The Historic Story Of Mary Fields

The Historic Tale Of Mary Fields The First Black Woman To Be Employed As A Mail Carrier In The US

A Formerly Enslaved Woman Who Braved The Wild West To Deliver Mail

Mary Fields, better known by her nicknames “Stagecoach Mary” and “Black Mary,” was born into slavery around 1832 in Hickman County, Tennessee. After emancipation, she headed north, working on riverboats and doing laundry.

She eventually landed in Toledo, Ohio, finding work as a groundskeeper at the Ursuline Convent of the Sacred Heart. There, she befriended the convent’s Mother Superior, Mother Amadeus Dunne.

When Dunne relocated to Montana to do missionary work in 1884, Mary went to help her a year later. She worked at Dunne’s new convent near Cascade, Montana, while also nursing Dunne back to health. However, Mary’s rough manners and tendency to drink and smoke soon antagonized the bishop, who expelled her from the convent.

Blazing A Trail As A Respected, Feared Mail Carrier

Mary settled in Cascade, taking on odd jobs like laundry. In 1894, she was hired by the postal service as a star route carrier, using a stagecoach to deliver mail across treacherous terrain prone to thieves. Mary was the first Black woman to hold this position.

She carried a rifle and revolver and diligently braved brutal weather and rocky trails to ensure mail delivery. Locals called her dedication exemplary. Though bars were then forbidden to women, saloons welcomed Mary as she was widely admired for her kindness and bravery.

A Legendary Figure Who Left An Enduring Legacy

When Mary died in 1914, her funeral was one of the largest the town had seen. Though details of her life remain uncertain, her inspiring legacy persists over a century later.

In 2021, Mary was even depicted in the Netflix film The Harder They Fall, introducing her legendary story to new audiences. As we continue unearthing little-known stories of remarkable pioneering women like Mary Fields, let us not forget how their courage and determination paved the way.