Few African-American Women are truly remembered by History for their achievements. One Mary Fields is an example. Born a Slave in 1832 Tennessee, Mary was given Her freedom in 1865 (after The American Civil War). Having 5 children, Mary needed to provide for them. Mary had an Aunt out West who just happened to be a Catholic Nun (Mother Superior in fact) – who ran a concern for Native American children. When She took sick, Mary and Her Family needed out. Mary looked to Her Aunt's food resource (a ''restaurant'' for what of a better term). But Mary believed in feeding anyone who came – regardless if they could pay or not. The Concern of course would go bankrupt. But Mary learned about another business venture – The Star Route.
Star Routes were locations which were near the primary US Mail Routes. These off shoots or Routes are called ''Stars'' because they were so marked on Maps. The idea was that a private Person could ''purchase'' a nearby Route for a Bond and either themselves or ''licensed Contractors'' – could go to Distribution ''Centers'', pick up The Mail and distribute farther inside a Region.
Mary would raise enough Capital to purchase a Star Route, making Her not only the first Woman to do such, but the first African-American one. And Mary ''ran'' Her Route Herself. Running Buckboard and Stage, Mary also provided Her own Security – armed with a Shotgun. She began known locally as ''Stagecoach Mary''. She did this at 60 years of age! From 1888 until 1893, Mary ran one of the most effective Routes in Montana. Although a Contractor, Mary Fields would be seen as the first African-American Postal Carrier in History. ''Retired'' in 1903, Mary would tend to Her Grandchildren until She died in 1914.