Calamity Jane, whose real name was Martha Jane Cannary, captured the public imagination with tales of her exploits in South Dakota.
Beginning in 1877, her outrageous behavior was featured in dime novels about the adventures of “Deadwood Dick” and his fearless partner, “Calamity Jane.”
In these stories she is an expert rider and sharpshooter, ready to take on the villains of the West. In her own autobiography the real Calamity Jane presented an equally fictional account of her life.
She claimed that she served as a U.S. Army scout, prospected for gold, drove stagecoaches, worked as a bartender as well as a prostitute, and married Wild Bill Hickok and at least 10 other men.
What is probably true is that she often dressed as a man, occasionally worked as a “bull-cracker” whipping ox teams, drank a lot, and enjoyed shocking “good” ladies. When she died, she was buried next to Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood, South Dakota.
Tales of Annie Oakley were hugely popular. Two women illustrators, Miss Stewart and Dorothy Hardy, made an engraving, showing Oakley’s incredible shooting, for a widely read magazine.
In 1895 Mary Bong was the first Chinese woman to live in Sitka, Alaska, and possibly all of Alaska. She had many careers, including running a restaurant, working in a gold mine, and fishing for salmon alone on her eighteen-foot trawler.