Mary Fields - Who was she?
Mary Fields (aka Stagecoach Mary) was born in 1832. She was a slave in Tennessee and was freed when slavery was outlawed in 1865. After, Mary worked in the home of Judge Edmund Dunne and, when his wife passed, took their five children to be with their aunt. When their aunt fell ill, Mary came to be her nurse, staying after her recovery to tend the garden and livestock, and completing other projects - eventually becoming a forewoman.
After an incident one of her subordinates, Mary was ordered to leave the area. The children's aunt helped her open her own restaurant. Mary would serve anyone who needed food, whether or not they could pay.
At age 60, Mary was hired as a mail carrier because she was able to hitch a team of six horses the fastest. She was the second woman and the first African American woman to work for the US Postal Service. She drove her route with her horses and a mule she named Moses. She never missed a day, earning the name "Stagecoach". During the snowy season, Mary would often carry the mail herself.
Mary was well respected in her town and on her birthday, the town (as a whole) would celebrate. Mary died in 1914 of liver failure. Gary Cooper wrote about her, "Born a slave somewhere in Tennessee, Mary lived to become one of the freest souls ever to draw a breath, or a .38."