— THE MYSTERIOUS CALAMITY JANE —      Martha Jane Cannary wrote that when she rescued a soldier named “Captain Egan” during an Indian battle in Wyoming Territory, he bestowed her with a unique nickname.

“I lifted him onto my horse in front of me and succeeded in getting him safely to the Fort. Captain Egan on recovering laughingly said, ‘I name you Calamity Jane, the heroine of the plains.’ I have borne […]

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— HE COULD OUTSTARE A MAD COBRA — A tall man with gray eyes, bushy eyebrows, and a full thick mustache stood inside his new hardware store arranging merchandise when he heard gunfire echo through the streets of Deadwood, South Dakota.

Seth Bullock learned the shooting came from Nuttal & Mann’s saloon on Main Street where Jack McCall had gunned down Wild Bill Hickok with a bullet to the back of […]

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— TO LIVE AND DIE BY THE GUN — Two men eyed each other with respectful caution, staging a sort of methodical gunman’s dance, circling the town square, waiting for the perfect split second to draw down on the other.

In reality, scenes like this were rare in the Old West—mostly a figment of Hollywood’s imagination. Face-to-face gun battles were far from common. 

The rate of homicides in […]

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The Mystery of “Dead Man’s Hand”

Dead Man's Hand

As far back as I can remember, the expression “dead man’s hand” has always been associated with Wild Bill Hickok.

The Old West lawman purportedly had been holding a two-pair poker hand – Aces and eights – when he was shot in the back of the head by Jack McCall, August 2, 1876, in Deadwood, Dakota Territory.

“Fingers Still Crimped …”

The initial reference to the cards emerged in the 1926 book, WILD BILL HICKOK: […]

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