"If I hadn't had to play Calamity Jane"
Calamity Jane in 1895
Public DomainCalamity Jane in 1895 - Credit: H.R. Locke, US Library of Congress

Martha Jane Canary (1852-1903), known as Calamity Jane, was an American frontierswoman and professional scout.  She was the oldest of six children.  In 1865, her family moved from Missouri to Utah, via Montana.  The journey was extremely tough and perilous, but Jane excelled as a horsewoman and hunter.  Her mother died during the journey, and her father died two years later, leaving Jane as head of the family at age 15. 

She travelled with her siblings to Wyoming, and there took whatever work she could find.  In 1874, she found work as a scout and, less famously, as a prostitute.  Much of her fame comes from her own tales, which may have been exaggerated – but she was certainly an intrepid, brave and resourceful woman of the American frontier.