Friday, February 25, 2011

Stagecoach Mary

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"Mary Fields was born in 1832, into slavery in Tennessee, where she was friends with the farm owner's daughter. She was taught to read and write while a slave, and stayed on Judge Dunn's farm for some while following emancipation. Her childhood friend, Dolly Dunn, went on to become a Ursiline nun. Dolly Dunn, then known as Sister Amadeus, invited Mary Fields to join her at the Ursuline convent in Toledo, Ohio. Sister Amadeus was soon assigned to become the headmistress at a convent in Montana, where she fell ill with pneumonia. Mary Fields hadn't first traveled out with Sister Amadeus, but now went to help her sick friend recover. After her friend, now Mother Amadeus, was better, Mary decided to stay on and help the nuns repair the building. Unfortunately, Mary was too hot-tempered, and thought to set a bad example for the children (or maybe the men in town were tired of her out-earning them, and maybe she shot a man in self defense), but she was sent away from the mission, with some financial backing from Mother Amadeus. Mary started a cafe, but was a poor cook with a big heart, and the restaurant ran out of money in short order. She was given a mail route that she ran for eight years, where it was her toughness and reliability that earned her the nickname Stagecoach Mary. She also earned her reputation for being tougher than most any man, out-shooting, out-drinking and out-working them all. After her stagecoach days, Mary was in her 70s, so she took it easy and opened a laundry service, though it's said she spent more time at the saloon than at the laundry shop. She also spent time in her garden, where she'd collect flowers to present to the local baseball team. For every game, she would fix buttonhole bouquet for the members of each team and five large bouquets for each of those who made home runs. She also offered her services as a babysitter for $1.50 a day, which she'd then spend on the little ones."

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