For every uninspiring fact in a history book there’s a humorous, delightful, enlightening, sad, bewildering, or shameful story connected to it. Those stories can be unearthed with a little detective work. They can be found in the archival photos at a local museum, the façade of an old brick building on main street, or back issues in the basement of a small town newspaper office. Sometimes it means looking no further than the dinner table. Maybe it’s a 100-year-old aunt who has fading memories of World War I soldiers returning from Europe. Or a grandmother who danced the Charleston in the Roaring Twenties. Or an uncle who served in Viet Nam and never told his stories because no one ever asked.
As pervasive as stagecoaches (popularly known as shake-guts) were in the early years of America, it shouldn’t be surprising that women who possessed a significant dose of grit and an ounce of entrepreneurial spirit engaged in one way or another in stagecoach enterprises. Though their contributions to stagecoach history were often overlooked, women drove stagecoaches, groomed and shod the stage horses, hoisted mailbags and boxes of gold bullion, negotiated contracts, bought and managed stage lines, defended (with their six-shooters) their cargo from bandits, and robbed stages in addition to fulfilling their traditional roles as housekeepers, cooks, and laundresses—and, oh yes, mothers to multiple children.
Stagecoach Women offers an expansive overview of stagecoach history in the United States enriched by the personal stories of women who contributed to the evolution and success of a captivating facet of American history. Prepare for a teeth-rattling, romance-shattering journey that jolts away preconceived notions about women and stagecoaches and surprises with its twists and turns.