Calamity Jane

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Calamity Jane – Private Escort Girls in Australia

“I was, at all times, with the men when there was excitement and adventures to be had. …I was considered a remarkable good shot and a fearless rider for a girl of my age.”

—Calamity Jane (1)

Calamity Jane was born in 1852 as Martha Jane Canary and is best known as the most famous female character of the Wild West. Born into poverty in Princeton Missouri she was the eldest of 6 children. By age 12 both of Calamity Jane’s parents were dead, and she as left as head of the family. Illiterate and poor, she was forced to move from one place to another, taking any work available to survive. She worked as a dishwasher, cook, waitress, dance-hall girl, nurse, and ox team driver. (2)

Finally, in 1874, she claimed she found work as a scout at Fort Russell. During that time, she also began her on-and-off employment as a prostitute at the Fort Laramie Three-Mile Hog Ranch.

It’s difficult to write a comprehensive ‘factual’ account of Calamity Jane’s life as much of what has been written was fabricated by Jane herself. What we know of her life is exaggerated or has become part of the legend of ‘Calamity Jane’. A whole mythology has been created around Calamity Jane – so much so that she is still a figure of interest to this day. “Ultimately, Jane was a performer, providing the public with the appropriately grand and mythic image of the West”. (3)

“One of the most persistent legends has been that Jane was married to the famous gunslinger and lawman Wild Bill Hickok and that she may have given birth to his child… Most likely, Jane simply fabricated the affair with Hickok, although she eventually may have come to believe that this and other stories about her life–were true”. (4)
Captain Jack Crawford served under Generals Wesley Merritt and George Crook. According to the Montana Anaconda Standard of April 19, 1904, he stated that Calamity Jane “She was simply a notorious character, dissolute and devilish, but possessed a generous streak which made her popular.” (5)

What we do know is the Calamity was a complicated figure who was skilled with horses and firearms and dressed like a man. Martha Jane began to find her way in a man’s world taking on men’s work and a male persona. She didn’t do this because she was a feminist – it was a matter of survival. A victim of her times – she was surrounded by equally rough and desperate people in an era when to survive you had to make the most of what you had. For Jane, she started with little and died with little. She died at age 51 destitute and an alcoholic. (6)

References:

(6)Encyclopedia Britannica authors. “Encyclopedia Brittanica.” Date Accessed: February 10th 2018. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Calamity-Jane-American-frontierswoman
(1)(3)(4)History.com staff. “History.com” Accessed Feb 8, 2018. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/calamity-jane-is-born
(2)(5)Calamity Jane Biography. “The Biography.com website.”
Accessed: 10th February 2018 https://www.biography.com/people/calamity-jane-9234950