True Grit and Black Women of the West: The Story of “Stagecoach” Mary Fields

Historian Michael Searles explores the world of African-American women in the Old West, including Montana’s “Stagecoach” Mary Fields, who wore a six shooter, smoked cigars, and was given official permission to drink at her local tavern.
Michael Searles
Friday, October 4, 2013
6:30pm @ Central Library


True Grit’s fictional heroine Mattie Ross had real-life counterparts—and not all of them were white. Women of color played their part in the history of the American West, and historian Michael Searles explores their world.

Among his subjects is “Stagecoach” Mary Fields, who wore a six shooter on her hip, smoked cigars, and was given official permission to drink at her local tavern in Montana. Searles’ talk examines the little known history of black women with true grit in the West.

Searles is an emeritus professor of history at Georgia Regents University (formerly Augusta State University) in Augusta, Georgia.