Wild Bill Hickok

Wild Bill Hickok

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The Original Wild West Showdown

James Butler Hickok arrived in Springfield, Missouri, in the summer of 1865, fresh off a stint as Union scout and spy during the Civil War. The 28-year-old Illinois native was already known locally as “Wild Bill,” but there was little at the time to distinguish him from the ...read more

Wild Bill Hickok’s first gunfight

Wild Bill Hickok begins to establish his reputation as a gunfighter after he shoots three men during a shootout in Nebraska. Born in Homer (later called Troy Grove), Illinois, James Butler Hickok moved to Kansas in 1855 at the age of 18. There he filed a homestead claim, took odd ...read more

Wild Bill Hickok is murdered

“Wild Bill” Hickok, one of the greatest gunfighters of the American West, is murdered in Deadwood, South Dakota. Born in Illinois in 1837, James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok first gained notoriety as a gunfighter in 1861 when he coolly shot three men who were trying to kill him. A ...read more

Wild Bill Hickok fights first western showdown

In what may be the first true western showdown, Wild Bill Hickok shoots Dave Tutt dead in the market square of Springfield, Missouri. Hollywood movies and dime novels notwithstanding, the classic western showdown—also called a walkdown—happened only rarely in the American West. ...read more

Sheriff Wild Bill Hickok proves too wild for Kansas

Just after midnight on September 27, 1869, Ellis County Sheriff Wild Bill Hickok and his deputy respond to a report that a local ruffian named Samuel Strawhun and several drunken buddies were tearing up John Bitter’s Beer Saloon in Hays City, Kansas. When Hickok arrived and ...read more

What became of Hickok’s weapons?

James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok was allegedly carrying a .32 caliber Smith and Wesson No. 2 Army with a six-inch barrel when he was gunned down by Jack McCall in Deadwood, South Dakota, on August 2, 1876. Deadwood Sheriff Seth Bullock took the dead man’s possessions and gave the pistol to settle a debt Hickok owed to storekeeper Adolph Fishel.

On November 18, 2013, this pistol came up for auction in San Francisco, but the high bid of $220,000 didn’t meet the reserve price set by the owners.

Hickok owned several other guns, including a carbine that was supposedly buried with him. But I do not know what happened to them.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone.
If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at [email protected]

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Calamity Jane shared a wagon train to Deadwood with Wild Bill

Both of them spent time trying to entertain crowds. Bill starred briefly in a play produced by his friend William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody. Jane also worked for Cody later, in his Wild West Show, per Biography. Neither Bill nor Jane were terribly successful Hickok actively hated being an actor, and Jane's alcohol dependence increasingly hampered her personal and professional stability.

In later years Jane would claim she and Bill married secretly, though there's absolutely no evidence to support that, either. We do know that they arrived in Deadwood, South Dakota, on the same wagon train in 1876. There were only about 5,000 people in the town at the time. Were they lovers? Earlier that year Bill had married Agnes Thatcher, a circus owner, and he'd gone to Deadwood for the money available from gambling in frontier gold camps. Bill's eyesight was failing, perhaps from glaucoma. Jack McCall put an end to Hickok's life with a bullet to the back of Bill's head. Jane later claimed to have run McCall down, but there's no record of that.

Hickok was 39 when he was murdered. Jane lived on, ending her days suffering from acute alcoholism, working as a laundress and cook for a bordello in Terry, South Dakota, not far from Deadwood. There she died at age 51. Per her request, she was buried next to Hickok in the cemetery near Deadwood. Friends? Possibly. Lovers? Maybe. Legends? Certainly.

Wild Bill Hickok

Wild Bill is probably the most famous Deadwood resident, even though he was only in town a few short weeks. James Butler Hickok arrived in Deadwood, along with Colorado Charlie Utter and Calamity Jane, in July of 1876. He was a well-known gambler and gunslinger, participating in many shootouts before coming to Deadwood.

He was killed on August 2, 1876 in Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon when Jack McCall shot him from behind while playing poker. When he died, Wild Bill was holding a pair of aces and eights, that series of cards became known to poker players all around the world as the “Dead Man’s Hand.” In 1979, Wild Bill Hickok was inducted as a charter member into the World Series of Poker’s Hall of Fame.

The original site of Nuttal & Mann’s was located near what is present day 624 Main Street.

You can see Wild Bill’s gravesite at Mount Moriah Cemetery. You can also find a variety of Wild Bill statues, painting and likenesses throughout modern-day Deadwood.

