Historical Fat and Not-Thin People, Part 4: “Stagecoach” Mary Fields

Mary_Fields“Stagecoach” Mary Fields was not exactly fat: at 6′ tall and ~200 lbs, she had a BMI of about 27, the middle of the overweight range. Probably, based on accounts of her life, a lot of that was muscle. But I couldn’t resist featuring her because of her story. This post by Kristen Majewski is one of the best online biography I’ve found of her; this one at the Toledo Blade is also very good and contains some reflections from the archivist for Toledo’s Ursuline Convent (where Mary Fields worked for part of her life), Sister Kathleen Padden, as well as some of the nuns there before her. According to the Toledo Blade:

Miss Fields arrived by train in 1878. As Mother Amadeus helped her old friend get settled in her new quarters, she asked if there was anything she needed.

According to the book Working for the Ursulines, Miss Fields answered, “Yes, a good cigar and a drink.”

The US Postal Service confirms some of the other information online about Mary Fields, though there is one piece of misinformation that it refutes: Fields was not the second woman to have had a mail route. In fact, there have been female mail carriers since at least 1845, when Mary Fields was still a child of about 12. Which brings me to another interesting thing about “Stagecoach Mary”–she started carrying the mail when she was over 60 years old. Carrying the mail was a very physical job, especially in those days–for example, when the snow got too deep for the horses, Fields would strap on snowshoes and carry the mail herself.

After about 10 years, Fields retired from her mail route and worked mostly as a babysitter. Although she never married or had children herself, Fields loved children, and spent a good deal of her pay from babysitting on buying candy for them. She died December 14, 1914, at about 82 years old.

Earlier in Historical Fat People:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

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2 Responses to Historical Fat and Not-Thin People, Part 4: “Stagecoach” Mary Fields

  1. Thank you for helping dispel the myth that there were no fat people in the “olden” days. Of course there were, duh. But it’s nice to see that acknowledged in pictures. Especially glad to see one of a person of color. I was not familiar with “Stagecoach” Mary Fields and am interested to learn more about her.

    Although fat people in history is not the focus of my blog, once in a while I change things up and post about famous fat people. My favorite two are about Sophie Tucker and Marie Dressler, both famous fat folk from the entertainment industry and both amazing people. I also have a post about fat presidents in history. I have a few more in the “drafts” folder as well for the next time I need a change of pace in my writing.

    But since I spend most of my blogging time and energy on medical issues, pregnancy, and parenting-related issues, I’m always thrilled to see other people documenting that indeed, fat people have existed for a long, long time, and they were interesting and vibrant people. Keep up the good work!

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