Today (5/1) is Calamity Jane's birthday. Real name Martha Jane Canary, she was born in 1856 in Missouri. Her life story is a wild one, mixed with many rumors, self-proclaimed truths and unconfirmed details. It seems that Calamity Jane was a bit of a hustler, according to Biography.com, and quite the storyteller and historians believe that much of the information in her autobiography booklet she released as a promotional pamphlet is thought to be embellished or outright lies.

Wikipedia says she allegedly supported herself with a number of occupations, including a scout, a prostitute, dishwasher, cook, an ox-driver, and lastly a sharpshooting show woman in the Wild Bill Hickok traveling Wild West Show.

We do know that she spent some of her colorful life in Montana.

  • When she was a child in 1863 her family moved on a wagon train from Missouri to Virginia City, MT according to The Vintage News. They stayed less than a year before moving on to Salt Lake City.
  • Biography.com also states that Calamity spent most of her adult life in Wyoming and South Dakota and returned to Montana in 1881 when she bought a ranch and ran an inn near Miles City. Unverifiable claims say she lived in Boulder, MT for a while.

Years of hard living and severe alcoholism led to her death at age 47 in 1903 in South Dakota where she is buried next to Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood.