A Few Characters Worth Knowing About
This is just a small colection of people that have had impossibly interesting lives and ones that aren't commonly known about, but should absolutely be remembered.
Mary Fields, Black Mary, and ‘Stagecoach Mary’ (1832-1914) are all one of the same person. Mary was born a slave in Hickman County Tennessee and moved to the Great Falls, Montana area. Fields was the first female African American carrier for the mail service in Montana and entrepreneur. Her mail route by stagecoach was from Cascade, Montana to St. Peter's Mission, Montana.
After the Civil War and emancipation Fields never married, and had no children. She lived by her wits and her strength. She traveled north to Ohio, settled in Toledo, and worked for the Catholic convent where she formed a strong bond with Mother Amadeus. The nuns of her early life were her family. When the nuns moved to Montana and Mary learned of Mother Amadeus' failing health, she went west to help out. Having nursed Mother Amadeus back to health, she decided to stay and help build the St. Peter's mission school. She protected the nuns.
In 1895, although approximately 60 years old, Fields was hired as a mail carrier since she was the fastest job applicant to hitch a team of six horses. She drove the route with horses and a mule named Moses and never missed a day for 8 years carrying the U. S. Mail and other important documents that helped settle the wild open territory of central west Montana. It was in this aptitude that she became a legend in her own time known as 'Stagecoach Mary' for her unfailing reliability. This was despite adverse conditions that would have discouraged the most hardened frontiersmen of her time. Sometimes she would deliver the mail through heavy snowfalls on foot... once walking 10 miles back to the depot. All by herself, she never missed a day for 8 years. She also owned several businesses in Cascade County Montana.
Field's was a cigar smoking gun-totin' Black Woman in the American Wild West who was six feet tall, heavy, tough, short-tempered, two-fisted, powerful, and she carried a pair of six-shooters and an eight or ten-gauge shotgun who had no fear of man, nor beast, and this sometimes got her into trouble. But she loved the children of Cascade County and supported the local baseball team as their number one fan. When turned away from the mission because of her behavior, the nuns financed her in opening her own a café. Mary's big heart drove her business into the ground several times because she would feed the hungry.
Mary would frequented saloons drinking whiskey with the men, a privilege only given to her, as a woman. Fields was an extremely popular person in Virginia City, Montana, so much so, that a Virginia City ordinance was enacted that made it legal for her to enter a saloon, a place forbidden by law to any other self-respecting woman. However, not even this fact, sealed Mary's credentials given to her, her credentials boasted that, 'She would knockout any man with one punch', a claim which she proved true.
When she retired she became friends with the acclaimed actor Gary Cooper who told a story about her in 1959 which appeared in Ebony Magazine that same year. She was a respected public figure in Cascade, and on her birthday each year the town closed its schools to celebrate. She died of liver failure in 1914 when she was a little bit over the age of 80.
Despite Mary's hardness, she had another side of her, a kindness so strong, even today, in the beginning of the 21st Century, the town of Cascade, Montana, and other surrounding communities celebrate her birthday. When she died in 1914 there was no shortage of pallbearers for the tough but kind black woman who had befriended generations of local children. She was buried in a small cemetery alongside the road between Cascade and St. Peter's Mission that she had traveled so many times during her life.
Nora Douglas Holt was the first African American woman to earn a master's degree.
Lena Douglas was born on May 26, 1885 in Kansas City to African Methodist Episcopal Church minister Calvin Douglas and his wife, Gracie Douglas. Douglas was closely involved with Western University of Quindaro in Wyandotte County, the first all-African American school west of the Mississippi River. Gracie was the first matron of the girl’s building at Western University, and Lena grew up around the campus. When her father wrote the words to the school song in 1907, she wrote the score.
Lena studied music composition, musicology, and music criticism at Western and graduated as class valedictorian with a bachelor’s degree in music. She had been married three times before graduating and moving to Chicago.
Douglas became the first African American woman to earn a master’s degree when she graduated from Chicago Musical College. Her thesis composition was an orchestral piece called Rhapsody on Negro Themes.
The Chicago Defender, a black newspaper, hired Douglas as its music critic. She wrote an article advocating for an organisation solely for African American musicians. In 1919 Douglas co-founded the National Association of Negro Musicians. She also continued to compose and perform.