Wild Bill Hickok

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Wild Bill Hickok, byname of James Butler Hickok, (born May 27, 1837, Homer [now Troy Grove], Illinois, U.S.—died August 2, 1876, Deadwood, Dakota Territory [now in South Dakota, U.S.]), American frontiersman, army scout, and lawman who helped bring order to the frontier West. His reputation as a gunfighter gave rise to legends and tales about his life. He was one of the early “heroes of the West” popularized in the dime novels of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Civil War Scout

With the start of the Civil War in April, 1861, Hickok joined the Union army. His name was listed as William Haycock at this time. He fought in the Battle of Wilson's Creek on August 10, 1861, acting as a scout for General Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union general to die in the war. The Union forces were slaughtered and the new general, Major Samuel Sturgis, led the retreat. He was discharged from the Union Army in September 1862. He spent the rest of war either acting as a scout, spy, or police detective in Springfield, Missouri.

Police History: How ‘Wild Bill’ Hickok became a police legend

James Butler Hickok was born May 27, 1837 to William Alonzo Hickok and Polly Butler-Hickok in Troy Grove (Ill.). Hickok was raised to be a defender of the defenseless — the Hickok farm was a stop for run-away slaves on the Underground Railroad.

By the start of the Civil War, Hickok had already served two years as a Constable in Monticello (Kan.) and survived his first highly publicized gun fight in the defense of the Rock Creek Relay Station.

He served as a sharpshooter at the Battle of Pea Ridge, where his deadly accuracy with a rifle contributed to the decisive Union victory.

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Birth of a Name
Hickok also served as a provost marshal, which was equivalent to a modern-day military policeman. While serving in this capacity in 1862 in Independence (Mo.), Hickok came across a mob bent on violence. The crowd wanted a bartender’s blood, because he righteously defended himself earlier against members of the mob.

When the crowd ignored Marshal Hickok’s order to disperse, he drew his twin Colt 1851 Navy Revolvers and fired them into the air. This inspired the mob to leave.

A female witness shouted, “Way to go, Wild Bill.”

Bill also served as a scout/spy. While posing as a Confederate Private to gather intelligence, Bill’s true intentions were discovered by a Reb Sergeant. As the Sergeant went for his pistol Bill drew his own and shot the man — after which he leapt horse and all into a river, dividing the two opposing armies.

While under heavy Confederate Fire, Bill crossed the river holding onto the tail of his horse as he shouted to the Union Sentries, “Don’t shoot!” After surviving the treacherous crossing, Bill delivered valuable intelligence about the Confederates’ intentions and dispositions.

The David Tutt Affair
In 1865, after the war had ended, Hickok found himself facing former Confederate David Tutt on the square in Springfield, (Mo.) 75 yards apart after an argument over a watch. After a momentary pause Tutt jerked out his pistol and fired.

Hickok drew second, but steadied his pistol a fraction of a moment on his left forearm, fired and shot Tutt through the heart, killing him instantly.

The homicide was ruled justified.

“His Word Was Law”
Bill went on to serve as a U.S. Deputy Marshal out of Fort Riley (Kan.) and a law man out for Fort McPherson.

Hickok rode as a scout during the Indian Wars for both Sherman and Custer. Custer once wrote of Hickok, “His influence among the frontiersman was unbounded. his word was law.”

Hays City
In 1867, Hickok took a job as U.S. Deputy Marshal in Hays City.

In September Hickok arrived at the scene of a disturbance at John Bitters’ saloon. A group of raucous cowboys had carried out all of Bitter’s glasses and left them strewn about the street and then tormented Bitter by chanting “Beer! Beer! Beer!” when Bitter had no glasses left to serve them beer in.

Hickok calmly gathered up some of the glasses and, in a friendly tone, said to the leader named Strawhun, “You hadn’t ought to treat a poor old man in this way,” referring to Bitters.

Stawhun, referring to the glasses, replied with disdain, “I’m just going to throw them out again.”

Hickok responded seriously, “Do, and they will be carrying you out.”

Strawhun went for his pistol, and Hickok drew and shot the miscreant in the head.

The local newspaper called Hickok their “guardian.”

The citizens of Abilene hired Hickok to bring peace to their town after their very able Marshal, Tom Smith, was ambushed, killed, and nearly decapitated.

Hickok brought his personal form of peace keeping to Abilene and it positively impacted the rowdy town, which seasonally experienced an invasion of wild cow hands from the cattle drives. The Mayor of Abilene described him as, “The squarest (most honest) man I have ever known.”

One saloon owner and gunfighter named Phil Coe did not admire Hickok and threatened him. October 5, 1871 he would try to make good his threat. Hickok heard a single shot come from the area of the Alamo Saloon and headed toward the sound of the shot to check it out.

As Hickok came upon a large crowd of drunken cowboys at the Alamo Saloon, Phil Coe quite deliberately stepped out from the crowd and sarcastically admitted, “I was just shooting at a dog.”

Without warning Coe fired his pistol twice hitting Hickok’s coat.

He drew and dropped Coe with two shots.

Suddenly a man with pistol in-hand ran toward Hickok, who instinctively spun and shot him dead. To Hickok’s horror he discovered he had shot his own Deputy — Mike Williams.

