Saturday, November 19, 2011


Deadwood Street Scene and Trolley
The second city is Deadwood, South Dakota and its woman of note is commonly known as Calamity Jane. While Dorothy Hulstead might be universally viewed as an inspirational, devoted wife with a common sense idea that grew wings, Calamity Jane defies defining with adjectives, yet in some moments of her life, she, too, inspired some groups of people.
Deadwood Hotel Awnings

Deadwood is National Historic Landmark whose early highlights were 3 Gs: Gold, Gambling and Gunpowder, all of which created both real and legendary events immortalized in books, movies and tales regaled from generation to generation.

In 1874 the presence of gold was the principal attraction which drew people to the area, and precipitated gunfights and gambling. The news of gold seems to spread even overseas to places like Scandinavia. After all America was always the 'Land of Opportunity!' Gold was found in a gulch filled with dead trees and a creek full of gold; thus Deadwood was born.
Mustang Sally's [We Ate Hot Dogs Here]
[Husband's photo]
There were few restrictions mining gold; people of all stripes and persuasions found themselves striving for a piece of the action from bull train freighters, Chinese laborers,  hard rock miners, cavalrymen, merchants, madams, gamblers, merchants. Some came to mine or pan for gold and others came to cause the fortune finding miners to part with their prized findings.

In nearby Mount Moriah Cemetery many victims as well as some famous outlaws found a final resting place. A short list of legendary characters include Wild Bill Hickok with Calamity Jane buried next to him.

View From Our Outdoor Table
At Mustang Sally's
Other legendary personalities were Madam Dora DuFran, Potato Creek Johnny, Preacher Smith, Seth Bullock, Al Swearington and Colorado Charlie Utter. All created legends as much as history; it is difficult to sort it out fact and fiction.

Wild Bill Hickok came seeking fortune, but died at the hands of gunslinger Jack McCall in  Saloon #10 while holding a poker hand of aces and '8s', forever after known as Dead Man's hand. Besides his exploits making him a folk hero, he was a peace officer. Hickok was famous for his accuracy with a Navy revolvers, his weapon of choice.

Deadwood Street Scene - Colorful Storefronts

Although linked with Calamity Jane, any infatuation was on her part, not his; Hickok is reputed to have disliked her more than a little bit. She is buried beside him, supposed as a perverse joke by those who laid Calamity Jane in her final resting place. Although she claimed a child by him as well as marriage there no reliable records supporting the claim.
Here We Are At The Stockade;
Guess We Didn't Pay For
Hot Dogs
{Passerby Took Photo]

Deadwood's famous woman was Calamity Jane, a.k.a. Martha Jane Cannary Burke, born in Princeton MO, then Virginia City MT, Salt Lake City UT and Piedmont Wyoming. Her parents died early, leaving Calamity Jane in charge of 5 other siblings. At or near age 16 she worked whatever jobs she could to feed her siblings and herself: dishwasher, cook, waitress, dance-hall girl, nurse, ox team driver and finally scout at Fort Russell. Also in this time frame she was an off/on prostitute at Fort Laramie Three-Mile Hog Ranch. (This link is quite interesting, too.)

When you compare the lives of Dorothy Hustead and Calamity Jane, most of us would probably hope we compared favorably with Dorothy, at least I would. Yet I am a tad ornery and suspect there is a little more than I would ever admit of Calamity Jane in me.
Deadwood Brick Street
[Husband photo]

Her unconfirmed claim to the name Calamity Jane is she rescued a Capt. Egan before he hit the ground after he was shot in an Native American uprising. However, she was known to prefabricate and/or exaggerate stories about herself. This is her story and no evidence exists she and Egan were ever together in any unit. 

Deadwood 4-Way Stop

Even when her parents were alive they seemed to move a lot across the western frontier without putting down permanent roots anywhere she could call home. She lived by her young wits, growing up  without tutelage among men who were often interested in their own immediate pleasures.

She gained fame claiming to be an acquaintance of Wild Bill Hickok and a professional scout fighting Native Americans. Her infatuation with Hickok was not mutual according to others.

Besides gold prospectors there were the Indian Wars, a wild frontier, some of which was yet to experience statehood. As she matured she was also known to show extraordinary kindness and compassion to the sick and needy. Education wise she was illiterate, so she lived by her own wit, developed by personal experiences.
"Wild Bill Hickok' Outside Saloon 10
[Husband Photo]
The above seemingly at odds personality traits made her both famous and infamous. She wrote her own autobiography, most of it unsubstantiated by facts. Under other circumstances, she might have been a novelist as her imagination and exaggeration of facts, or completely falsified reasoning made for a larger than life reputation of a frontier woman who survived to age 51 by wit and life experience.
View Up A Side Street
Note Deadwood Is Built
On Hill Sides
It is believed she married as many as three times but even that fact is not well documented.
Calamity Jane at least provided fodder for many films, books, music and even a comic book.

So believe such a person did exist, but a historically correct biography will probably never be written, which always seems to be the case for a person who become larger than life, a legend.

Our tour bus deposited us at Saloon #10 which is still  a saloon offering card games and slot machines. A man dressed similar to images of Wild Bill Hickok sits on a bench outside the saloon, talks to tourists and allows pictures to be taken.

Deadwood Building Date with
Decorative Gold Trim
Husband and I were really tired as this was 4th day of touring and we had a banquet still to attend that night. We were content to walk a block or two, eat a hot dog at a outdoor restaurant and observe the unique architecture. Climbing the hill to Mt Moriah was not even given a thought.

The main street is still red brick. The sidewalks are jammed with tourists. I bought a souvenir shirt. We had our picture by a giant statue outside a "stockade."  The architecture  is very interesting.

Most of our group headed to the top gambling spots, so we enjoyed the street scenery. There was a free shuttle bus tour but we weren't sure we'd be back in time for our bus, so we stayed in same general area.

This was our last tour stop and time for reflection. We realized we could stay in that area for a month and see something different every day. Somehow I never thought of South Dakota as a tourism mecca.
'Romeo and Juliet' Balcony
Deadwood -Same Building
As Above w/Gold Trim

Photos by NitWit1, Except As Noted


Lisa said...

Catching up on your posts. Just have to say ~ They are GREAT! Very informative as you said, I never new South Dakota had so much history.

Your photos are wonderful! I really enjoyed the one of you and your hubby being escorted out of the hot dog bar :)

Lorna said...

both Dorothy and Jane were noteworthy, but Jane sounds like she'd be great over coffee and biscuits.

rosaria said...

Well, I got me some history here without really trying! Who knew! Glad you had fun.

Arkansas Patti said...

Thanks for such an informative post. Poor old Jane. I would love to read her own autobiography. That was a tough time to be a woman.

Cheryl said...

I read this post with fascination. I must read more about Calamity Jane, she intrigues me! I especially loved the photo of the Romeo and Juliet balcony, what beautiful architecture here.

Liz said...

Can't think of Calamity Jane without seeing Doris Day! Fascinating. Didn't know all those people were real.

Amber Star said...

I really liked the HBO series "Deadwood" when it was on. It had a lot of really rough talk, but for some reason it sort of seemed to fit the characters. Jane was portrayed as being more than a little off kilter, but a very kind woman on that series.

I've gotten behind on reading your blog and will return to find out about your other adventures. :)

NitWit1 said...

Amber: don't miss this one, the first about out trip:

and the next one about DONKEY WINE

Anonymous said...

I sure did enjoy this. I would love to visit that place. You all sure had a great trip and have seen some very interesting places and things. I really appreciate you sharing all your pictures and telling of your adventures. Hugs