The Wild West was home to some pretty amazing women, and we thought we would introduce you to a few of them that are included in Western Legends.
Western Legends is a game that includes many characters who had a great impact on history. Some of these characters were more known than others, but all lived incredible lives.
First of all, meet Calamity Jane.
Martha Jane Canary was her real name but “Calamity Jane” is how we know her. She was an American frontierswoman and scout that travelled the land, fighting, exploring and hunting. A lot of Calamity’s time was spend out travelling and loved to spend her time outdoors.
It’s often claimed that she earned this nickname during one of many purported fights, and even today the notorious Calamity is still a subject of controversial stories about her life on the Western frontier.
Calamity was different, she was known for dressing in men’s clothing and defied all contemporary expectations of what women were at the time. She was a bold woman, with a bold imagination and often made up a lot of the tales she talks about in her ghost-written autobiography.
Did she obide by the law? Well, that’s not important. What is important is that she was a legendary woman with a legendary tale to tell.
Buffalo Bill, quoted in Montana newspaper: Only the old days could have produced her. She belongs to a time and a class that are fast disappearing … Calamity had nearly all the rough virtues of the old West as well as many of the vices . . . She was one of the frontier types and she has all the merits and most of their faults.
She is said to have been compassionate to others, especially to the sick and needy and this contrasted with her daredevil ways and helped to make her a noted frontier figure.
Mary Fields, also known as Stagecoach Mary, was the first African-American woman star route mail carrier in the United States.
She was not an employee of the United States Post Office’s; the Post Office Department did not hire or employ mail carriers for star routes but rather awarded star route contracts to persons who proposed the lowest qualified bids, and who in accordance with the Department’s application process posted bonds and sureties to substantiate their ability to finance the route.
Once a contract was obtained, the contractor could then drive the route themselves, sublet the route, or hire an experienced driver. Some individuals obtained multiple star route contracts and conducted the operations as a business.
Fields obtained the star route contract for the delivery of U.S. mail from Cascade, Montana to Saint Peter’s Mission in 1885. She drove the route with horse and wagon, not a stagecoach, for two four-year contracts: from 1885 to 1889 and from 1889 to 1893.
Once the tough, six-foot-tall Fields arrived, she discovered the mission in disrepair. She organized a team of men to make repairs and improvements. One worker resented a woman telling him what to do and backhanded her across the mouth. Just as he went for his gun, Fields shot a bullet at the man and scared him away from messing with her again. Despite her nearly 10 years of service, the altercation led to her being asked to leave the mission.
Fields proved a woman could do anything a man could do in the untamed territories beyond the Colorado Rockies. Among her many admirers were actor Gary Cooper, who knew her when he was a little boy during visits to Cascade from his family’s ranch in Helena. Another fan was cowboy artist Charles M. Russell, who included her in an 1897 pen-and-ink, A Quiet Day in Cascade, that shows a hog knocking down Fields and spilling her basket of eggs.
Fields was a proud, independent woman who never wanted to be an inconvenience to her friends and neighbors. When she became seriously ill in 1914, she snuck off to a tall, grassy area outside her home and lay down to die. Children playing in the area found her, and she was taken to the Columbus Hospital in Great Falls, where she died of liver failure shortly after, on December 5. The numerous townspeople she had befriended escorted her casket to the graveyard.
The famous Annie Oakley was was an American sharpshooter and exhibition shooter. Her “amazing talent” was discovered when she was 15 years old, when she won a shooting match against traveling-show marksman Frank E. Butler, who she eventually married.
The couple joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show a few years later. Oakley became a renowned international star, performing before royalty and heads of state.
Annie Oakley met leader Sitting Bull in 1884, and he was so impressed with her manner and abilities that he “adopted” her and bestowed upon her the additional name “Little Sure Shot.”
Oakley and Butler then joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in 1885. The couple toured with the show for more than a decade and a half, with Oakley receiving the spotlight and top billing while Butler worked as her manager, assisting Oakley with her stunning displays of marksmanship.
Audiences were wowed. She could shoot off the end of a cigarette held in her husband’s lips, hit the thin edge of a playing card from 30 paces and shoot distant targets while looking into a mirror. She would also shoot holes through cards thrown into the air before they landed, inspiring the practice of punching holes in a free event ticket being referred to as an “Annie Oakley.” Oakley even entertained such royals as Queen Victoria and Kaiser Wilhelm II—and shot a cigarette out of the kaiser’s mouth.
Oakley was a top earner for the Wild West Show and via her additional exhibition work, sharing money with her extended family and giving donations to charities for orphans. During World War I, Oakley volunteered to organize a regiment of female sharpshooters, but her petition was ignored, so, instead, she helped to raise money for the Red Cross with exhibition work at Army camps.
During her retirement, Oakley pursued such hobbies as hunting and fishing, and taught marksmanship to other women.