Wild Bill was never the same after the death of Williams. He exhibited symptoms of what was referred to in those days as “Warrior’s Heart” — now called PTSD.

Hickok turned his back on law enforcement and headed east to take a job offered by his friend Buffalo Bill — Hickok would play himself in fictional plays about his exploits. It would have been the perfect job, except he couldn’t act.

Bill drank too much and struggled with what he called living in a world where everything “seemed dark.”

Recovery from Warrior’s Heart
After searching for new purpose in a bottle and not finding one, Bill married on March 5, 1876. Agnes Lake-Hickok was a successful circus owner/performer. This relationship revived Bill’s fighting spirit.

Bill decided to reestablish himself in the world he knew best. With Agnes’s encouragement, Bill headed to Deadwood, (S.D.) to strike it rich, mining.

After Bill arrived with his friend Charlie Utter, he did very little mining. Bill spent his time instead playing cards and practicing shooting. Many historians believe that Bill went to Deadwood, hoping to be offered one more opportunity to pin on a badge and clean-up one more lawless Western town. Sadly, Bill would never wear a badge again.

While in Deadwood, Bill wrote to Agnes:

“Agnes Darling, if such should be we never meet again, while firing my last shot I will gently breathe the name of my wife Agnes and with wishes even for my enemies. I will make the plunge and try and swim to the other shore.”

On August 2, 1876, Jack McCall slipped up behind Hickok, who was playing cards inside the Number Ten Saloon and shot him in the back of the head, sending Hickok swimming “to the other shore.”

Jack McCall was hanged, and his true motives remain a mystery.

About the author

Lt. Dan Marcou is an internationally-recognized police trainer who was a highly-decorated police officer with 33 years of full-time law enforcement experience. Marcou&rsquos awards include Police Officer of the Year, SWAT Officer of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year and Domestic Violence Officer of the Year. Upon retiring, Lt. Marcou began writing. He is a co-author of &ldquoStreet Survival II, Tactics for Deadly Encounters,&rdquo which is now available. His novels, &ldquoThe Calling, the Making of a Veteran Cop,&rdquo &ldquoSWAT, Blue Knights in Black Armor,&rdquo &ldquoNobody&rsquos Heroes&rdquo and Destiny of Heroes,&rdquo as well as his latest non-fiction offering, &ldquoLaw Dogs, Great Cops in American History,&rdquo are all available at Amazon. Dan is a member of the Police1 Editorial Advisory Board.

Wild Bill Hickok 1851 Navy Revolver

Wild Bill Hickok was one of the greatest gunmen of the American West. He was the “Prince of Pistoleers” and one of the most exciting Americans ever to carry a firearm. Hickok’s advice about shooting: “Whenever you get into a row, be sure not to shoot too quick. Take time. I’ve known many a feller to slip up for shootin’ in a hurry.” He didn’t believe in shooting people in the back or unnecessarily: “I never killed one man without good cause.” Few men embody the brazen spirit of the frontier like James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok. Back when Hickok was a lawman in Abilene, Kansas, it’s reported that he spent most of his time at the poker table. Like many of the romantic personalities of the Wild West, Hickok’s life (and legacy) is clouded by half-truths and fairy tales.

The truth is that Hickok was a professional gambler who liked to stack his tall tales alongside his chips. He had plenty of genuine escapades, but he loved to embellish. Even respected newspaper reporter Henry M. Stanley took the bait. He once wrote that Wild Bill “is endowed with extraordinary power and agility. He seems naturally fitted to perform daring actions.” As for his appearance, Harper’s Monthly (February 1867) described him: 𔄞𔃼″, long flowing hair, chest like a barrel, thin waist adorned by twin Colts, graceful, dignified bearing…” Hickok’s choice of guns? His former commanding officer, General George Armstrong Custer, said: “Wild Bill always carried two handsome ivory-handled revolvers… he was never seen without them.”

Yes– his favorite gun was the Colt .36-caliber, six-shot, 1851 Navy revolver. Its smoothness of operation, terrific balance and natural aiming quality were never equaled in its time. Even after cartridge revolvers came along, many gunslingers continued to prefer the Colt Model 1851, and many experts consider it to be the most famous handgun ever made. It was the most popular firearm of its day among military men, peace officers and civilians.

Now, as a tribute to this great American, The American Historical Foundation is proud to present the Wild Bill Hickok Revolver, a handsomely hand-engraved firearm based on his Colt Model 1851 Revolver. Designed by Samuel Colt himself, this .36-caliber, six-shot, Model 1851 revolver is one of the most famous handguns ever made, and one of the most highly-prized classic guns in American history. Like many adventurers of the American West, Wild Bill selected the 1851 as his favorite “equalizer” – in fact, he often carried two of them–just to be sure things were as “equal as possible”– butt forward, in the “Plains” or “Twist” draw fashion.

