Delia Haskett Rawson – Carrying the U.S. Mail

Delia Haskett Rawson

Delia Haskett Rawson

The first, and perhaps the only female to carry the U.S. Mail as a stagecoach driver, Delia Haskett Rawson was born Delia Buraguard Haskett on December 7, 1861, in Ukiah, California. Her mother, Miranda, was a school teacher, and her father, Samuel, owned the Ukiah Hotel, a blacksmith shop, and was the local Wells Fargo stage line agent.

As a young girl, she constantly asked him to let her hold the reins. She also became very skilled at trick riding, roping, and shooting. When she was 14, one of her father’s regular drivers took ill, and she was given the opportunity to drive the stagecoach, carrying the U.S. Mail, from Ukiah to Willetts. The trip began in the afternoon and would not be complete until about 3:00 a.m. the next morning.

Warned against the danger, she set out on the trip and, around midnight, became very alarmed when a group of horsemen came up upon her coach. Though she was sure it was road agents, she was relieved when she realized they were a group of singing men on their way home from a church meeting. Before long, Delia became a regular backup driver on the 45-mile Lakeport-Ukiah run, which she continued for about ten years.  

She later married and moved to southern California in the 1880s with her husband and had three children. In 1934, when the Pioneer Stage Drivers of California Association was organized at Carpentaria,  she was elected Vice President. She was living and working on a 10-acre orange grove in San Dimas when she was in her seventies. She died at the age of 87 on May 15, 1949.

© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated October 2022.

Also See:

The Overland Mail

Stagecoach Kings (Lines) & Drivers

Who’s Who in American History

Women in American History