You can't make this stuff up–Mary Fields–A Great American Character

Trouble in Texas and Me


We create characters for our books and we try so hard to make them fresh. Make them fun and interesting. Make them jump off the page. Sometimes we maybe go too far, make them too outrageous. Or maybe we hold back. Maybe we feel like, because we write fiction, our stories have to make sense.

And then we read about someone who really lived and realize the west was full of real characters. I think the west was for the strong. If you were tough enough you could be anything you wanted to be. And a case in point is the woman I want talk about today.

Mary Field
Mary Fields

Mary Fields

A friend, Cathy Richmond, is always on the lookout for fun stuff she knows I”d be interested in and for some reason that seems to mainly amount to her sending me links to odd occurances concerning GOATS.

But this time she sent me a link to information about Mary Fields. Also known as Black Mary, Stagecoach Mary and she was called White Crow by Native Americans because they said she acted like a white woman even with her black skin.

This woman is truly an almost unbelievable character and if she wasn”t REAL, if an author made her up for a book, people would scoff. But Mary Fields really lived.

Born a slave in Tennessee in 1832 she was raised with her master”s daughter, Dolly, and learned to read. She was freed in 1865. Her lifelong friend Dolly had become a nun and asked Mary to join her at the convent. Mary worked with the nuns and considered casino online them her family but she never became one of them, that might be because Mary liked to drink whiskey and roll her own cigars. She was a crack shot and she also had excellent survival skills learned during the hardest days of the Civil War. She could grow a garden, hunt for food and she knew herbal medicine.

Dolly was given a new job as Mother Superior in Montana. Mary remained behind, not wanting any part of the wild west but later, when Dolly became ill, Mary headed for Montana to care for her friend. In 1885, at age 53, Mary became a woman of the west and found the perfect life for herself.

Many considered her a great addition to the convent but her rough manners also drew criticism. There were several complains and after an incident with a male subordinate that “ending in gunplay” she had to leave her beloved Sisters.

Her first job was to open a restaurant but Mary was a poor business woman. Too softhearted for her own good, she would feed anyone who was hungry whether they could pay or not. She went broke within a year.

It turned out that Wells Fargo was hiring. She got the job by hitching up a six horse team faster than any of the younger men who were applying. At the age of 60 Mary Fields became the first black woman and only the second woman to be hired as a stagecoach driver. She was given a treacherous route from Great Falls to Fort Benton, Montana delivering the mail. Mary delivered the mail along that route for nine years until the age of 69. She never missed a day of work.

Mary Field buggyShe became famous for her mule named Moses, the gun she carried, a pet eagle and the buffalo hide dress she”d made herself. She also delivered the mail to a young Gary Cooper who grew up in a home along her route and he wrote an article about Stagecoach Mary for Ebony Magazine in 1955.

Mary retired in 1901 and died in 1914 at age 82. One of the great characters of the west.


Alaska Brides CollectionI just got my authors copies of Alaska Brides Collection. I have one book in this five book collection. It”s Golden Days, a formerly released book, my very first contracted book so it is very dear to my heart.

My publisher has gathered five romances set in Alaska into one book and made such a beautiful edition of it. This picture doesn”t do it justice. Foil lettering on the cover, deckled edges on the pages, that means kind of lacy, very pretty, and folded over covers on the front and back. A really lovely gift book. And today I”m having the first ever give-away. Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing…or

Click to buy Alaska Brides Collection HERE

Website | + posts

Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

85 thoughts on “You can't make this stuff up–Mary Fields–A Great American Character”

  1. Mary, what an interesting character to run across in our history. I always say, “Everyone has a story.” This lady just proves my point. Thank you for sharing……..great post!

    melback at cebridge dot net

  2. Thanks for the post!! I love learning about women who were strong and could take care of them selves. Back then it was easy to think women were week and couldn’t last on their own. You post proved that wrong! There’s nothing wrong with having a good, solid, strong, loving man at your side but I thinks it’s still important to remember women were created strong not helpless! Thanks for the encouraging post!!!

