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Date:7/29/2014 1:29:20 PM
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Happy Presidents Day & Happy Black History Month!
STAGECOACH MARY, legend in her own time!
A Black gun-totin' female in the American wild west? Smoked cigars, 6 feet tall, short-tempered, 2-fisted, & packed a pair of 6-shooters & 8 or 10-gauge shotgun! Mary Fields was born a slave in Tennessee during the administration of Andrew Jackson.
A free woman in 1884, made her way 2 Cascade County (Montana), took a job with Ursuline nuns at the St. Peter Mission in Cascade city. Hired 2 do heavy work & haul supplies 2 keep the nuns' operation going. She chopped wood, did stone work, carpentry, dug holes, & her customary supply runs 2 the train stop, Great Falls, or city of Helena.
Woe 2 ruffian men who attempted 2 trample on her rights & hard won privileges. She broke more noses than any person in central Montana claims the Great Falls Examiner, the only newspaper in Cascade then.
After being fired from the nunnery for a gunfight with a co-worker, Mary opened her own restaurant. Nobody would eat her cooking= the restaurant closed.
1895, she landed a job carrying United States Mail. Being independent & determined, this was perfect for her. Mary developed a reputation for delivering letters & parcels no matter what the weather, nor how rugged the terrain. She & her mule, Moses, plunged through anything, from bitterly raw blizzards 2 wilting heat, reaching remote miner's cabins & outposts with important mail which helped accommodate the land claim process & other matters needing communication. Her efforts helped advance development of a considerable portion of central Montana, a contribution for which she is given little credit. Known as Stagecoach Mary (for her ability 2 deliver on a regular schedule), delivered mail until she was into her 60's, but it wore her down. She retired from the mail delivery business, still needing a source of income.
At age 70, she opened a laundry service, in Cascade. She didn't do a lot of laundry, but spent most time in the local saloon, drinking whiskey & smoking foul cigars with the sundry assortment of sweating, dusty men who were attracted 2 the place. 1 lout failed 2 pay his laundry bill to her, he had ordered extra starch in the cuffs & collar. Hearing him in the street, she left the saloon & knocked him flat with one blow - at the age of 72. She told her wobbly drinking companions that the satisfaction she got from that act was worth more than the bill owed, so the score was settled. Luck would have it, the tooth of his that she knocked out was giving him trouble anyway, so there was no reprisal. Actually, he was grateful.
1914 Mary died of liver failure. In spite of her drinking, cigar smoking, & occasional fisticuffs, townsfolk were hard pressed 2 believe that this mellow (!?) old woman of 80 was the hard shooting & short-tempered female character of earlier years they heard so much about. They were wrong. SHE WAS.
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