Although Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane spent only a few weeks in Deadwood at the same time, their fame and fate have become intertwined and their relationship legendary. James D. McLaird examines the contemporary accounts that turned these two Wild West wanderers into dime-novel and motion-picture stars. Contemporary novelists and journalists created an astonishingly strong legacy for both Calamity Jane and Wild Bill, accounting for much of their notoriety. Gun fights, scouting missions, and daring escapes from enemies filled stories about the dashing pair; even their day-to-day existence seems to have been fraught with danger and excitement, teetering on the brink between lawful and unlawful. McLaird traces the role that writers and the city of Deadwood itself played in the creation of the legacies of the infamous couple. Fact and fiction have become so woven together that a definitive picture of Calamity Jane and Wild Bill is almost impossible. Their brief friendship and subsequent burial next to each other in Mount Moriah Cemetery simply added to their legendary status and made them stalwards of Wild West pop culture and Deadwood mythology.
James D. McLaird is professor emeritus of history at Dakota Wesleyan University. He is author of Calamity Jane: The Woman and the Legend and numerous articles focusing on the Black Hills and the American West.