Women of the West: Mary Logan Nolan

Posted on May 13, 2021 by Seth "from Marketing" Spillman in ,

Mary Logan Nolan. Del Monte Studio, 1912, photographic postcard. Mary Logan Nolan Fort Yellowstone Photographs, Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. RC2019.011.018.

Our Women of the West blog series is being brought to you by the Museum’s Annie Oakley Society which raises awareness of the outstanding women in all walks of life who exemplify the character, perseverance, and moral fiber in the tradition of Annie Oakley.

Meet Mary

Mary Logan Nolan (1886-1948) moved to the remote Fort Yellowstone in 1912. She made the move from Fort Snelling, a Minnesota army base now located in what is now St. Paul, where she worked as a laundress.

Mary Logan Nolan at Old Faithful [applied title]. Unknown, circa 1905, silver gelatin print. Mary Logan Nolan Fort Yellowstone Photographs, Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. RC2019.011.014.

Off to Yellowstone

She heard that Fort Yellowstone needed a laundry team, and she bravely traveled alone, at the age of 25, seeking new opportunities out west.

Laundry girls at hot springs, Mary Logan 6th from left on top. Unknown, 1913, silver gelatin print. Mary Logan Nolan Fort Yellowstone Photographs, Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. RC2019.011.022.

Welcome to Suds Row

While there, Mary and the laundry team worked six days a week in a row of buildings near the back of the fort called Suds Row. These women provided laundry services for the 360 cavalry troops stationed there. It was no easy job and required an exceptional work ethic. In 1916, the fort was decommissioned by the military because the area was transitioning to the newly formed National Parks Service.

Mary moved to Bozeman, Montana, in 1916 and married Earl Nolan. By 1918, they had two young children, and moved to St. Paul because of a family health emergency. They decided to stay permanently in the area. Their oldest child, Nellie Mae, died of diphtheria in 1920, and a year and a half later, Mary and Earl divorced. Mary continued to care for her son, James, and worked as a laundress. She died in 1948 from long-term complications from rheumatic fever that she experienced while working at Fort Yellowstone.

Woman with bear cub [applied title]. Unknown, circa 1912, silver gelatin print. Mary Logan Nolan Fort Yellowstone Photographs, Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. RC2019.011.049. 

Waterfall in Yellowstone National Park [applied title]. Easton Picture Shop, circa 1905, silver gelatin print. Mary Logan Nolan Fort Yellowstone Photographs, Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. RC2019.011.012. 

Two women hiking in Yellowstone [applied titled]. Unknown, circa 1905, silver gelatin print. Mary Logan Nolan Fort Yellowstone Photographs, Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. RC2019.011.011. 

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“Aim at a high mark and you will hit it. No, not the first time, nor the second, and maybe not the third… but keep on aiming and keep on shooting for only practice will make you perfect. Finally, you will hit the bullseye of success.” – Annie Oakley

Seth "from Marketing"

About Seth "from Marketing"

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