Martha Jane Canary (May 1, 1852 – August 1, 1903), better known as Calamity Jane, was an American frontierswoman, sharpshooter, and storyteller.

Who was the real Calamity Jane? Historians search for an answer. (

Calamity Jane, born Martha Jane Canary, is a legend of the American West. Her exploits have become the stuff of legend, glamorizing life in the Old West. However, separating fact from fiction when it comes to her real-life story can be quite challenging. Let’s delve into the details.

  1. The Iconoclast and the Legend:
    • Calamity Jane is often described as an iconoclast who defied 19th-century female norms. She gained exceptional fame and fortune in the male-dominated American West.
    • The fictional heroine was portrayed as a buckskin-clad, gun-slinging, foul-mouthed cowgirl with a legendary affinity for alcohol. These aspects contributed to her enduring legacy.
  1. The Search for Truth:
    • Historians have spent decades trying to uncover the real Calamity Jane. Unfortunately, her illiteracy left no letters, journals, or even a signature for analysis.
    • Many of the myths and fabrications surrounding her were introduced by Calamity herself, making it challenging to separate fact from fiction.
  1. Early Life and Adventures:
  1. Birth Date Controversy:
    • While it’s generally believed that she was born on May 1, 1852, in Princeton, Missouri, some sources suggest 1856 as her birth year2.
    • Her father, Robert, was a farmer, and her family’s journey westward was likely influenced by the booming mining towns in Montana3.Calamity Jane’s real-life story remains elusive due to the mix of half-truths, fabrications, and her own myth-making. Regardless, her enduring legend continues to captivate imaginations, reminding us of the complex and fascinating characters of the American West.
      Calamity Jane was known for her daring and adventurous life in the American West. While some of her exploits are likely exaggerated or fictionalized, here are a few that have become part of her legendary status:

      1. Scout and Messenger:
        • Calamity Jane worked as a scout and messenger for the U.S. Army during the Indian Wars. She traveled through rugged terrain, often risking her life to deliver important messages between military outposts.
        • Her fearlessness and familiarity with the landscape made her an invaluable asset.
      2. Friendship with Wild Bill Hickok:
        • One of the most famous aspects of her life was her close friendship with the legendary gunslinger Wild Bill Hickok.
        • Calamity Jane claimed that she and Hickok were romantically involved, although historical evidence is scarce. Nevertheless, their bond captured the imagination of many.
      1. Rescuing Captives:
        In one notable incident, Calamity Jane reportedly rescued a group of white settlers who were captured by Native American warriors.
        • She rode into the camp, guns blazing, and helped free the captives. This act of bravery further solidified her reputation.
      1. Nursing during the Smallpox Epidemic:
        • During a smallpox outbreak in Deadwood, South Dakota, Calamity Jane volunteered as a nurse, caring for the sick and dying.
        • Her selflessness and compassion stood in stark contrast to her wild reputation.
      2. Stagecoach Driver:
        • At times, she worked as a stagecoach driver, navigating treacherous routes across the frontier.
        • Her skill with horses and her ability to handle a team of horses made her a respected figure in the transportation industry.
      3. Performing in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show:

      Later in life, Calamity Jane joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, where she performed stunts, told stories, and reenacted scenes from her adventurous past.
      Her participation in the show helped perpetuate her legend.

      Remember that while these exploits are part of the Calamity Jane mythos, the line between fact and fiction remains blurred. Nevertheless, her legacy endures as a symbol of courage, independence, and the spirit of the Old West. 🌵🤠🔥


    • Calamity Jane, born Martha Jane Cannary, led a colorful and adventurous life in the American West. However, her later years were marked by struggles and hardships. Let’s explore what happened to her during that time:
      1. Post-Deadwood Wanderings:
      1. Marriage and Motherhood:
      1. Erratic Behavior and Alcoholism:
        • Calamity Jane struggled with alcoholism, which affected her behavior and well-being.
        • Her erratic actions led to difficulties in maintaining stable employment and financial stability.
      1. Wild West Shows and Buffalo, New York:
      1. Return to Deadwood and Poverty:
    • In summary, Calamity Jane’s later years were marked by personal struggles, alcoholism, and a decline in fortune. Nevertheless, her legacy as a fearless frontierswoman endures, capturing the spirit of the Old West. 🌵🤠🔥
    • My favorite Calamity will always be Doris Day. In typical Hollywood style they made it “bigger than life” and a musical. Calamity is woven into other westerns, like TV’s Deadwood. And she inspires imagination since she herself imagined it.
Who was the real Calamity Jane? Historians search for an answer.
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