Lena Douglas changed her name to Nora Holt when she married her fourth husband, an elderly Chicago hotel owner named George Holt. Her husband’s wealth and connections opened up opportunities for Nora to travel abroad. For a short time, she published her own magazine, called Music and Poetry. When George Holt died in 1921, Nora inherited his fortune.
Holt moved to New York after George’s death and became an important part of the Harlem Renaissance. She was briefly married to her fifth husband, Joseph L. Ray, but their marriage ended in a bitter and highly publicised divorce. Known as a wealthy socialite, composer, and performer, Holt traveled extensively throughout Europe and Asia. Before leaving the United States, Holt placed her nearly 200 works of orchestral and chamber music in storage. These and her other possessions were stolen during her travels. Only two compositions, The Sandman and Negro Dances, were preserved because of their publication in Music and Poetry.
Holt returned to the United States in 1938 and settled in Los Angeles. She taught music for several years, then returned to New York, where she was the first music critic for the Amsterdam News and later the New York Courier. In 1945 Holt became the first African American member of the Music Critics Circle of New York. She produced and directed 'Concert Showcase,' a radio show on WLIB in New York in the 1950s and 1960s.
Holt died January 25, 1974, in Los Angeles.
Ida B. Wells
Born a slave in Mississippi in 1862, she became basically everything: a civil rights reformer, fearless investigative journalist, and serious badass who took on race hatred head-on by writing openly about America's lynching as a way to control African American people.
She faced death threats, mobs, exclusion by other women's rights activists, and widespread disbelief about the truth of her lynching reports, even when she went around the world lecturing about it. She even refused to give up a spot on a white woman's train car, 71 years before Rosa Park. Are you breathless yet?
Harriet Chalmers Adams was essentially the first woman to professionally wear a pith helmet. She explored everywhere she could think of, despite being alive in a time (1875-1937) when women were supposed to sit still, drink tea and faint at uncouth things. She wrote for National Geographic about huge swathes of the South American countries she explored, and helped found the Society Of Women Geographers. And, when she wasn't doing awesome things like climbing the Andes on horseback, she was the only female journalist let into the trenches during World War I.
Sabiha Kasimati. An Albanian scientist was born in Edirne in 1912 in the Ottoman Empire, daughter of an Albanian doctor from Libohova.
Sabiha lived in the city of Korçë where she studied at the High School of Korçë,she was in the same class with a young boy called Enver Hoxha (the future communist dictator) but this knowledge will cost her life!
She was the best student of the hight school and she could speak many different languages; Turkish, Albanian, Italian and a perfect French! In 1936 she studied the Acadamy Of Science in Tirana
Meanwhile Enver Hoxha became the communist Dictator, who ordered the public execution of all the intellectuals and acculturated people. She was very shocked by the execution of her Teacher Salahudin Toto and for the deportation of her best friend Muzine Kokalari (an albanian writer) so she asked for a meeting with Enver Hoxha to talk about her concerns, and she said to the dictator :" You're killing all intellectuals ! With what you intend to build the country with shoemakers and blacksmiths ?"
She also went to visit her friends in the concentration camp of Jube. She publicly disapproved the dictatorship, so in 1951 Hoxha put a bomb in the garden of the Soviet Embassy and after that accused more than 130 people of planting the bomb. Amongst them was Sabiha Kasimati. So they were arrested and without a trial, during night of 26th February 1951 22 accused and also Sabiha Kasimati were executed secretly.
Amy Johnson, pilot and adventurer.
Amelia Earhart was the undisputed darling of the press during the 1930s for her long-distance flying records, but she was nearly eclipsed by another female pilot named Amy Johnson. Earhart’s British contemporary and rival set a number of long-distance flying records as well, including becoming the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia – a journey of over 11,000 miles – in 1930. She was setting records before Earhart really got started, and might well have beaten her across the Atlantic and the Pacific, if not for the fact that Earhart received far more financial backing and public support thanks to her marriage to publishing tycoon George Putnam.
When Earhart disappeared over the Pacific in 1937, female aviators largely fell out of the public eye, and Johnson ended up in relative obscurity. In a footnote as tragic as Earhart’s, she also lost her life while flying, this time as ferry pilot for the RAF in World War II. Lost in the fog while ferrying a plane to its base, her aircraft ran out of fuel, forcing her to parachute. Landing in the frigid Thames River, she apparently succumbed to hypothermia and was presumably washed out to sea. Like Earhart, her body was never recovered.