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Mary Fields - A Faithful Companion to Mother Amadeus Dunne

Posted 8/29/2019

The story of the Ursuline Mission in the West would indeed be incomplete without the mention of Mary Fields, a lay helper at the Toledo Convent and later in Montana.

A legend in the Old West, Mary it is thought, was born on the Field’s plantation in Tennessee and later acquired by the Warner family of West Virginia. It seems that when Mrs. Warner died, her husband sold all of the slaves except one belonging to his wife, supposedly Mary Fields. Later Mrs. Warner’s daughter Mary entered the Toledo Convent and was known as Sister Annunciation. A contemporary, Sarah Theresa Dunne, Sister Amadeus, joined the community at the same time. These kindred spirits formed a friendship which later became familial, when Josephine Beauharnis Warner married Edmund Dunne. Thus Mary was part of both families.

Six feet tall and weighing 200 pounds, Mary lived at the Convent on Cherry Street during the 1870’s and early 1880’s and among other things took care of the grounds. Mary liked politics of all kinds and election day found her smoking a black cigar and riding around town with any driver who would oblige.

Within a year of her departure from Toledo, Mother Amadeus became extremely ill. Mother Stanislaus left immediately for Montana, taking with her Sister Rose Miller, Mary of the Angels Carroll, and Mary Fields, to care for Sister Amadeus and to assist the other Sisters in their arduous tasks. Many and varied are the stories told of Mary’s escapades.

Of the many stories of Mary, the one that most remember, is her adventures as the first African American woman to carry the mail out West.  Thus she became known as "Stagecoach Mary."

The material quoted here is taken from A Tree in the Valley by Sr. Lelia Mahoney.