Second-generation slave Mary Fields was 53 years old, emancipated and literate, when she arrived in Montana in 1885. She had come to the aid of a dear friend, Mother Mary Amadeus, who was charged with running a school for Indian girls.
Certain that the Ursuline nuns and their students would not last the winter without her help, she settled in and proceeded to build, repair, provide for, and nourish the group with resourcefulness and kindness.
Miantae McConnell’s historical narrative combines factual material with creative writing to tell the story of Field’s colorful life in, and near, Cascade from 1885 to 1914.
Throughout her life in Montana, Fields wore many hats: freight-wagon driver, café owner and laundry proprietress. But it was her years as a Star Route Mail Carrier that brought her the most recognition and the nickname of “Stagecoach Mary.” It was a dangerous and difficult job for a man, let alone a woman of middle age.
Fields proved herself brave and extremely resourceful. Over the years, she endured prejudice, insults and even physical assault without ever giving up. Thankfully, she had many loyal friends, both men and women, who stood by her and treated her as an equal.
A staunch patriot, Fields was determined to register to vote in a state election. Local politicians tried to thwart her efforts, but in the end, she triumphed, casting her vote in a 1912 election in Cascade County.
Woven into the story of Field’s life, the author examines women’s rights, corrupt politics, the scandal concerning the Montana State Woman Suffrage Bill, and Montana’s maturing from territory to statehood.
McConnell is an award-winning author and a descendant of early Montana homesteaders. She resides in Montana, near the Rocky Mountains.
– Judy Shafter