Calamity Jane is Born in Princeton, Missouri: May 1, 1852

Calamity Jane
Public Domain

Martha Jane Cannary Burke was born in Princeton. The infamous frontier woman was known as “Calamity Jane.”

Calamity Jane was a renowned frontierswoman, scout, and sharpshooter of the American Wild West. She spent much of her childhood moving westward with her family, eventually settling in Virginia City, Montana, after her parents passed away. Forced to provide for herself and her younger siblings, Martha took up various jobs, including working as a cook, waitress, dance hall girl, and even as a teamster, where she began her journey into the rough-and-tumble life that would later define her.

In the 1870s, Martha Jane began gaining recognition as “Calamity Jane” while serving as a scout for the U.S. Army, particularly under the command of General George Crook. The origins of her nickname are uncertain, with various accounts suggesting different stories. One popular tale claims that her reputation for rescuing soldiers in perilous situations led to the moniker “Calamity Jane,” while others attribute it to her tough demeanor and rowdy lifestyle. Regardless, the name stuck, and Calamity Jane became an iconic figure of the Old West.

Calamity Jane’s life intersected with several legendary characters of the Wild West, most notably Wild Bill Hickok, with whom she had a close association. She claimed to have been married to him, though there is little evidence to support this. Jane spent much of her later life in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where she became a fixture of Deadwood’s social scene. Her colorful personality and unconventional lifestyle endeared her to many, though she also struggled with alcoholism and poverty in her later years.

Calamity Jane passed away on August 1, 1903, in Terry, South Dakota, and was buried next to Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood’s Mount Moriah Cemetery. Over the years, her legacy has been embellished, and she has become a larger-than-life figure in American folklore. From her adventures on the frontier to her portrayal in countless books, movies, and television series, Calamity Jane’s story endures, capturing the imagination of those fascinated by the Wild West’s daring and resilient characters.