Deluxe Engineering Features

Each Wild Bill Hickok Revolver is custom-made exclusively for The American Historical Foundation in a very special, collectors limited edition of only 500. For this edition, we selected the 1851 Navy Revolver produced by the gunsmiths of Uberti, who are considered to be absolutely the world’s best at duplicating the old Colt presentation guns.

Each revolver is polished to a mirror finish. Each component is hand fitted together for extra smooth operation. The genuine hard nickel plating across the revolver is not only beautiful, but it also enhances the fine workmanship of the engraving.

The grips for the revolver are similar to the grips on Wild Bill Hickok’s revolver. The handsome faux ivory grips are sculpted in bas relief with a bold American eagle and the word “Liberty” below it on the presentation side. The inscription “J.B. Hickok 1869” is inscribed on the backstrap, just as on James Butler (“Wild Bill”) Hickok’s original.

Limited Edition: Only 500

This is a strictly limited edition of only 500 guns. Each revolver is serially numbered between 001 and 500 and is accompanied by a numbered Certificate of Authenticity, attesting to the edition limit and your individual number.

The Limited Edition Wild Bill Hickok Revolver is hand built exclusively for the Foundation by the skilled gunsmiths of Uberti, world-renowned as the best at replicating original Colt presentation guns. The engraving is being done by some of the very best hand engravers in the world. The hand engraving requires many careful, tedious hours of a master engraver’s time. Each component is hand fitted together for extra smooth operation.

Optional Display Case

Also available is a custom made, luxuriously lined Display Case with locking glass lid and engraved identification plaque to display and protect your Tribute from dust and unauthorized handling.

Shipping Procedures

Since the Wild Bill Hickok 1851 Navy Revolver is a working blackpowder revolver, we will arrange delivery through UPS to ship directly to your home with age verification (NJ residents must ship to FFL dealer).


I wish to reserve the “Wild Bill Hickok 1851 Navy Revolver“, a working revolver, at the price of $1,995*. Each revolver is numbered and registered within the limited edition of 500, and is accompanied by a numbered Certificate of Authenticity. Thirty-day return privilege.

Please charge my credit card a deposit of $195 per revolver. I will pay the balance prior to delivery at the rate of $150 per month, with no interest or carrying charge.

*All orders are subject to acceptance and credit verification prior to shipment. Sales tax is required in certain states and will be added. Shipping and handling will be added to each order. Virginia residents please add sales tax.

This Day In History: Wild Bill Hickok Was Murdered in Deadwood

This day in history &ldquoWild Bill&rdquo Hickok, one of the most famous of gunfighters and cowboys was murdered. He was already a living legend and he was murdered in a most cowardly way in Deadwood, South Dakota.

Born in Illinois in 1837, James Butler, or &ldquoWild Bill&rdquo Hickok as he became known, became notorious when he killed three men who had attacked him. This incident made him famous. His adventures would often appear in magazines, which were usually popular at the time. Soon Hickok was a national celebrity. He was a genuine gunslinger and had a fearsome reputation. He also served as a lawman. People wanted to hire him because they knew that he would get the job done and bring law and order to the most lawless town. Soon Wild Bill was a much-feared lawman.

Hickok may have exaggerated many of his adventures. There is no denying that he had an adventurous life.

He is believed to have killed several more men in gunfights. Hickok for a time fought and spied for the Union army during the Civil War and he also served as a scout during the Indian wars.

In 1871 in Abilene, Texas, he accidently killed his deputy in the confusion of a gunfight. Hickok never fought another gun battle. After this, he gave up his career as a lawman and lived off his famous reputation, and even joined the Buffalo Bill Cody&rsquos Wild West show. However, he also knew hard times and several times was homeless and arrested for vagrancy.

In the spring of 1876, Hickok made his way to the mining town of Deadwood, South Dakota. Wild Bill by then had become something of a gambler. He made a poor living from what he won at the card table. He was not a particularly good gambler.

Wild Bill Hickok in a gunfight

On this day in 1876, Hickok was playing cards with his back to the saloon door. At 4:15 in the afternoon, a young gunslinger named Jack McCall came in. Wild Bill, as usual, was absorbed in a game of cards. McCall approached him and shot the famous gunslinger in the head. He never had a chance. The killer then tried to shoot others but his gun misfired and none else was injured. All his bullets were later shown to be duds. McCall was later hanged in Deadwood. The reasons why he killed Wild Bill are not really known and there has been much speculation as to his real motives.

Hickok was only 39 years old when he died. He died without ever taking his gun out of his holster.

The most famous gunfighter in the history of the West died with his famous Smith & Wesson revolver in his holster, never having seen his murderer. According to many eyewitnesses, Hickok had a pair of black aces and black eights when he died, a combination that has since been known as the Dead Man&rsquos Hand.

Wild Bill is one of the true legends of the Old West. He has been played by many leading actors down the years.


