Female stage coach driver comes to life this weekend at Wild West City

| 29 Sep 2011 | 03:25

BYRAM TOWNSHIP — For most of her life, Charley Parkhurst lived her life as a man. Not only did Parkhurst live her life as a man, unbeknownst to even those closest to her, but she was one of the top stage coach drivers during the California gold rush era in the 1840s. On Sunday, June 14, Parkhurst will once again come to life, at Wild West City in Byram Township, where she will “drive” the stage coach. In addition, author Fern J. Hill, who wrote a fictional account of Parkhurst’s life, “Charley’s Choice - the life and times of Charles Parkhurst,” will be on hand to autograph copies of her book at the Silver Dollar Saloon from 2 to 4 p.m. Upon Parkhurst’s death, it was discovered that “he” was a woman when the undertaker laid her out for burial. Her friends and associates were shocked at the finding. Born Charlotte “Charley” Darkey Parkhurst in Lebanon, New Hampshire, Charley ran away from home at an early age. In later years, she surfaced as a stage coach driver in California, typically a man’s job. Parkhurst had been described as a fierce driver who was never afraid to use “his” gun. Legend even has it that she was the first woman to have voted in California, unbeknownst to officials in that state, where she had settled. For more information, call 973-347-8900 or visit www.wildwestcity.com.