Calamity Jane was born Martha Jane Canary on May 1, 1852, in Princeton, Missouri. She moved with her family to Montana in 1865; she was soon left an orphan at age fifteen because her mother died in 1866 and her father died in 1867.
Martha Jane roamed the West and became an expert horsewoman and marksman. She dressed in men’s clothing because she led a rough life. She gained a reputation for bravery and contempt of convention. She served as a scout for famous Indian fighters, General Custer and General Miles. She carried mail between Custer, Montana, and Deadwood, South Dakota.
No one knows for sure how Martha Jane became known as Calamity Jane. It may have been from her deadly aim with a rifle – a definite calamity for any person she targeted. She performed duties as a nurse during the smallpox epidemic at Deadwood in 1878 and later married a man named Burke and lived in El Paso, Texas. Calamity Jane died on August 1, 1903, Terry, South Dakota, and is interred in Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood.
Calamity Jane was my heroine when I was a child. I watched a movie entitled Calamity Jane that endeared her to me. I wanted to be just like Calamity Jane. Of course, to me she was a glorified cowgirl.