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Mother Amadeus Dunne and Mary Fields

Mary Fields Toledo OSU

Twenty years after the Civil War ended, Mother Amadeus Dunne, the head of the Ursuiline Sisters in Toledo, OH, opened the door of the convent and met Mary Fields, an African American woman looking for work. Mary had been enslaved since birth and after Emancipation eventually decided to move north. Mother Amadeus welcomed Mary and offered her a job helping to manage the convent’s operations. It wasn’t long before the two became close friends. 

At the invitation of Bishop Brondel of Montana, Mother Amadeus heeded the call and headed west with a few other sisters to open missions across Montana and into Alaska.

After receiving news that Mother Amadeus had fallen ill, Mary left Toledo to join in caring for her. While in Montana, Mary established the region’s first stagecoach mail route, the first for an African American woman, and by doing so not only contributed to the development of the state of Montana, but also the U.S. postal system. 

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