Mary Fields was a woman to be reckoned with.
Mary Fields was a woman to be reckoned with. She weighed over 200 pounds and could swear and fight like a man. She didn’t back down from anyone and settled her arguments with her fist or a six gun. She was born in the early 1830’s in Hickman county, Tennessee. Some say Fields was an escaped slave who came to Toledo, Ohio with nothing but the clothes on her back. Others say she was the property of a Miss Dunne, and followed her when Miss Dunne came to Toledo to enter a convent. Miss Dunne later became the Mother Superior of the convent and Fields was the jack of all trades. She worked like a man doing all the worst jobs that were too menial and hard for the nuns.
In the 1980’s Mother Amadeus was sent out west along with other nuns. Mary Field was invited to go with them but refused. Months later when word reached her that Mother Amadeus was dying with pneumonia, Fields went west to care for her. It’s anybodies guess how a lone woman made a trip of two thousand miles alone in such harsh conditions The Native Americans called the place she arrived at “the land of shining mountains.” It was Montana Territory in 1885. A place of dry hot summers, sub zero winters and great plains and mountains.
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For many years it had been the home of Native Americans, the Blackfoot, Shoshone,Arapaho, Sioux, Cheyenne, and the Flathead. Almost all of the Indians had been herded onto reservations and now it was a land of mountain men, descendants of French, English, and Scottish adventures who trapped animals and traded their fur. African Americans were there too, in small numbers. It was a place where Mary Fields felt right at home. After nursing Mother Amadeus back to health Mary Fields stayed and worked with the nuns.
She did everything that called for back breaking work. She drove the wagon and brought supplies from town. She farmed and completed buildings. The nuns tried to teach her to be gentle and mild but Fields was not manageable. She wore men’s clothing which was reasonable since she worked like a man. Her man’s clothing with an overcoat saved her life on many occasions when she was out braving the bitter cold. There were wolves to fight off also with her firearm. Once in quarrel with one of the mission’s hired hands a duel erupted and sent the man fleeing for his life.