Much of the information about the early years of Calamity Jane's life comes from an autobiographical booklet that she dictated in 1896, written for publicity purposes. It was intended to help attract audiences to a tour she was about to begin, in which she appeared in dime museums around the United States. Some of the information in the pamphlet is exaggerated or even completely inaccurate. [6]

Calamity Jane was born on May 1, 1852, as Martha Jane Canary (or Cannary) [a] in Princeton, within Mercer County, Missouri. Her parents were listed in the 1860 census as living about 7 miles (11 km) northeast of Princeton in Ravanna. Her father Robert Wilson Cannary had a gambling problem, and little is known about her mother Charlotte M. Cannary. Jane was the eldest of six children, and had two brothers and three sisters.

In 1865, Robert and his family moved by wagon train from Missouri to Virginia City, Montana. In 1866, Charlotte died of pneumonia along the way, in Blackfoot, Montana. After arriving in Virginia City in the spring of 1866, Robert took his six children on to Salt Lake City, Utah. They arrived in the summer, and Robert supposedly started farming on 40 acres (16 ha) of land. The family had been in Salt Lake City for only a year when he died in 1867. At age 14, Martha Jane took charge of her five younger siblings, loaded up their wagon once more, and took the family to Fort Bridger, Wyoming Territory, where they arrived in May 1868. From there, they traveled on the Union Pacific Railroad to Piedmont, Wyoming.

In Piedmont, Jane took whatever jobs she could find to provide for her large family. She worked as a dishwasher, cook, waitress, dance hall girl, nurse, and ox team driver. [10] Finally, in 1874, she claimed she found work as a scout [11] 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. [10] She moved on to a rougher, mostly outdoor and adventurous life on the Great Plains.

Jane was involved in several campaigns in the long-running military conflicts with Native Americans. Her claim was that:

It was during this campaign [in 1872–73] that I was christened Calamity Jane. It was on Goose Creek, Wyoming where the town of Sheridan is now located. Capt. Egan was in command of the Post. We were ordered out to quell an uprising of the Indians, and were out for several days, had numerous skirmishes during which six of the soldiers were killed and several severely wounded. When on returning to the Post we were ambushed about a mile and a half from our destination. When fired upon, Capt. Egan was shot. I was riding in advance and on hearing the firing turned in my saddle and saw the Captain reeling in his saddle as though about to fall. I turned my horse and galloped back with all haste to his side and got there in time to catch him as he was falling. I lifted him onto my horse in front of me and succeeded in getting him safely to the Fort. Capt. Egan, on recovering, laughingly said: "I name you Calamity Jane, the heroine of the plains." I have borne that name up to the present time. [13]

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 "never saw service in any capacity under either General Crook or General Miles. She never saw a lynching and never was in an Indian fight. She was simply a notorious character, dissolute and devilish, but possessed a generous streak which made her popular."

A popular belief is that she instead acquired it as a result of her warnings to men that to offend her was to "court calamity". It is possible that "Jane" was not part of her name until the nickname was coined for her. [8] It is certain, however, that she was known by that nickname by 1876, because the arrival of the Hickok wagon train was reported in Deadwood's newspaper, the Black Hills Pioneer, on July 15, 1876, with the headline: "Calamity Jane has arrived!" [14]

Another account in her autobiographical pamphlet is that her detachment was ordered to the Big Horn River under General Crook in 1875. She swam the Platte River and travelled 90 miles (140 km) at top speed while wet and cold in order to deliver important dispatches. She became ill afterwards and spent a few weeks recuperating. She then rode to Fort Laramie in Wyoming and joined a wagon train headed north in July 1876. The second part of her story is verified. She was at Fort Laramie in July 1876, and she did join a wagon train that included Wild Bill Hickok. That was where she first met Hickok, contrary to her later claims, and that was how she happened to come to Deadwood. [15]

Calamity Jane accompanied the Newton–Jenney Party into Rapid City in 1875, along with California Joe and Valentine McGillycuddy. In 1876, Calamity Jane settled in the area of Deadwood, South Dakota, in the Black Hills. There she became friends with Dora DuFran, the Black Hills' leading madam, and was occasionally employed by her.

