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Jul 16, 2012
Calamity Jane's life and loves achieved mythic status long ago. It's rare to catch a glimpse of the woman behind the legend, but thanks to the a recent post at the South Dakota Oral History Center blog, we can now hear stories from two men who knew her. George Leeman first met the legendary Black Hills lady when he was just a boy. Pers Russell, the son of Gordon Party member Thomas H. Russell, knew Martha Jane Cannary from his days of bartending at the Bodega Bar. But they never forgot their encounters with one of Deadwood’s wildest citizens, and they shared those memories and other tales from the early days of the Black Hills in 1956 with J. Leonard Jennewein, a history and English professor at Dakota Wesleyan University.
Excerpts from those interviews are available at the South Dakota Oral History Center’s blog. Click here to listen, contact the Oral History Center to purchase copies of the full interviews with Leeman and Russell, or search the center’s database to find more South Dakota historical tidbits.