Stagecoach Mary

In 1832, she was born a slave in Tennessee, she was freed in 1865 at the age of 33.

When she was freed she worked for Judge Dunne, who some believe had been her owner. When his wife died in 1883, Mary took his children to their aunt’s home in Ohio. The aunt was Mother Mary Amedeus the Mother Superior of a convent. Mary stayed near Mother Mary Amedeus until the Mother Superior was transferred to Montana to start a school for Native American girls. In 1884, Mary heard of Mother Mary falling ill with pneumonia. She traveled to Montana to nurse her back to health.

So far this sounds like a loyal slave caring for former owners. But Mary Fields was no subservient ex-slave. Unlike most slaves, she had been taught to read and write. She stood six feet tall and weighed 200 lbs. To say she was an imposing figure, would be putting it lightly. If the persona didn’t intimidate you, be aware, she carried a pistol under her apron and a shotgun in her hand. She smoked hand-wrapped big black cigars and usually had a whiskey jug someplace close by her.

stagecoach+mary+fields

Mary Fields was not afraid of anyone or anything. And was know to not back down from a fist fight. She stayed at the convent, when the Mother Superior got well, to help out. She hauled freight, chopped wood, did laundry and cared for the chickens and garden. The Native Americans called her White Crow because she acted like a white woman but had black skin.

In 1894, her temper got the better of her when a male worker made derisive comments concerning a black woman getting higher pay than him. Mary grabbed her gun and went after him. They had a shootout behind the convent. A bystander was slightly wounded by a stray bullet which was the only injury after Mary and the male worker had emptied their six guns. The Bishop told Mary she would have to leave, he was tired of her temper and foul language.

The Mother Superior helped her open a restaurant but it went broke in ten months. Mary made a habit of feeding people whether they paid or not.

Then in 1895, at the ripe old age of sixty, Mary found her calling. Having the fastest time hitching up a six horse team, she won the job of US postal carrier. This made her the first black woman postal carrier and the second black woman ever hired by the US postal service. She delivered mail with a team or with her mule, Moses. If the snow was too deep, she’d put the mail on her back and hike the trail in snowshoes. She once walked ten miles through the snow. She never missed a day. Her dependability earned her the name Stagecoach Mary.

When she hit seventy, she quit the postal service. She started doing laundry and ran an eating establishment. At seventy-two, a man tried to stiff her on a laundry bill. She reared back and laid him on the ground with one punch. Mary was still a force to be reckoned with.

I am Mary Fields.  People call me “Black Mary.”  People call me “Stagecoach Mary.”  I live in Cascade, Tennessee.  I am six feet tall.  I weigh over two hundred pounds.  A woman of the 19th Century,  I do bold and exciting things.  I wear pants.  I smoke a big black cigar.  I drink whiskey.  I carry a pistol.  I love adventure.  I travel the country,  driving a stagecoach,  delivering the mail to distant towns.  Strong, I fight through rainstorms.  Tough, I fight through snowstorms.  I risk hurricanes and tornadoes.  I am independent.  No body tells me what to do.  No body tells me where to go.  When I’m not delivering mail,  I like to build buildings.  I like to smoke and drink in bars with the men.  I like to be rough.  I like to be rowdy.  I also like to be loving.  I like to be caring.  I like to baby sit. I like to plant flowers and tend my garden. I like to give away corsages and bouquets. I like being me, Mary Fields.

Mary Fields

Advertisements

Oldest Bridge in Connecticut

I’d like to share another fascinating bridge in Connecticut. It’s called the Mill Brook Bridge. It actually was on the edge of our neighbor’s yard. Our neighbor’s daughter and I used to play under this bridge when the water flow was low in the summer. Sometimes we would sit in the four foot high cavity and let the water flow over our legs.

mill brook bridge 2

This is a stone arch bridge that was built with no mortar, just the stone. It’s ten feet in length and 18 feet in width. As fascinating as that is, it’s not the most important aspect of this bridge.

