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Wild, Wild West
Martha Jane Cannary a.k.a. Calamity Jane



Martha Jane Cannary a.k.a. Calamity Jane
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.29

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    accuracy, assassin, autobiography, Cannary, cleaver, desperado, epidemic, faze, gravesites, gunman, tartar, education, incident, patrol, heroine, totally
     content words:    Wild West, But Calamity Jane, Martha Jane, Virginia City, Salt Lake City, Union Pacific Railroad, Indian Campaign, Fort Fetterman, Black Hills, Goose Creek


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Martha Jane Cannary a.k.a. Calamity Jane
By Jane Runyon
  

1     The Wild West was a place for men. It was a hard way of life. The country was rough. The life was tough. There were Indians to fight and outlaws to corral. You had to be able to ride hard and shoot straight. You had to be able to live off the land for long stretches of time. It was no life for a lady. But Calamity Jane was no lady.
 
2     Martha Jane was the eldest of six children. As close as anyone can tell, she was born on May 1, 1852, in Princeton, Missouri. When "Marthy" was about thirteen years old, her family packed all of their belongings into a covered wagon and headed west. Their plan was to find a new home in Virginia City, Montana. Marthy picked up a big part of her education on this five month trip in a wagon train. She learned to ride better than most men. She learned to shoot a gun with good accuracy. She learned to hunt, fish, and scout for new locations. She also learned to swear with the best of the men. None of these traits was very lady like, but Marthy didn't care. She was happiest when she was on her own in a men's world.
 
3     Martha Jane's mother died on the trip to Montana. It was up to Marthy to care for her five young siblings. Her father didn't stay very long in Virginia City. Just a few months later, he put them back in the covered wagon and headed for Salt Lake City, Utah. They arrived in the summer of 1866. Martha Jane's father died the following year. She was now the sole support of her family. She had no formal education and had only the frontier talents she had picked up on the trip west.
 
4     Martha Jane decided to put her talents to work as a scout. As a scout for the army and then the Union Pacific Railroad, it was her job to ride ahead of the men. She would search for food, safe crossing areas at rivers, and the safest trail to take. She was also always on the lookout for Indians who might be ready to fight the white settlers who were coming to the new territory.

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