  3. Mary I love this. I wish I could save all of these articles that I’ve read on this site. I have learned so much but memory isn’t as good as it used to be, so need to go back and refresh my memory. I still say you authors could make books with the many you have here and even have a series of stories. I know people would buy them. I sure would love to win this book. Thanks for the give-away.
    Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

  4. Wow, that Mary was one independent and strong woman. I’d be scared spitless to drive a stage all by myself in the wild west. Guess I’m not adventurous enough. 🙂

  5. Mary sounds like atruly remarkable woman. I admire her courage, compassion and drive.

    I’d love to read this Christmas anthology featuring your fist published story, GOLDEN DAYS! I love the rugged Alaska setting too.

    Thanks for the chance to win this Alaskan Brides Collection!

    johns lake at usa dot com

  6. I feel like such a wimp compared to Mary. The part where an incident with a male subordinate “ended in gunplay” just cracked me up–even though I shouldn’t be laughing about that. garfsgirl[at]hotmail[dot]com

  7. Loved learning about Stagecoach Mary! What a fiesty western woman she must have been. My favorite part of the entire story was how she hitched up a team at age 60 faster than the younger bucks applying for the job. Awesome!

    Thanks so much for sharing, Mary.

  8. Mary, Thank you so much for bringing the reality of Mary Field to life for us with your post. She truly was a remarkable woman. It brings my modern day life to shame thinking I have it so bad some days!
    I cant imagine the fortitude it took just to get through a day let alone a life in those days.
    Any more out there like her? would love to hear of them.
    I love the characters in your books! The cover for your book sounds lovely no wonder you are proud of it .it will be a treasured keepsake for a reader. Thanks & Blessings

  9. One of Louis L’Amour’s constant themes was the west stripped away all the fancy trimming in a person’s character and reveals the truth. A strong man could be a strong as he wanted, take whatever he was strong enough to take and hold on to whatever he was strong enough to hold on to.
    And that went for good or evil. Big characters grew huge. Small men shrank away to nothing.

  10. One of my favorite quotes. Kit Carson reputedly said, “The cowards never started and the weak died on the way. Only the strong arrived. They were the pioneers.”

    Mary Field is a perfect example of that.

  11. I love reading about real people like Mary Field. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong time period! I would loved to of met her! jumpforjoy at gmail dot com

  12. What an amazing woman! Thanks for sharing. I’m looking forward to picking up the anthology even though I’ve read your story already- I love when there are deckled edges!

  13. What a great article. Mary and Dolly were truly opposite ends of the spectrum but it sounds like they had an incredible friendship. I would love to have met them.
    Thanks for sharing that Mary.

  14. Mary Fields was an interesting character, indeed. I found it especially fascinating that she delivered mail along her treacherous route for nine years and never missed a day of work! I can only imagine what she may have encountered during this time! Thank you for sharing this great woman of the west.

    The Alaskan Brides Collection is a gorgeous book! Congratulations!! I look forward to reading this special book and would love to win a copy! Thank you for the opportunity.

  15. What a woman! She would probably be that character in a book who was very interesting, but the reader might say, “I thought she was great and strong…but what are the odds that there ever could have been someone like that? Not likely!” But there really was! How great!

    Thanks for the chance to win your newest release.

  16. Wow! She sounds like she was an amazing lady! One of those people that make you wish you lived 100 years ago just so you could meet them! 🙂
    Thanks for the opportunity to win this book! I’ve loved all of your books (though Fired Up may be my all time favorite)!

  17. Brittany, I think the west was FULL of men and women like that. When I have people say things like, “Women still all wore pants, and women all still rode side saddle.”
    Well, you know, maybe a lot of them did, but I think a lot of people in the west went their own way.
    And I like to believe that. 🙂

  18. And, Sarah, here she is, tough as can be, the gun, the mule, smoking, drinking, and yet she sounds like a sweet heart. She goes broke because she can’t demand people pay for their meals. She spends so much of her life devoted to the daughter of her former slave owner? She works and lives with nuns most of her life?

