James Butler 'Wild Bill' Hickok Meets 'Calamity Jane' Cannary
In 1876, Calamity Jane settled in the area of Deadwood, South Dakota, in the Black Hills.
There, she became friends with, and was occasionally employed by, Dora DuFran, the Black Hills' leading madam. She became friendly with Wild Bill Hickok and Charlie Utter, having travelled with them to Deadwood in Utter's wagon train. Jane greatly admired Hickok (to the point of infatuation), and she was obsessed with his personality and life. After Hickok was killed during a poker game on August 2, 1876, Calamity Jane claimed to have been married to Hickok and that Hickok was the father of her child (Jane), who she said was born on September 25, 1873, and whom she later put up for adoption by Jim O'Neil and his wife. No records are known to exist which prove the birth of a child, and the romantic slant to the relationship might have been fabrication. During the period that the alleged child was born, she was working as a scout for the army. At the time of his death, Hickok was newly married to Agnes Lake Thatcher.
In spring of 1876, she was ordered north with General Crook to join Generals Miles, Terry and Custer at the Big Horn River. During this march, she swam the Platte river near Fort Fetterman to deliver dispatches from General Crook to a local outpost. Contracting a severe illness, she was sent back in General Crook's ambulance to Fort Fetterman where she was hospitalized for fourteen days.
When she was finally able to ride she headed to Fort Laramie where she met Wild Bill Hickok who was traveling with Charlie Utter’s wagon train to Deadwood, South Dakota. Both being outrageous exaggerators and heavy drinkers, the two it off immediately. Although, the two have often been said to have been romantically involved, there is little to support these stories. Jane joined the train which arrived in Deadwood in June of 1876.
After recuperating at Fort Fetterman for two weeks, she rode to Fort Laramie, where she met James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok. Together, with Colorado Charles Otter, his brother Steve, and Kittie Arnold, they rode to Deadwood, South Dakota, arriving "about June" 1876. The Black Hills Pioneer reported "Calamity Jane has arrived."
Legend states that she and Wild Bill were involved during the gold mining years in Deadwood; however, there is no evidence supporting this theory, although it seems she wanted a relationship with him but he did not feel the same. Hickok had just married Agnes Lake Thatcher of Cheyenne, Wyoming, in March of that same year, and was writing letters home to her in Ohio.