This bridge, that I innocently played under, was the oldest bridge in Connecticut and one of the oldest in the entire country. It was built in 1790. That was when George Washington was president! Did George ever cross it? There’s a good chance he might have walked across it and over the property where I lived.

A couple of things point to this possibility. First, that was the main route in the area and second is the secret no one in the area cares to talk about. You see, I grew up in a small rural town called Lisbon, CT. About five miles away is the city of Norwich. Now the shameful secret of Norwich (which the town people are reluctant to tell) is that Norwich is the birthplace of Benedict Arnold. And no, there is no monument to him in Norwich, which is actually against the law seeing as he was declared a traitor.

But I like to think George and Benedict may have traveled over my bridge on their many journeys.

mill brook bridge

Unfortunately the bridge was destroyed by a flood in March 2010.

Frog Fight Of 1754

I grew up in Connecticut and visiting my sister in Mansfield, we had to cross the Frog Bridge of Willimantic. Now, you may think having 11 foot bronze frogs on the four corners of the bridge ridiculous but to the people of Willimantic it’s a badge of honor.

frog-bridge-willimantic-ct

In 1754, having done battle with the French and the Indians, the militia were on the alert. One night in June, they were awaken by a cacophony of noise. Some were sure it was the French, others just as sure it was Indians. The noise was so terrifying some were convinced it was the Day of Judgment and fell to their knees.

Many brave militia men grabbed their muskets and ran to the battle. Though they searched and even fired rounds toward the noise, they did not come in contact with the enemy.

In the morning an investigation began. It was soon discovered that the horrendous noise had not come from the French, Indians or even God. The town people had been in a drought for some time and most ponds had dried up. There was one pond left in the area and masses of frogs had converged and fought a huge battle over territory. Hundreds of frogs lay dead and dying at the pond.

News spread of the silly Willimantic residents being terrified by a bunch of frogs. They were shamed for a couple of decades. Then someone pointed out that they could have been being attacked and they had been armed and ready. The frog fight lost it’s shame and became a symbol of honor.

So, in Connecticut, we look at the Frog Bridge with pride for the New England spirit of readiness it symbolizes. And we secretly smile because nothing is better to a New Englander than a good joke on ourselves.

frog bridge

ps The frogs sit on thimbles of thread because Willimantic was a thread mill center at one time.

Hugh Glass – Left For Dead

hugh glassIn 1823, Hugh Glass, in his forties, left with a nine person trapper expedition party, up the Missouri River to South Dakota. In August, while scouting, he surprised a grizzly with her two cubs. The bear attacked, picking Glass up and slamming him to the ground. He had been unable to get a shot off but he did have his knife and fought for his life. The other men, hearing his screams, ran to his aid. He was severely mauled and unconscious. The bear was dead.

HughGlassBearAttackMajor Andrew Henry was sure Glass was going to die and asked for volunteers to sit with him till the end came. Nineteen year old, Jim Bridger, (yes, the famous one) and twenty-three year old, John Fitzgerald agreed to stay. They dug a grave and sat to wait. They waited three days with Glass in and out of consciousness. After three days, Indians came into the area and Fitzgerald convinced Bridger they had to make a run for it. They moved Glass near water, took his equipment and gun and took off. They figured he was dead anyway and reported him dead when they caught up to the rest of the party.

Glass regained consciousness enough to realize he was alone and unarmed. Rage filled him at the men who would leave him in this state. His wounds were now severely infected. He had a broken leg and exposed ribs on his back. He set his leg and with one good leg and one good arm began crawling. He headed south toward the Cheyenne River about a hundred miles away. Maggots ate at the infected flesh on his back.

As he crawled he continued to pass out. When he was conscious he would eat berries and roots. At one point, he was able to gorge himself on the remains of a bison killed by wolves. As he grew stronger, he was able to stand and walk. Some Sioux, took pity on him, cleaned his back and gave him food. It took six weeks but he made it to the river. There he built a raft and traveled down to Fort Kiowa, approximately another hundred miles.

