Who Was Stagecoach Mary? A Fierce Montanan Who Feared No Man
Montana has a rich history of legendary figures. Some more infamous than famous, but one of the most interesting people who called Montana home, was Stagecoach Mary
Stagecoach Mary was born Mary Fields around 1832. Mary was born into slavery, and like many slaves, her exact birthdate isn't known. What is known, however, is that she would become a Montana Legend.
Mary stood 6 feet tall and weighed in at 200 pounds. She was good with a gun and according to historians, she could take on two men in a fist fight and come out on top. Mary was not only a Western Legend, but she was also a pioneer.
So how did a woman born a slave end up in Montana?
It's believed that after the Civil War, Mary ended up in Ohio living in all place, a convent. While no one is exactly sure how she ended up at the convent, we do know that she worked as a groundskeeper there and would sometimes swear...a lot, which resulted in some of the nuns putting in formal complaints about her actions and her bad temper.
It appears that Mary made at least one friend while at the convent in Ohio, the Mother Superior Amadeus Dunne took a liking to Mary. However, it wouldn't be long before Dunne would be called to continue the work here in Montana. She would go on to establish Ursuline Convent, near Cascade in 1884.
Mary would follow once she heard that Dunne had fallen ill the next year and would help her regain her health, here in Montana.
After some time, word got back to the Bishop about Mary's behavior and all of the swearing, drinking, and fighting. Mary was banned from the convent after she pulled a gun on the janitor.
Working odd jobs for the next few years, Mary's big break came in 1895 when she was awarded a Postal Service contract. She would deliver the mail in her Stagecoach while carrying a rifle and a pistol. For almost a decade Mary delivered the mail without fail.
She retired a local legend and would often receive free meals and drinks as people would gather around to hear her stories, and what stories she had. Not only was Mary the first African American female mail carrier, she was also only the second female mail carrier in United States history.
Mary died in December of 1914 in Great Falls and had one of the largest funerals in the area. She is buried in Hillside Cemetery.