- Calamity Jane
- A Calamity Jane is a woman who constantly complains of her troubles or one who brings trouble with her. Martha Jane Canary (1852-1903) was born in Princeton, New Jersey. Her parents moved to Virginia, where they separated and left their daughter to drift on her own. That she drifted is apparent from the many places where she spent time, usually dressed like a man and with a gun by her side. Eventually she found herself in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where she spent the rest of her years.Many unverifiable stories have been circulated about her. For example, it is claimed that she was a prostitute in Kansas, that Wild Bill Hickock was her lover, and that she acted as a scout for General Custer. That she acted like a man, befitting her attire, has been attested. She was a bullwacker and an Indian fighter.Calamity Jane was a superior marksman with both rifle and revolver. She was dubbed with her lugubrious name when she warned that anyone who offended her would be inviting "calamity." Some reference books refer to her surname as Burke, the name of one of her husbands. But then again, she had twelve of them. Her unusual marksmanship and her many forays into the nuptial field, however, could not save her from financial disaster. Although her nickname enriched the English language, financial richness did not accompany her to her end. William Morris reported that an admirer of Calamity Jane paid her the ultimate frontiersman's tribute: "She'd look like hell in a halo."
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.