McCormick claim Edit

On September 6, 1941, the U.S. Department of Public Welfare granted old age assistance to a Jean Hickok Burkhardt McCormick who claimed to be the legal offspring of Martha Jane Cannary and James Butler Hickok. She presented evidence that Calamity Jane and Wild Bill had married at Benson's Landing, Montana Territory (now Livingston, Montana) on September 25, 1873. The documentation was written in a Bible and presumably signed by two ministers and numerous witnesses. However, McCormick's claim has been vigorously challenged because of a variety of discrepancies. [9] [16]

McCormick later published a book with letters purported to be from Calamity Jane to her daughter. In them, Calamity Jane says she had been married to Hickok and that Hickok was the father of McCormick, who was born September 25, 1873, and was given up for adoption to a Captain Jim O'Neil and his wife. [17] During this period Calamity Jane was allegedly working as a scout for the army, [18] and at the time of Hickok's death, he had recently married Agnes Lake Thatcher. [ citation needed ] [19]

Calamity Jane does seem to have had two daughters, although the father's identity is unknown. In the late 1880s, Jane returned to Deadwood with a child who she claimed was her daughter. At Jane's request, a benefit was held in one of the theaters to raise money for her daughter's education in St. Martin's Academy at Sturgis, South Dakota, a nearby Catholic boarding school. The benefit raised a large sum Jane got drunk and spent a considerable portion of the money that same night and left with the child the next day.

Estelline Bennett was living in Deadwood at that time and had spoken briefly with Jane a few days before the benefit. She thought that Jane honestly wanted her daughter to have an education and that the drunken binge was just an example of her inability to curb her impulses and carry through long-range plans (which Bennett saw as typical of Jane's class). Bennett later heard that Jane's daughter did "get an education, and grew up and married well". [20]

After the death of Wild Bill Hickok Edit

Jane also claimed that, following Hickok's death, she went after his murderer Jack McCall with a meat cleaver, since she had left her guns at her residence. Following McCall's execution for the crime, Jane continued living in the Deadwood area for some time, and at one point she helped save numerous passengers in an overland stagecoach by diverting several Plains Indians who were in pursuit of the vehicle. Stagecoach driver John Slaughter was killed during the pursuit, and Jane took over the reins and drove the stage on to its destination at Deadwood. [21]

In late 1876 or 1878, Jane nursed the victims of a smallpox epidemic in the Deadwood area. [22]

In 1881, Jane bought a ranch west of Miles City, Montana along the Yellowstone River, where she kept an inn. According to one version of her life, she later married Clinton Burke from Texas and moved to Boulder, where she once again made an attempt in the inn business.

In 1893, Calamity Jane started to appear in Buffalo Bill's Wild West show as a storyteller. She also participated in the 1901 Pan-American Exposition.

Her addiction to liquor was evident even in her younger years. For example, on June 10, 1876, she rented a horse and buggy in Cheyenne for a one-mile joy ride to Fort Russell and back, but she was so drunk that she passed right by her destination without noticing it and finally ended up about 90 miles (140 km) away at Fort Laramie. [23]

Jane returned to the Black Hills in the spring of 1903, where brothel owner Madame Dora DuFran was still running her business. For the next few months, Jane earned her keep by cooking and doing the laundry for Dora's girls in Belle Fourche. In late July, Jane traveled by ore train to Terry, South Dakota, a small mining village near Deadwood. It was reported that she had been drinking heavily while on board the train, and had fallen ill. The conductor, S.G. Tillett, carried her off the train, [24] a bartender secured a room for her at the Calloway Hotel, and a doctor was summoned. Jane's condition deteriorated quickly, and she died at the hotel on Saturday, August 1, 1903, from inflammation of the bowels and pneumonia. [9]

A bundle of unsent letters to her daughter was allegedly found among Jane's few belongings. Composer Libby Larsen set some of these letters to music in an art song cycle called Songs From Letters (1989). The letters were first made public by Jean McCormick as part of her claim to be the daughter of Jane and Hickok, but their authenticity is not accepted by some, largely because there is ample evidence that Jane was functionally illiterate. [16]

Calamity Jane was buried at Mount Moriah Cemetery, South Dakota, next to Bill Hickok. [25] Four of the men who planned her funeral [26] later stated that Hickok had "absolutely no use" for Jane while he was alive, so they decided to play a posthumous joke on him by burying her by his side. [27] Another account states: "in compliance with Jane's dying requests, the Society of Black Hills Pioneers took charge of her funeral and burial in Mount Moriah Cemetery beside Wild Bill. Not just old friends, but the morbidly curious and many who would not have acknowledged Calamity Jane when she was alive, overflowed the First Methodist Church for the funeral services on August 4 and followed the hearse up the steep winding road to Deadwood’s boot hill". [9]

Films Edit

The Plainsman is a 1936 film starring Gary Cooper as Bill Hickok and Jean Arthur as Jane. In Young Bill Hickok with Roy Rogers (1940), she was played by Sally Payne. She was played by Marin Sais in the 1940 serial Deadwood Dick, by Frances Farmer in the 1941 Western The Badlands of Dakota, and by Jane Russell in the 1948 Bob Hope comedy The Paleface. In 1949's Calamity Jane and Sam Bass Jane was played by Yvonne De Carlo and Sam Bass by Howard Duff both characters were heavily fictionalized.

Calamity Jane is a 1953 musical-Western film from Warner Bros. starring Doris Day and Howard Keel as Wild Bill Hickok. The plot of the film is almost entirely fictional and bears little resemblance to the actual lives of the protagonists. It won the Best Song Oscar for "Secret Love", by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster.

