1852 Martha Jane Cannary later known as "Calamity Jane" is born in Princeton, Missouri. There is not much we really know about Calamity Jane. it's almost like she was a celebrity created by the Western Dime novelists; a woman living the adventure of the frontier. She led a tough short hard life. The eldest of six kids, her Dad a rambler and a gambler, her Mom a prostitute. In 1865 they joined a wagon train to Virginia City, Montana, one of her sisters dying on the way. Next year they move to Salt Lake City and her Dad tries to farm 40 acres and dies within the year. At age 14 she takes on the responsibility of raising her siblings with her Mom seemingly vanishing from the scene. They move to Wyoming and Jane does what she has to do, washes dishes, works as a cook, a waitress, dance-hall girl, nurse and ox-team driver. By 1874 the facts start slipping into the legend, she claims she is engaged as a scout for the US Army out of Fort D.A. Russell in Wyoming, the reality is she's working at Fort Laramie's Three-Mile Hog Ranch. in her best Buffalo Bill Wild West regalia One of the more reliable voices from that far long gone past is Captain Jack Crawford; he stated after her death; "never saw service in any capacity under Generals Wesley Merritt and George Crook, she never saw a lynching and never was in an Indian fight. She was simply a notorious character, dissolute and devilish, but possessed a generous streak which made her popular." Plus she favored men's clothing. photos of her wearing woman's clothing The Western Dime novelists took a shine to her and made her famous, with her taste for alcohol and knowing how to spin a tall tale it got her more fame than money. Later in life still knocking them down On June 10, 1876 she rented a horse and buggy in Cheyenne for a one mile joy ride to Fort Russell and back, but she was so drunk she passed right by her destination without noticing it and finally ended up 90 miles away at Fort Laramie. Later in 1876 she joined a wagon train that included Wild Bill Hickok and she latched on to him and his renown for the rest of her life claiming they got married, had kids and when Jack McCall killed Wild Bill she claimed to have attacked McCall with a meat cleaver. There's no record of any of this. A book written in 1941 seemed to revive more of the fantasy, it was mostly high fiction, but it caught the public's fancy and gave the legend a bump. Wild Bill and since this is a gun forum these are purported to be his guns We do know she did good work as a nurse during the smallpox epidemic in Deadwood in 1876 or 1878. If you read between the lines you come around to Capt Crawford's assessment, sensing she did have a caring and generous spirit. During her time in Deadwood she became pals with the town's leading madam Dora DuFran and worked part time in the brothel. Madam DuFran She saved her money and in 1881 was able to buy a ranch up in Miles City, Montana and got married, had a child that was adopted by a foster family, probably due to her encroaching alcoholism. In 1893 she joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West as a story teller, but again the booze interfered and didn't work out, it's also noted that she was a participant in the 1901 Pan American Exposition. She returned to Deadwood in 1903 and worked again for Madam DuFran as a cook and washerwoman, her drinking didn't stop and she died on August 1st of that year from pneumonia and inflammation of the bowels. 51 years old. She had this serious attachment for Bill Hickok, or being near his celebrity, after his death and burial she had his body dug up and moved to a larger plot so when she bit the dust she would be buried right beside him...and she was...never read a kind word Wild Bill Hickok ever said about her. We shouldn't think any less of her, them tall tales was one of the reasons folks left the safety of their homes to go see what was on the other side of the horizon. Them stories helped feed the restless imagination that is, or was, core to our country's greatness. Life don't really start getting interesting until you leave your comfort zone.