I love history, so for those of you who love the Wild West let me introduce you to Mary Fields. She was tall, almost six foot, and tough as any man. Sometime after she was emancipated she headed west. She ended up at a Mission school in Montana were an old friend was a nun. Capable of fixing just about anything, she stayed to help with repairs and soon became the boss, a major achievement for a woman, much less a black woman in those days. But after an altercation, involving a gun fight, with a man who wouldn’t accept working under a woman, Mary was fired. Forced to start over at the age of sixty, she applied for a job with the postal service. Soon, she became well know by the nickname ‘Stagecoach Mary’. Even when her stagecoach got bogged down in a snowdrift, she bailed off and trudged through the snow to deliver the mail. Now that’s a woman dedicated to her job. She loved cigars and engaged in, and won many fist fights. For ten years she delivered the mail. She enjoyed her retirement by spending time in the local saloons and her garden. Quite a lady.
And that is why I love the west. Many women had more freedom and opportunism than their counterparts back East in the large cities where traditions and society dictated lifestyles. In fact, Wyoming was the first state to approve a constitution that included a provision granting women the right to vote. Utah and Washington soon followed. By the early 1900’s the contrast between East and West was striking. All state west of the Rockies had women’s suffrage and no state except Kansas on the east side did. We often hear the phrase ‘Go West Young Man’, but many women went west also and found adventure, trails, and freedom from traditional constraints.
On that note, please leave a comment on others you would like to learn about and I’ll add them to my list.