebony magazine
  • 2015-2016 – AMC series, “Hell On Wheels”, featured in 5 episodes, Fields is played by Amber Chardae Robinson

“She drinks whiskey, and she swears, and she is a republican, which makes her a low, foul creature.”

schoolgirl’s essay writing about “Stagecoach Mary”

“Born a slave somewhere in Tennessee, Mary lived to become one of the freest souls ever to draw a breath, or a .38.”

Montana native Gary Cooper 
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