    What a complex fascinating woman.

    And where’d she learn to hitch up a team like that? You know we only know a fraction of her story!

  19. What a wonderful real life story…and this lady overcame great odds to succeed in life. She didn’t allow her color or her gender to interfere. An interesting combination of toughness and tenderness. Thanks for sharing this historical narrative and for the opportunity to win your book “Alaska Brides Collection” I have quite a few books by several of these authors.

  20. Interesting article and woman. Ladies of the past really were strong in deed and character.
    The book sounds really nice and if I win, I would keep it. I love beautiful books and have several in my collection.

  21. Wow! What a fascinating lady! I have a feeling if you became her friend it was for life. She loved very deeply. But it probably didn’t bode well to become an enemy. Thanks for sharing this! The West was littered with so many colorful interesting people.

    Huge Congrats on the new release!! That cover is simply breathtaking. Wishing you much success!

  22. I love reading and learning about women that was strong and could care for them selves, this is one type of books i like to read, i would love to win thank you
    Shirley B

  23. Met a Shotgun Mary one time. Only that was in the mountains around Death Valley. She was rugged, too. You had to be to ‘go West’. If you weren’t, you died. That’s why us ladies of early California were Not bustle wearers or one million underskirts wearers. I guess that’s why we are different, even now. No, not weird, just think different. Loved Mary’s story. I bet she is one of many, many women with great stories.
    Please put my name in the ole’ Stetson for your drawing.

  24. Wow what an intriguing Mary was. I love Stein courageous women. When you read about ladies like Mary you ask yourself, look at how hard her life must have been, why am I complaining? Thank you for the opportunity to win.

  25. I would have liked to have Mary as a friend. She sounds true blue if she likes you! We would have a laugh together and me holding on tight to the wagon as she delivered the mail down the narrow cliffs! Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

  26. All I can say is that everyone should have visiting Alaska on their bucket list!!! And to plan to spend some real time there, not just hitting the cruise ship stuff.

  27. Oh, that is one of the most amazing stories! And I’ve always loved any characters based on fact. This book sounds like a thrilling ride with wonderful characters. And I don’t think I’ve read any stories set in Alaska and since I love variety this sounds like something I would enjoy. Lovely cover too!


  28. What an amazing woman Mary was. I love learning about people or things that actually happened in history. Thanks for sharing!

  29. I believe there are many situations in life where we either become strong or just go along with whatever we are expected to do. Mary did the best with what she was given.

  30. Hi Mary
    I love hearing about characters like Mary Fields. Sometimes life is stranger than fiction. Thanks for sharing about this wonderful, colorful character of a woman. She deserves a book or something.

    Please put me in the draw for that very pretty Alaska Brides book. I do have a copy of your story (which I LOVE), but it’d be fun to read the other authors as well.

  31. I truly enjoy coming to this blog… you ladies always have such interesting things to share with us… little history lessons, interesting people that lived years ago…

  32. Thank you for sharing the story of Mary Fields. How interesting! Are you using her as a model for a character in one of your books, or have you already?
    I would love to win a copy of Alaska Brides Collection.

  33. Loved Mary’s story! So excited about your publisher’s latest collaboration! It’s a very beautiful book! Thanks for giving us a chance to win a copy!!

  34. Great post Mary, I really enjoyed it. The book sounds like a wonderful read and I would love to read it. Thanks for the great giveaway!

  35. I love hearing about stories like Mary Fields. That’s probably why I like reading historical fiction. I recently found “WI in the Civil War” a non-fiction book, at the library. Very interesting, took me 2 months to read it, but had a lot of neat facts.
    I can’t wait to read this book! Four of the best authors in one book! Yay!

  36. What a lovely book. Alaska is a place with many wonderful possibilities for good stories. With this group of authors, it is sure to be a wonderful read. I love anthologies, so this will be a definite book for me to look for. I hope it does very well for you all.