In 1961, in a Season 4 episode of Have Gun, Will Travel (The Cure), she is portrayed by Norma Crane. Among the liberties taken with the truth was changing her surname to Conroy.

In the 1984 made-for-TV film, Calamity Jane, she was played by Jane Alexander. In the 1995 Disney movie Tall Tale: The Unbelievable Adventures of Pecos Bill she was portrayed by Catherine O'Hara as a mythic figure, acquainted with Paul Bunyan and John Henry, and as Pecos Bill's jilted sweetheart and as a sheriff or deputy of some sort.

In the 1995 film Wild Bill, Calamity Jane was portrayed by Ellen Barkin, and in 1995 in Buffalo Girls, by Anjelica Huston. In the 2009 French movie Lucky Luke, Jane was portrayed by Sylvie Testud.

Calamity Jane: Wild West Legend, a docu-fiction directed by Gregory Monro and released in 2014, inspired French writer and editor Rémi Chayé to create the feature-length animated movie, Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary. The film was released in France in 2020 and won the Annecy International Animated Film Festival’s Cristal Award for Best Feature in June 2020. [28] Its American premiere took place on the opening night of the 2021 virtual Animation First Festival presented by French Institute Alliance Française.

Robin Weigert played Jane for three seasons in the HBO series Deadwood and in the HBO movie Deadwood: The Movie, released in May 2019.

Documentaries Edit

Calamity Jane: Wild West Legend directed by Gregory Monro in 2014

Games Edit

She appears as a side character in the computer RPG Worlds of Ultima: Martian Dreams (1991). In the KingsIsle Entertainment game Pirate 101 Calamity Jane is one of the Magnificent 7. [29] A character named after Calamity Jane appeared as a side character in the videogame Wild Arms (1996).

In the RPG Fallout 3 Calamity Jane is referenced by the Lone Wanderer in a dialogue option when first talking to Megaton sheriff and mayor, Lucas Simms. A character in a card board game BANG! - Calamity Janet. The game "Calamity the Natural World", a line of educational games made in the 90's for the PlayStation by Lightspan Adventures, stars Calamity Jane.

Plays Edit

Calamity Jane (A musical Western), an adaptation of the 1953 Doris Day film with additional songs, premiered in May 1961.

Productions: [30] Calamity Jane: The Play by Catherine Ann Jones: [31] Empire State Theatre, Albany, New York Promenade Theatre, New York, NY, with Estelle Parsons Santa Paula Theatre, Santa Paula, CA Wimberley Players, Wimberley, Texas Plaza Playhouse, Carpenteria, CA. Calamity Jane the Musical by Catherine Ann Jones: South Jersey Regional Theatre, Somers Point, New Jersey Ojai Arts Theatre, Ojai, CA Camino Real Theatre, San Juan Capistrano, CA One Eyed Man Productions, a touring production (2017–18), Various Cities, Australia, with Virginia Gay.

Literature Edit

Books Edit

Calamity Jane was an important fictional character in the Deadwood Dick series of dime novels beginning with the first appearance of Deadwood Dick in Beadle's Half-Dime Library issue #1 in 1877. This series, written by Edward Wheeler, established her with a reputation as a Wild West heroine and probably did more to enhance her familiarity to the public than any of her real life exploits. (There is no evidence that she was consulted by Wheeler or approved the Deadwood Dick stories, so the character in the stories was entirely fictitious – as were the events described, but the fictional adventures were muddled in the public mind with the real Jane. [ citation needed ] ) Calamity Jane was the title character in a serial published in New York's Street & Smith's Weekly (1882) under the title, Calamity Jane: Queen of the Plains, by the author "Reckless Ralph".

The science fiction writer A. Bertram Chandler included a character named Calamity Jane Arlen in his far future novels set on the frontier Rim Worlds, a space analogue of the Old West. [32]

A fictitious fight between Calamity Jane and an impostor is depicted in Thomas Berger's novel Little Big Man (1964). Jane is the central character in Larry McMurtry's book Buffalo Girls: A Novel (1990). Jane is a central character in Pete Dexter's novel Deadwood (1986).

J. T. Edson features Calamity Jane as a character in a number of his books, as a stand-alone character (in Cold Deck, Hot Lead, Calamity Spells Trouble, Trouble Trail, The Bull Whip Breed, The Cow Thieves, The Whip And The War Lance and The Big Hunt) and as a romantic interest of the character Mark Counter (in The Wildcats, The Bad Bunch, Guns In The Night and others).

