Saturday, February 28, 2009

Delia Haskett - Wells Fargo Driver

The more I delve into the Old West, the more fascinated I become with the true stories of our pioneering fore-mothers. From 1876-1885, Delia Haskett drove a Wells Fargo stagecoach 45 miles, which (on a good day) took eight hours. Usually, the job was held by men, but Delia's father taught her to drive from an early age. By the time she was 14, she took the smaller "runs" and was trusted to deliver the mail. When a regular driver became ill, her father let her fill the spot.

For nine years, Delia drove the stage whenever she was needed. She became the first woman driver on record to carry the U.S. mail in California and the only woman in the Pioneer Stage Drivers of California Association. She was a crack shot, and could hit a nickle in mid-air. She rode in horse races, performed trick riding exhibitions and won prizes for her shooting skills.

Her performing and driving days came to an end when she married, but she became a successful rancher, part owner in a mine, and a businesswoman. She eventually acquired a fortune. Not bad for a woman in the 1800s!

Other women worked as agents for Wells Fargo, sort of like a postmaster, but none besides Delia were on the record as drivers. The grit and fortitude of women like Delia are what helped tame the west.

Reference: Daughters of the West by Anne Seagraves


Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Anna, what a wonderful blog. I had no idea! I'll bet she could tell some wonderful stories! Thanks.

Loretta said...

Great article, Anna. I love research too. It's amazing how gutsy women were in the 1800s and earlier. I wonder if it were possible, what these woman would think of our generation?

Lauri said...

Hi Anna,

Delia sounds like an amazing woman. Wouldn't it be wonderful to read a dairy she'd written?

Linda LaRoque said...

Wonderful post, Anna. I love facts like this. My husband and I took a stagecoach ride while in Durango, Colorado and in my opinion the driver has a much more comfortable seat.

Paty Jager said...

Anna, Interesting post! I love hearing about the gutsy women who helped forge the West.