Nothing Like a Beautiful Story #2
Mary Fields

We all love a great story. It can be adventuresome, inspiring, hilarious, or a combo of many things.

This is Part Two in a series of sharing the adventures of people who had passion, persevered, grew beyond themselves and inspired others.

This week’s story is about Mary Fields who was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame a few weeks ago, posthumously. I can’t imagine doing what she did, especially during the Montana winters.

I want to share her beautiful story with you as written in the luncheon program. And may you think, “If she can do that, I, too, can persevere.”

And, by the way, I like her dog! He looks like our Jax!

MARY FIELDS’ STORY

Previously known as Stagecoach Mary, Mary Fields has many myths surrounding her. Some say she was a brawler, but in truth, she was a self-sufficient, hardworking, and compassionate woman, as well as an extraordinary horsewoman and marksman.

Born in 1832, Fields spent the first half of her life enslaved in Tennessee. Post-emancipation, she worked in Toledo, Ohio as groundskeeper at the Convent of the Sacred Heart under Mary Amadeus, the convent’s mother superior.

In 1884, Amadeus and five nuns moved west to the Montana Territory to aid at-risk indigenous girls with shelter and education.

In 1885, Amadeus was dying from pneumonia, and Fields, with three nuns, headed west immediately.

The group found two dilapidated cabins that had little heat, food, or provisions. Amadeus was barely alive. The nuns got to work, attending to religious and educational chores, while Fields concentrated on keeping everyone alive.

As Amadeus recovered, Fields decided to stay to help the convent. She hunted and trapped wild game and planted vegetable gardens. She constructed a hennery that grew to over 400 ducks and hens.

She hauled supplies on the dangerous 34-mile trek from the nearest outpost, surviving wolf attacks and wagon crashes. Nine years later, the Catholic bishop of Montana decreed Fields was to leave after he heard accounts of her allegedly being hostile. He was adamant, no matter how much the nuns. tried to convince him otherwise.

At 62 years old, Fields moved to the closest town.

She discovered that the post office was offering four-year contracts to deliver mail along star routes and received the same 34-mile roundtrip route she had made when at the convent.

For eight years, Fields weathered that journey six days a week. Sometimes, she made the trip on snowshoe, carrying the mail on her back.

She is recognized as the first African American woman to work a star route in the United States. At 71, Fields retired, working as a laundress and babysitter to make ends meet. She died from natural causes at 82 years old in 1914.

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Comments

7 Comments on Nothing Like a Beautiful Story #2
Mary Fields

  1. Tassie Corbett on Mon, 27th Nov 2023 2:26 pm
  2. What an interesting story she had. She had to be resilient. I love to hear stories like this to see how women survived the hardships of the old west and still conquered.

  3. Brigitte MacKenzie on Mon, 27th Nov 2023 5:52 pm
  4. Well that’s a pioneer woman and survivor!

  5. Andy Testa on Mon, 27th Nov 2023 6:31 pm
  6. I’m thinking I’ve got it pretty easy.
    What a life. Hard to imagine all of that.
    And the bishop sending her away and she saved the nuns.

  7. Sylvia Bell-Tull on Mon, 27th Nov 2023 7:20 pm
  8. It’s impossible to fully comprehend Mary Field’s life and the strength and grace of compassion with which she met the enormous challenges of her life. To say I am in awe and deeply inspired would be an understatement. I would like to learn more about her. When the belief, “I can’t” shapes my behavior, as it sometimes does, I hope I’ll remember Mary Fields.

  9. Carol MacGregor on Mon, 27th Nov 2023 8:15 pm
  10. Hi Barb, WOW !!!! What a dedicated, hardworking, overcomer was this woman, Mary Fields. Thank you for sharing her amazing story.

  11. Janice on Tue, 28th Nov 2023 7:07 pm
  12. Such a difficult life. She was strong and didn’t give up. Inspiring.

  13. Mary Kay Russell on Thu, 30th Nov 2023 4:39 pm
  14. Amazing story. So may strong women out there that we never hear about.

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