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The Story Of Calamity Jane: The Wild West Pioneer Woman Who Has Fascinated Popular Media For Decades

You may have heard the unbelievable tales of “Calamity Jane”– the 1800s American frontierswoman who could sharpshoot, horseback ride, and throw back drinks with the other Wild West cowboys.

And even though some Calamity Jane stories are a bit tall and hyperbolical, the woman herself was still a force to be reckoned with.

Moreover, she pushed back against the hyper-masculine stereotypes of her time.

Calamity Jane’s Early Life

She was born Martha Jane Canary in 1856 on the border of Iowa near Princeton, Missouri, about nine years before the onset of the Civil War.

Robert Canary, her father, was a farmer; meanwhile, her mother Charlotte was known to be a prostitute.

And in Calamity’s own book, entitled The Autobiography of Calamity Jane, she described being the oldest of five siblings– consisting of three sisters and two brothers. Much of her childhood was also spent riding horses.

Then, in the 1860s, the Canary family trekked to Montana in search of gold. Tragically, though, Calamity’s parents both passed away during the move.

Charles Dudley Arnold (1844-1927), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons; pictured above is Calamity Jane

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