When he was healthy enough, he set off after the expedition party. They had continued on to Yellowstone. He caught up to them in 1824 and confronted a very shamed Jim Bridger. Glass let Bridger live, cause he was so young, and set out after Fitzgerald.

He eventually caught up with Fitzgerald but couldn’t kill him as planned. Fitzgerald had joined the Army and they wouldn’t let a civilian kill a soldier. He got his rifle back and a collection of money from the troops. He left knowing he had at least shamed Fitzgerald in the face of his other soldiers.

 

Books by Carolyn Torbett Johnson

The Promise

Hungry and alone. Twelve year old Jack and ten year old Leah are on their own, living on the filthy streets of New York City in 1908. Unable to find work, they face starvation. In desperation, Jack calls out to God. Read how God miraculously unfolds a plan to provide and protect the children.

Oklahoma Bound

A sequel to The Promise. Jack and Leah have been put aboard an orphan train. They’re thrilled to be traveling to their promise land. But their new found faith will be tested as they cross the country searching for parents and a place to call home.

These books were written for ages 9 – 12 but many adults have expressed enjoyment in reading them. You may buy them at http://www.amazon.com or if you would like an autographed copy, send your request plus $14.95 ($11.95 + $3.00 shipping) to Carolyn Johnson, PO Box 311, Arapaho, OK 73620 (If you want it personalized, please add name.)

Angel Glow At The Battle Of Shiloh

battle-of-shiloh_5At the battle of Shiloh, 16,000 men were wounded and 3,000 were killed. The medics could not care for this enormous need adequately, so many of the wounded and dying were left on the battlefield for two days. This was a swampy region and many were stuck lying in mud and stagnant water. To make matters worse, it happened to be raining off and on for those two days.

While waiting in the muck and mire, some of the wounds began to glow a faint blue color. When the soldiers were finally treated, the men who reported the glow had a higher survival rate than those who did not see a glow. The wounds that glowed had less infection and healed faster. They, also, seemed to scar less. The soldiers nicknamed it, Angel’s Glow.

These accounts were chalked up as forklore until 2001.

In 2001, two high school boys, William Martin and Jonathan Curtis did a science fair project. They wanted to prove there really was an Angel’s Glow.

They showed how tiny parasitic worms known as nematodes carry a bacteria called photorhabdus luminescens which glows in the dark. Luminous_BacteriaThe nematodes burrow into larvae then vomit out photorhabdus luminescens bacteria which causes the larvae to die. It also kills any bacteria in the larvae. The boys showed how this bacteria could also have gotten into the wounds of the soldiers killing the bad bacteria.

The problem with this theory is that photorhabdus luminescens bacteria can not survive in a warm human body. The boys explanation was simple. The battle of Shiloh took place in late April, which is a cool month. The men laid in water and were rained on causing hypothermia. Their body temperatures were at a point where photorhabdus luminescens bacteria could survive, killing the harmful bacteria. When the men were warmed up, the temperature killed the photorhabdus luminescens bacteria.

Will Jesus Have A Tattoo?

 

Jesus-Christ-Pics-2301Tattoos have never been a big deal to me. You can have them if you like, but I think I would be bored with it after a couple of years. Kind of like wearing the same piece of jewelry.

I had never heard of churches preaching against tattoos till I moved to the Midwest. I do understand the passage in the Old Testament concerning marking your body. But I believe, this  refers to the practice of cutting and heathen markings.

I ran across a scripture the other day, it caused me to really think about the subject. I’d like to get your opinion.

Rev. 19:16 “And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

So is ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’ actually written on His thigh or just on His garment? Let me know what you think.

Did Noah Really Save Two Of Every Animal?

