Martha Jane Cannary. Name doesn’t ring a bell?
Then you might know her by her legendary moniker “Calamity” Jane.
Ever wonder how she got the name?
Cannary was born in 1852 in Missouri. In ’65 her family sold out and headed to Montana with a wagon train of eager settlers. According to her memoirs, even at that young age, Martha Jane was all about excitement and danger. She rode with the men on hunting parties, and never slowed them down or got in the way. A real frontier gal. Good thing. Her mother died on that trip and her father passed away two years later, leaving Martha Jane to raise five siblings.
A fine horsewoman, crack shot, and skilled tracker, she fell in with army soldiers and was welcomed into the company of General George Crook, possibly even Custer himself. To an extent, she had found another family.
Though there are multiple versions of how she was dubbed “Calamity,” the earliest one sprung from her time with the army. According to her, she pulled a wounded Capt. Egan from his saddle during an Indian ambush and galloped back to the fort with the man. The captain, grateful for the rescue, thanked her for saving him from such a calamity and dubbed her “Calamity” Jane. Fuzzier stories claimed she was a disaster-prone hellion. A Chicago newspaper reporter said the name had slipped from the lips of a rival scout when Martha Jane “wandered off” during a military campaign on the Powder River.
Being a writer, I like to think I’m a fair judge of human nature. We leave clues all the time to the kind of person we are. So what are the facts surrounding “Calamity” Jane and how might she have really gotten her name?
We know she could outride, outshoot, outdrink, and reportedly even outfight most men. She was loud and rough around the edges. (Remember, she was orphaned at 14, a time when girls need their mother the most.) She was arrested more than once for public drunkenness. She was a legitimate army scout. She was known for her generosity with whatever possessions she had—money, food, shelter. In Deadwood, she rescued a stagecoach from an Indian attack and selflessly nursed sick neighbors through a bout of smallpox.
I would argue a disaster-prone hellion simply wouldn’t have survived the West, much less as a female hellion. I would further argue that a professional tracker who’d lived in the west since the age of 8 wouldn’t get lost while pursuing said profession. Hence, the “wandered off” theory sounds preposterous. Involved in more than one skirmish, “Calamity” was steady, not given to panic. Therefore, I believe we can safely assume she would have willingly attempted to save Capt. Egan. It should be noted that the captain never disputed the story exactly. He disputed what he said. “I name you Calamity, Jane, the heroine of the plains.”
Uh, yeah, that’s a little hard to swallow.
I think he would have said something more along the lines of, “Thanks. You sure saved me from one heck of a calamity, Jane.”
At least, that’s how I would have written it.
Heather Blanton is the independent bestselling author of several Christian Westerns, including the Romance in the Rockies series, which has sold over 40,000 copies. Intrigued by the concept of three good sisters stranded in a lawless Colorado mining town, a few notable Hollywood producers have requested the script for her first book in that series, A Lady in Defiance. Heather’s writing is gritty and realistic. In fact, her books have been compared to AMC’s Hell on Wheels series, as well as the legendary Francine Rivers book, Redeeming Love.
A former journalist, Heather is an avid researcher and skillfully weaves truth in among the fictional story lines. She loves exploring the American West, especially ghost towns and museums. She has walked parts of the Oregon Trail, ridden horses through the Rockies, climbed to the top of Independence Rock, and even held an outlaw’s note in her hand.
She writes Westerns because she grew up on a steady diet of Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and John Wayne movies. Her most fond childhood memory is of sitting next to her father, munching on popcorn, and watching Lucas McCain unload that Winchester!
A Promise in Defiance (Romance in the Rockies, Book 3)
CHOICES HAVE CONSEQUENCES… EVEN FOR THE REDEEMED. When Charles McIntyre founded Defiance, he was more than happy to rule in hell rather than serve in heaven. But things have changed. Now, he has faith, a new wife…and a ten-year-old half-breed son. Infamous madam Delilah Goodnight wants to take it all away from him. How can he protect his kingdom and his loved ones from her schemes without falling back on his past? How does he fight evil if not with evil?
Logan Tillane carries a Bible in his hand, wears a gun on his hip, and fights for lost souls any way he can. Newly arrived in Defiance, he has trouble, though, telling saints from sinners. The challenge only worsens when Delilah flings open the doors to the scandalous Crystal Chandelier. She and the new preacher have opposite plans for the town. One wants to save it, one wants to lead it straight to hell.
For Tillane and McIntyre, finding redemption was a long, hard road. God’s grace has washed away their sins, but the consequences remain and God will not be mocked. For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap…and the harvest is finally at hand.
Copyright © 2016 Heather Blanton
Fact to Fiction, Guest Post by Paty Jager Welcome to the Petticoat Ball Blog Tour; a Celebration of two new sweet historical romances, Guest Post by Shanna Hatfield Her Independent Spirit, Guest Post by Zina Abbott