Also known as Mary Fields, Stagecoach Mary was one of the toughest ladies of the Old West. Born as a slave on a Tennessee plantation in 1832, she gained her freedom after the Civil War and the resulting abolition of slavery. After the Civil War Mary made her way West where she eventually settled in Cascade County, Montana.
In Montana, Mary would gain a reputation as one of the toughest characters in the territory. Unlike most women of the Victorian era, Mary had a penchant for whiskey, cheap cigars, and brawling. It was not uncommon for men to harass her because of her race or her gender. Those who earned her disfavor did so at their own risk, as the six foot tall, two hundred pound woman served up a mean knuckle sandwich. According to her obituary in Great Falls Examiner, “she broke more noses than any other woman in Central Montana”.
In Montana, Mary made a living doing heavy labor for a Roman Catholic convent. She did work such as carpentry, chopping wood and stone work. However, it was her job of transporting supplies to the convent by wagon that would earn her the name “Stagecoach Mary”. The job was certainly dangerous as she braved fierce weather, bandits, robbers and wild animals. In one instance her wagon was attacked by wolves, causing the horses to panic and overturn the wagon. Throughout the night Stagecoach Mary fought off several wolf attacks with a rifle, a ten gauge shotgun, and a pair of revolvers.
Mary’s job with the convent ended when another hired hand complained it was not fair that she made more money than him to the townspeople and the local bishop. When the bishop dismissed his claims, he went to a local saloon, saying that it was not fair that he should have to work with a black woman (he said something much more obscene). In response, Mary shot him in the bum. The bishop fired Mary, and she was out of a job.
After a failed attempt at running a restaurant, Stagecoach Mary was hired to run freight for the US Postal Service. Today she holds the distinction of being the first African American postal employee. Despite delivering parcels to some of the most remote and rugged areas of Montana, Mary gained a reputation for always delivering on time regardless of the weather or terrain.
At the age of seventy, Stagecoach Mary retired from the parcel business and opened a laundry. In one incident when a customer refused to pay, the 72-year-old woman knocked out one of his teeth. For the remainder of her life, Mary settled down to peace and quiet, drinking whiskey and smoking cheap cigars. She passed away in 1914 at the age of 82.
A look back at an adorable house tour featuring vintage photos of Lucille Ball and husband Desi Arnaz, circa mid-1950s. The couple was captured at home doing all the normal couple things: frolicking by the pool, playing cards, looking at each other through newspapers. Why don’t we play cards anymore?
(Source: The Huffington Post)
A young Kenyan woman holds her pet deer in Mombasa, Africa; March, 1909.
Photograph by Underwood and Underwood
Juxtaposed JFK Assassination Photos with Contemporary Dallas
Today, November 22, 1963, is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas. Photographer Doug McCluer has created a striking series of photographs in which he recreates scenes from the assassination in contemporary Dallas.
McCluer has taken original snapshots from the JFK assassination and juxtaposed them with in their original locations. In the first photo, McCluer holds up a black and white image of Jacqueline Kennedy climbing up on the presidential limo after her husband was shot in Dallas on November 22, 1963 — exactly 50 years ago today.
The comparison between the events of that tragic day with the quiet Dallas street scenes fifty years later creates striking images that are both poignant and heartbreaking. It is considered one of the most important events in the United States as it changed the course of history forever.
(Source: New York Daily News)
Amazing Vintage Photos of a Traveling Circus
Appearing in the October 1931 issue of National Geographic, “The Land of Sawdust and Spangles—A World in Miniature” explores the whimsical world of the traveling circus. The circus, Francis Beverly Kelley writes, is “a complete world in miniature, exhibiting its geographical wonders within the confines of a vacant lot, loading itself upon its own railroad caravan, and building a new home in a new town every day.” Chronicling this “nomadic melting pot,” Kelley gives readers a vivid look into the life of circus performers, both human and animal. Click on each picture to read its descriptions. (via National Geographic)
10 Must See Photos from the 1950s
- Marijuana plant in Van Nuys, California jail. Officer F.G. Plamonden gapes at blooming plant of marijuana. Officers wonder what goes on with the plant. Cops later found out that it was sent to Valley Division to be in a lecture on narcotics, 1951
- Kicking it with the cool kids - photographer Jean Depara’s photos of life in Kinshasa, Africa in the early 1950s
- Pablo Picasso has fun playing Popeye, 1957
- Marilyn Monroe kicks a ball at Ebbets Field, New York, 1957
- Miss New Zealand collapses during the Miss Universe pageant, 1954
- Kisses and shiny new dimes given out to anyone who appeared “optimistic” in downtown Santa Monica during the Optimist Week celebration, 1951
- A woman demonstrates shoes equipped with spurs and other sharp metal objects for fighting off men and their unwanted advances, 1956
- Men in full make-up dining enjoying a meal together, 1950s
- A rare look into Lucy and Dezi’s home in the 1950s
- Taking a train ride on the real Orient Express as passengers eat in the dining car, 1950s