    Thank you for a great post today. She was quite an interesting and capable woman. Do you know where in Tennessee she and Dolly were from? It is too bad that stories such as this are buried and not many many people know about them. Like you said, if an author made this up, people would find it a bit over the top. It is a case of “truth is stranger than fiction” and aren’t we glad there are people like this in the world.

  37. Have thoroughly enjoyed every one of your books. Many brought tears of laughter……….thank you for the chance to win a copy of this book. (I know my chances are slim to zilch, as I have never won anything before.) Thanks anyway. I will keep reading as long as you keep writing.

  38. ACK!!! CONNIE!!! They aren’t Christmas stories. It’s a Christmas release, December 1st. I’m sorry about that. Not specifically Christmas.

    Good heavens. I didn’t mean it to sound that way. Yikes.

  39. I love reading about strong women. I guess because I am nonsuch a strong person myself. i love to read about Alaska and the old west. I would like to think I could have thrived and survived back than. Hmmm. Guess I will never know. These days my travels and adventures are strictly through books.

  40. Thank you for introducing us to Mary Fields. She certainly led an interesting life. How fun to know she delivered mail to a young Gary Cooper, though I’m wondering how this was done if she retired in 1901 and he was born in 1901. Perhaps she lived near enough to his family that he just remembered her after she retired, since she lived till 1914. Since I’ve watched a lot of old Gary Cooper movies, I had to Google him to find out when he was born, because I didn’t think he was old enough to be alive in the late 1800’s.
    The Alaska Brides book looks great, with stories from several wonderful authors. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

  41. All great authors so the stories have to be great. I’ve never been to Alaska but my brother was stationed up there when he was in the Coast Guard and loved it. When he came home on leave two girls from our town where we lived at the time, Atkinson, NE, moved up there for a couple of years and worked as ‘beauticians’ as they were called back then. They made good money! I would love to take an Alaskan Cruise sometime.


  42. Mary, I love your blogs! They are so interesting! I can’t wait for your book! Alaska is one state I love learning about. Every book I’ve read about it seems so interesting. My husband has “threatened” to move us there on occasion! I love snow but not that much! We lived in Montana for 4 years and that was as much snow as I could handle! I would love to win your book!

  43. What is it about women named Mary? 🙂

    She couldn’t have a pet dog or cat or goldfish … she had a pet eagle. She couldn’t have a cotton or wool dress … she made one from buffalo hide. But you know what really stopped me in my tracks … that Gary Cooper knew her. Strange to think he could have known someone who had been born before the Civil War.

    Thanks for another interesting story!

    Nancy C

  44. Nancy, I wonder if Gary Cooper knowing her helped to make her famous. He wrote about her. Maybe him knowing her in his childhood helped preserve her memory.
    If so, good for him…and good for Mary for being so memorable.

  45. What an interesting, adventurous life she lived! I wish we knew more! I am sure there is a writer who could have fun filling in the blanks of her story by basing a character off her. Thanks for sharing her story with us. And I love books set in Alaska.

  46. This collection sounds great…I can’t wait to read it. I have always wanted to visit Alaska. Thank-you for the opportunity to win this.

  47. I love these kind of stories that are intertwined together but separate and all written by wonderful authors.

  48. Wow! What a remarkable and strong woman! She might have been tough on the outside but soft hearted on the inside. I can’t imagine a woman delivering the mail alone back then. I would love to read the rest of her life story! Please enter me in the drawing for your book.

  49. Loved learning about Mary. I bet she didn’t let a little thing like HUGE spiders get her. Loved the cover. Love your books. Would like to win the book.

  50. I could use a book with characters that jump off the page! The collection sounds wonderful and I would absolutely love to read about these unique characters.

  51. So interesting to read about Mary’s story. Truth is stranger than fiction! 😉 Please enter me for a copy of your new book. Thanks!

  52. This was a wonderful, interesting post! If you wrote a book about her, most people would believe it was not real but fiction. There were some great women in our history and she was one of the women. Thank you for sharing this history with us. I love history and enjoyed this marvelous history. Thank you for the chance to win this giveaway and please enter my name.

Comments are closed.