DUSTY DELIA: FEMALE STAGECOACH DRIVER

FRONTIERADO IS COMING UP ON FRIDAY, AUGUST 4th!

Delia Haskett RawsonDELIA B HASKETT – “Dusty Delia” Haskett was the first woman to transport the U.S. mail via stagecoach. Delia was born in December of 1861 in Ukiah, California to businessman Samuel Haskett and schoolteacher Miranda Haskett.

Among the businesses run by Delia’s father were a blacksmith shop, the Ukiah Hotel and a stagecoach route for Wells Fargo. As the young lady grew up she was forever pleading with her father to let her become a stagecoach driver for the Ukiah to Willits route.

While periodically keeping up the pressure on her father, Delia lived the life of the ultimate tomboy, mastering the arts of trick-riding, lariat-trickery and – of course – gunplay. In 1876, when Haskett was just 14 years old, one of Samuel’s regular drivers was struck down with disease and could not drive his route.

With no other drivers on hand, Delia at last got her wish as her father agreed to let her take the ill driver’s dangerous afternoon to 3:00 AM route. In addition to other cargo, Haskett was transporting the United States Mail, too.

On that first memorable ride Delia performed excellently. The only discordant note was struck when the teenager encountered a gang of men on horseback. Delia was convinced the men must be stagecoach robbers but held her fire long enough to realize it was a church group.

Soon after this debut run, Delia – who earned the nickname Dusty – became a regular driver for the Lakeport to Ukiah route across Northern California. Whether facing adverse weather or dangerous outlaws or overly-amorous male admirers in Lakeport Saloons, Delia Haskett handled it all with aplomb.

The origin of Dusty’s nickname is disputed but supposedly it referred to her legendary first drive when she replaced the ill driver. Delia had greased back her hair, unaware of the way that doing so would cause dust to cling to it. Other accounts say that did not happen until her first drive on the Lakeport to Ukiah route.  

Legend has it that Haskett was very skilled at diplomatically dealing with the TWENTY different Chiefs of the Pomo Indians in the area, with each Chief often pursuing different agendas. When dealing with rogue Pomo warriors Dusty’s mastery of gunplay ensured the survival of her passengers and the safety of her cargo.

After 10 years and plenty of escapades, Delia Haskett got married and moved to San Dimas in Southern California as Delia Haskett Rawson. Her driving days were over but in 1934 Delia became the first Vice President of the newly-founded Pioneer Stage Drivers of California Association.

Years later – running a successful orange grove – Delia Haskett Rawson passed away on May 15th of 1949 at age 87. Some sources claim Dusty Delia was the inspiration for Susan Clark’s character of Dusty in the movie The Apple Dumpling Gang.  

FOR TWO UNIQUE GUNSLINGERS CLICK HERE

AND FOR SIX MORE NEGLECTED WESTERN FIGURES CLICK HERE:   https://glitternight.com/2012/06/18/six-neglected-wild-west-figures/

© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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2 Comments

Filed under FRONTIERADO

2 responses to “DUSTY DELIA: FEMALE STAGECOACH DRIVER

  1. What an awesome woman!

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