An alternative universe version of Jane is a character in the short story "Deadwood" in Corsets and Clockwork (2011), a steampunk anthology. The story also features Jesse James. In Calamity's Wake (2013), a novel of historical fiction written by Natalee Caple, Martha, or Calamity Jane, is one of two main narrators the other is Jane's daughter Miette. [33] Calamity Jane, légende de l'Ouest, written by Gregory Monro (2010), is the only French biography to this day. Calamity Jane appears in Michael Crichton's novel Dragon Teeth (2017).

Comics Edit

Calamity Jane figures as a main character in an album of the same name of the Franco-Belgian comics series Lucky Luke, created by Morris and René Goscinny. Also, she features in the album Ghosthunt, created by Morris and Lo Hartog van Banda.

Graphic novel Calamity Jane - The Calamitous Life of Martha Jane Cannary, 1852-1903 (IDW Publishing, 2017) by Christian Perrissin [fr] and Matthieu Blanchin [fr] is a biography of Calamity Jane, mostly based on Calamity Jane's Letters to Her Daughter.

Music Edit

Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok are featured in the song "Deadwood Mountain" by the country duo Big & Rich. Some of her purported letters were set to music in an art-song cycle by 20th-century composer Libby Larsen, called "Songs From Letters". Soprano Dora Ohrenstein commissioned five pieces compiled under the title Urban Diva, the second piece, Ben Johnston's Calamity Jane to Her Daughter is a theatrical setting of selected letters. "Calamity Jane" is a song by Grant-Lee Phillips on "Virginia Creeper" (2004). "Calamity Jane" is a song by Kiya Heartwood on Wishing Chair's Underdog CD (2005).

Alain Bashung, Chloé Mons, Rodolphe Burger released the album La Ballade de Calamity Jane (2006) based on Jane's letters to her daughter. "Kalamity Jane" is a song by Czech rock band Kabát. "Calamity Jane" is a song by Chris Anderson on his album "The Crown" (2004). The 1953 movie "Calamity Jane" with Doris Day and Howard Keel features the song, "My Secret Love" which won the 1954 Academy Award for "Best Music Original Song". Calamity Jane is mentioned in the 2016 song "The Lighter" by the French pop-rock band Superbus, from the album "Sixtape".

Television Edit

The long-running series Biography featured Calamity Jane. The episode is available on the Biography website.

The name "Calamity" is given to the children's character played by Nancy Gilbert in the 1955–1956 syndicated television series, Buffalo Bill, Jr., with Dick Jones as the fictitious Buffalo Bill, Jr., and Harry Cheshire as Judge Ben "Fair and Square" Wiley.

In the episode "Calamity" (December 13, 1959) of the ABC/Warner Brothers western series, Colt .45, Dody Heath is cast as Calamity Jane and Joan Taylor as a woman doctor, Ellen McGraw. In the story line, series character Christopher Colt, played by Wayde Preston, hires Calamity Jane to drive the stagecoach containing Dr. McGraw and the vaccine needed for the smallpox outbreak in Deadwood. Colt is unsure if Calamity can handle the job because miners and Indians seek to steal the valuable medication. [34]

In an episode of Bonanza, "Calamity Over the Comstock" (1963), Stefanie Powers plays Calamity Jane, who visits Virginia City along with Doc Holliday. In this primarily comedic episode, she is rescued by Little Joe, who at first thinks she is a male. She becomes infatuated with him, and he receives threats from Doc, who covets Jane for himself. At her urging (and threat), Doc demurs from facing down Joe, and Jane and Doc exit town. No official or unofficial documentation exists suggesting that Doc Holliday and Jane ever met during their lifetimes. It is highly unlikely that they met considering the geographical distances between them during their lives.

In an episode of the television show Death Valley Days, "A Calamity Named Jane", Fay Spain plays Calamity Jane as she joins Wild Bill Hickok's (Rhodes Reasons) show. Her uncouth behavior causes Bill to think he made a mistake, and when Bill tells her she should "act like a lady" he soon realizes he made a bigger mistake.

In the 1966 Batman series, one of the villains in season three was named "Calamity Jan" (played by Dina Merrill).

The television movie Calamity Jane (1984) featured her life story, including her alleged marriage to Wild Bill Hickok and the daughter she purportedly gave up. Actress Jane Alexander portrayed Calamity and was nominated for an Emmy in 1985 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Special. The show also featured an early performance of Sara Gilbert as Calamity's daughter, Jean, at age 7.

Jane is the central character in Larry McMurtry's book Buffalo Girls: A Novel (1990), and in the 1995 TV adaptation of the same name, Jane is played by Anjelica Huston, with Sam Elliott as Wild Bill Hickok.

In 1997 a cartoon series on Kids' WB, The Legend of Calamity Jane, depicted a young Jane (voiced by Barbara Weber Scaff).

Robin Weigert played Calamity Jane in the HBO series Deadwood (2004-2006) and in the HBO sequel Deadwood: The Movie (2019).

Watch the video: # 5 - WILD BILL HICKOK - LE VRAI LUCKY LUKE