Mary Fields

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Mary Fields, ca. 1895.

Mary Fields, also known as Stagecoach Mary, was the first African-American woman employed as a mail carrier in the United States, driving her mail route by stagecoach from Cascade, Montana to St. Peter's Mission, Montana.[citation needed] She was only the second American woman in all to work for the United States Postal Service.[1]

Born a slave circa 1832 in Hickman County, Tennessee (the exact year of her birth is uncertain) she was freed when American slavery was outlawed in 1865.[1][2] For some time she worked repairing the buildings of a school for Native American girls in Montana called Saint Peter's Mission, eventually advancing to forewoman.[1] In 1895, although approximately 60 years old, Fields was hired as a mail carrier since she was the fastest job applicant to hitch a team of six horses.[1] She drove the route with horses and a mule named Moses and never missed a day, earning the nickname "Stagecoach" for her reliability.[1][2] This was despite heavy snowfalls that sometimes made it necessary for her to deliver the mail on foot, once walking 10 miles back to the depot.[1]

When she retired she became friends with the actor Gary Cooper.[2] She was a respected public figure in Cascade, and on her birthday each year the town closed its schools to celebrate.[1] She died of liver failure in 1914 when she was a little bit over the age of 80.[2]

In the 1996 TV movie The Cherokee Kid, Fields was played by Dawnn Lewis.

In the 2012 TV movie Hannah's Law, Fields was played by Kimberly Elise.

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Mary Fields, CascadeMontana.com
  2. ^ a b c d "Historic Women - E-G", LegendsOfAmerica.com