March is Women’s History Month, and March 15 is the day a woman who definitely made some history celebrated her birthday.
I’m talking about Mary Fields, also known as Stagecoach Mary.
A lot of Mary Fields’ story is based on, and skewed by, other people’s recollections.
Some of them turn her story into legend, others try to diminish or erase her.
We do know, though, that she was enslaved when she was born around 1832.
After the Civil War, Fields worked on steamboats and in households, eventually working at a convent in Ohio.
She followed one of the nuns to Montana, and after working at another convent for about a decade, and then running a restaurant, she ended up getting a contract with the U.S. Postal Service to deliver mail.
She was the first Black woman in that job, and rather than subcontract the work out to others, as was common, Fields did it herself.
In eight years on the route, she never lost a letter and never failed to collect a payment from a customer.
She was known for carrying a rifle and a revolver to fend off potential thieves, bandits or wildlife.
And she never missed a day of work.
If the snow was too deep for her horses and stagecoach, she went out herself in snowshoes.
People said she was as fearless and ferocious as anyone in the Wild West, but she was also beloved, for feeding anyone who came to her hungry, and sending flowers from her garden to any player on the local baseball team who hit a home run.
Maybe that’s why so many people have wanted to share her story.
She’s been played by Esther Rolle and Erykah Badu, and as of 2019, there’s an asteroid up there in space named 7091 Maryfields.
Not too long ago on Reddit, someone asked for stories about taking advantage of being a twin.
A parent wrote in to say one of their identical twins turned to the other while clothes shopping and said, “Try this on. I want to see how it looks on me.”
The Life and Legend of Mary Fields (Montana Women’s History)
Stagecoach Mary Fields (National Postal Museum)
Fields, Mary – aka Stagecoach Mary (Amazing Black History)
I’m not a twin but… (Reddit)
Mary Fields, circa 1895, photo via Wikicommons