EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was originally published by the Ohio History Connection. Ashland Source has entered into a collaborative agreement with the Ohio History Connection to share content across our sites.
Mary Fields, AKA “Stagecoach Mary,” was the first Black woman to carry mail for the United States Postal Service.
Fields was born enslaved in Tennessee in 1832. After emancipation, Fields worked on Mississippi River steamboats.
She later made her way to Toledo, where she worked for the Ursuline convent. At this convent she maintained the grounds, managed the kitchen, grew a garden and hauled freight.
Fields was known for her rough and tumble personality, tremendous strength and fierce attitude -- she reportedly kept a .38 Smith and Wesson revolver tucked into her apron and was willing to get into a fistfight to settle a dispute.
She enjoyed drinking whiskey and smoking cigars, and was the only woman allowed in her local saloon.
Fields served as a mail carrier in Cascade, Montana where she was unfazed by harsh terrain, blizzards or wolves, and she always delivered mail on time.
Her success as a mail carrier in that region helped advance development in central Montana.
Mary Fields broke barriers for women and people of color, and she’s remembered as an icon of America’s Wild West.