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A historian separates facts from myths to search for the real woman behind the Western legend.
The mere mention of Calamity Jane conjures up images of buckskins, bull whips, and dance halls, but there’s more to the woman than what’s been portrayed in dime novels and countless books, films, and TV shows.
Born Martha Canary, she was orphaned as a child and assumed the responsibility of caring for her siblings. Much too young and ambitious to rear a family, she found homes for all. After setting off on her own, Martha tried to reconnect with her fractured family in her typical haphazard fashion, all the while transforming into Calamity Jane. Soon, her own foibles and her siblings’ choices rendered the attempt futile.
From her brother Elijah’s horse thieving to her sister Lena’s denial of Martha’s tales, author Jan Cerney uncovers the tumultuous Canary family relationships often overlooked in the Calamity canon.