Thursday, 08 April 2004
Pix Of The Day: Wild Bill Hickok & Calamity Jane
CREDIT: © AdamsMuseumAndHouse.org
WHERE: Deadwood, SD. WHAT: the life and times of Wild Bill and Calamity Jane.
MAPS: South Dakota and Deadwood. Thumbnail clicks  pop-up source pages.
The two most famous people associated with Deadwood, South Dakota, are 'Wild Bill' Hickock and 'Calamity Jane'. Formally Joseph Butler Hickok (1837-1876) and Martha Canary [sometimes 'Cannary'] (1856-1903), you may read their stories at those links, which we chose because they deflate some of the myths surrounding the pair. Places like Deadwood quite reasonably see connections from the colorful past as economic opportunities, but planting sound history makes a more secure investment than growing wild myths.
Wild Bill arrived in Deadwood on Colorado Charlie Utter's wagon train around 12 July, and was murdered on 02 August. Calamity had joined the wagon train at Laramie, and there is other evidence that the two met and were friendly, but there is no evidence for the romanticized myth of eternal love & devotion. The two are buried close one to the other in Mount Moriah cemetery, from where we earlier showed a modern view of Deadwood. Ned Buntline dime novels were an early promoter of such Western myths, including a dime novel fictional character called 'Deadwood Dick, The Prince of the Road', possibly a lucky alignment with Nat Love. The myth mill has been grinding ever since, obscuring the much more interesting truth about their life and times.
Other sources of information are: Calamity's own tale, under her married name of Burk [sometimes 'Burke']; a picture of both graves from Donna's 'Vagabond Van' tour, November 2002 page; the WSD [Weekly South Dakotan] for a concise history, especially 'A Time of Strife', and Custer, Gordon, and the picture page for Wild Bill, Calamity, and a redoubtable cigar chomping Brit named 'Poker Alice'.
Today's thumbnails were chosen from the gallery in the photostore on the Adams Museum and House web site. There are several pictures of both Wild Bill Hickock or Calamity Jane widely available on the web, but we thought this resource was especially useful because the images are varied, and 8"x10" prints may be purchased at low prices. We chose Wild looking Bill looking a little less poker faced than is usual, and Calamity in her normal clothes rather than the cross dressing publicity shots that were probably startling in her own day.
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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)