Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Delia Haskett--1st Female Wells Fargo Driver

Delia Haskett was born on December 7, 1861 in Ukiah, California. Her mother, Miranda, was a schoolteacher and father, Samuel, owned a hotel and a blacksmith plus drove for Wells Fargo. As a young girl, Delia was fascinated with the stagecoach. Her father took her with him on several of his trips, with Delia begging to take a turn at the reins. Samuel indulged her when it was safe to do so, and as the years passed, Delia became proficient in driving a stagecoach. By the time she turned 14, she was making short runs by herself. When one of her father’s employees fell ill, Delia was trusted with his route to deliver the mail, beginning her career as a part-time Wells Fargo driver.        
Delia’s first 8-hour trip delivering the mail to Lakeport came with a list of hazards to watch for. Known to be in the area, notorious stagecoach robber Black Bart made the top of that list, followed by lesser know highwaymen and safely passing through the treacherous Blue Lakes area. (The Blue Lakes were so deep and dark that the Pomo Indians wouldn’t go near them. They claimed a monster lurked beneath the water.) Delia left late afternoon, the stage void of passengers, and met her first scare before midnight. Having pulled off the road to water the horses, she suddenly heard horses’ hooves and men’s voices approaching. Fearing Black Bart was upon her, she waged an inner battle of should she run or should she stay. She chose the latter and was rewarded moments later when the band of men proved to be singers returning home from a religious meeting. Delia pressed on and arrived in Lakeport around 3 a.m. in the morning, tired and free of harm.
Over the next 9 years, Delia drove the stage as needed, becoming the first female driver for Wells Fargo. When she wasn’t on a run, she honed her skills with a long-barreled pistol to become a crack shot. She also became an expert with a whip and rode in horse shows where she performed trick riding and won prizes for her shooting skills. One such skill was hitting a nickel in mid-air.
Delia gave up driving the stage when she married in 1885 and became Mrs. Delia Rawson. She moved to southern California with her husband and bore two sons and one daughter. Alongside her husband, she became part owner in a mine, a lady rancher and successful businesswoman. In 1934, the Pioneer Stage Drivers of California Association was founded, with Delia being the only female member and elected Vice President. She spent her final years living and working on a 10-acre orange grove in San Dimas, California with her daughter. In May 1949, at the age of 87, Delia was laid to rest at Forest Lawn in Glendale.      


Alicia Haney said...

Wow!! What an amazing lady! So brave and gutsy, let me tell you , she has a lot more guts than some men. Thank you for sharing this post, I learned something new, like I usually do when I read this newsletter. Thank you so very much for sharing this. Good Night. God Bless you.

Elizabeth Clements said...

What a remarkable woman. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog, Julie.

Julie Lence said...

Hi Alicia and Elizabeth! Glad you both enjoyed the blog. She really was an interesting and gutsy lady. I never would've had her courage and sass. Hugs!