DEAD: Calamity Jane

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

Calamity Jane (aged 51)
American scout and frontierswoman

Martha Jane Canary or Cannary (May 1, 1852 – August 1, 1903), better known as Calamity Jane, was an American frontierswoman and professional scout known for being an acquaintance of Wild Bill Hickok’s. Late in her life, she appeared in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition. She is said to have exhibited compassion to others, especially to the sick and needy. This facet of her character contrasted with her daredevil ways and helped to make her a noted frontier figure. She was also known for her habit of wearing men’s attire. Much of what she claimed to have witnessed and participated in could not be proven. She did not have a formal education and suffered from alcoholism.

DEATH: Jane returned to the Black Hills in the spring of 1903, and 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 brothel girls in Belle Fourche. In late July, Jane travelled by ore train to Terry, South Dakota, a small mining village near Deadwood, and stayed at the Calloway Hotel. She died at the age of 51. It was reported that she had been drinking heavily while on board the train and had become sick to her stomach. The conductor, S.G. Tillett, carried her off the train,a bartender secured a room for her at the Calloway Hotel, and a doctor was summoned. Jane died almost immediately afterwards on Saturday, August 1, 1903, from inflammation of the bowels and pneumonia.

Calamity Jane was buried at Mount Moriah Cemetery, South Dakota, next to Wild Bill Hickok. Four of the men who planned her funeral later stated that Wild Bill Hickok had “absolutely no use” for Jane while he was alive, so they decided to play a posthumous joke on him by giving her a resting place by his side.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”.

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