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Martha "Calamity Jane" Cannary Burk(e)

About Calamity Jane | Links | Information Sources

Photograph of Calamity Jane
The original
Martha "Calamity Jane" Cannary Burk(e)

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the HBO

Born: reportedly May 1, 1852 in Princeton, Missouri
Died: August 1, 1903 in Terry, Lawrence Co., South Dakota
Buried: Mt. Moriah Cemetery, Lawrence Co., South Dakota

Brief Bio: According to her ghost-written autobiography, she was born "Marthy" [Martha] Jane Cannary, [possibly the daughter of Robert & Charlotte Cannary], in Princeton, Missouri on May 1, 1852 (although some claim her birthdate was between 1844-48). Reportedly she had 2 younger brothers, and 3 younger sisters.

One story says that in 1872, she reportedly acquired the nickname "Calamity Jane," by rescuing her superior Captain Egan from an ambush near Sheridan, Wyoming. In 1876, Jane served briefly as a rider with the Pony Express and settled in the area of Deadwood, South Dakota, in the Black Hills region.

She claimed to have been married to Wild Bill Hickok at some time prior to Hickok's death in 1876, and that Hickok was the father of her child, born September 25, 1873, who was placed for adoption (this story is doubted by those who knew the couple, and I could not find any documents to substantiate this).

In 1878 Jane nursed the victims of a smallpox epidemic in the Dakota territories. In early 1879 she went to Fort Pierre where she drove mule trains from Rapid City to Fort Pierre and then drove the teams from Fort Pierce to Sturgis. In 1881 she went to Wyoming and then in 1882 to Miles City. She bought a ranch on the Yellowstone where she raised stock and cattle. She kept an inn, where travelers could receive food, drink and lodging.

Calamity went to California in 1883, but left for Texas in 1884. In Texas she met and married Clinton [Charley] Burk(e) and had a daughter; they moved to Boulder, Colorado, where they ran a hotel until 1893. During the next three years, the Burk family traveled through Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and South Dakota. Conflicting newspaper reports show she was in Wyoming in 1885 and 1886 and eyewitness accounts place her in Rapid City in 1886. Reportedly at some point she divorced. [Although no records have been found of either her marriage or divorce].

On Feb. 7, 1892, the Black Hills Daily Times reported that Calamity Jane was in Omaha on her way to visit her parents in Iowa. In 1896, Jane began touring with Wild West shows, in the Midwest. In 1901 she appeared at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. "Calamity Jane" died in Terry, South Dakota August 1, 1903 and is buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery, Deadwood, next to "Wild Bill" Hickock.


- "The Real Calamity Jane" - from Oysterlane.com [archived version]
- "Calamity" Jane Cannary (sometimes spelled Canary) - link
- Calamity Jane - from a personal web site at aol.com
[archived version]
- Martha Jane "Calamity Jane" Cannary - from Women in History
- Calamity Jane - from Old West Library [archived version]
- Calamity Jane - from Greennet.gl [with conjecture about her reported child by Wild Bill Hickok]
- Martha Cannary “Calamity Jane”- from a personal web site
- See Photographs of Calamity Jane (this site)

- See biography of Robin Weigert, actress who plays "Calamity Jane " on HBO's "Deadwood" series - from HBO
Another Biography of Robin Weigert, actress- from TvTomes

Information Sources

1. Encyclopedia of South Dakota, by Doane Robinson, First Edition, Pierre, S.D., 1925; page 669-670

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