956_noahs_ark_4%20(2)

Did Noah really gather the animals two by two? We learned this in Sunday School. But sometimes things in Sunday School have been simplified for children. Noah didn’t board two of every animal. The clean (acceptable for eating) Noah brought seven, the unclean (not acceptable for eating) he brought two. But was it seven, male and female mixed or seven pairs, which would make it fourteen. Also was it two, male and female or two pairs. This is the way my Bible reads in Genesis 7:2,3. This is New American Standard version.

“2You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female; 3also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth.”

I’m starting to lean to the 7 pairs and 2 pairs. What do you think? Grab your favorite version of the Bible, and read Genesis 7:2,3, then let me know.

noah_and_the_ark_with_animals

 

Hawaiians Emigrate To Oregon

While visiting our son in Oregon, my husband and I took an afternoon to visit the history museum in Portland. One display in the Oregon history piqued my curiosity. It told of Hawaiians traveling to Oregon and Washington in the 1800s. I couldn’t help but ask myself, why? Granted Oregon is gorgeous but what did it have to lure Hawaiians.

Researching the subject, here is what I found. In 1842 approximately 500 Hawaiians lived in the Northwest. It seems emigration started the beginning of 1800s. After Lewis and Clark’s expedition, fur traders became very interested in the Northwest.  Traders, such as Hudson Bay Co, often used the Hawaiian Islands (or Sandwich Islands as they were known then) as a stopping place, coming from the Orient.

One American fur magnate, John Jacob Aster, sent two ships to the Columbia River. On the way they stopped in Hawaii and picked up forty Hawaiian workers with the approval of King Kamahameha.

Some historians feel the Hawaiians were anxious to leave the island because of the devastation occurring on the islands due to measles and small pox epidemics.

The traders were glad to get the Hawaiians. They were known for being hardworking, great navigators and ship builders. They were pleasant, agreeable people. They also were excellent swimmers. This was a plus for many non-swimming trappers. The trappers would put an Hawaiian rescuer in each canoe, in case it overturned.

The law forbade Hawaiians from marrying caucasian women, so the trade companies encouraged them to marry native Americans. They hoped this would keep them settled in the Northwest.

At that time, Hawaiians were called either Hawaiian, Kanakas (Hawaiian word for person) or Owyhee. Many places in the Northwest show the Hawaiian influence. Owyhee River, Kalama Washington are just a couple of examples.

old coxThis is  a picture of Naukane or Old Cox as he was known. It is from the Royal Ontario Museum. He traveled in 1847 for the Pacific Fur Company. He was the first Polynesian to travel into the interior and helped establish the first inland post, known as Spokane House.

 

 

Other Information on the Hawaiian Emigrants:

Leaving Paradise: Indigenous Hawaiians In The Pacific Northwest by Jean Barmen & Bruce McIntyre Watson

Hawaiians In Early Oregon by Robert Carlton Clark – Oregon Historical Quarterly Vol. 35 No. 1 Oregon Historical Society

Powder Monkeys

The first time I heard of powder monkeys, we lived north of Boston. We were on one of our historical trips into the city. That day we visited the USS Constitution.

USS-Constitution The USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) is the oldest commissioned warship. It was first launched in 1797. Active Naval personal still sail this ship for special occasions. The rest of the time it is available to board. The sailors we talked to said they were very privileged to receive USS Constitution duty. This picture is from americanheritage.com

In their talks, the sailors shared concerning the powder monkeys. Powder monkeys were the boys who were part of the crew. These boys were teen and preteen boys some as young as ten. Their job during battle was to run gunpowder and supplies from the powder magazine (storage) to the guns. Young boys were sought because of their agility and small stature. Being shorter helped them stay below the gunwale. Powder monkeys were a target for sharp shooters. If a shooter could kill or immobilize the powder monkeys, it would greatly hinder the gunner.

powder-monkeyThis is a powder monkey from the civil war. When the powder monkeys were not in war, they worked in the galley, for the captain or doing odd jobs for the crew. This life was extremely hard for these boys and many were abused. This picture comes from americanchildhoodhist.com