American frontierswoman Martha “Calamity” Jane Burke (née Canary) (1852-1903) is buried in Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood, South Dakota.
She was given the nickname Calamity in the early 1870s.
Seeing her grave reminded me that I’d come across a handful U.S. women named “Calamity Jane” or “Calamity J,” most born in the mid-1950s. Also that I’d seen the name Calamity pop up on the SSA’s list twice that decade:
- 1958: unlisted
- 1957: 8 baby girls named Calamity
- 1956: 11 baby girls named Calamity [debut]
- 1955: unlisted
The cause? At first I thought it was the 1953 movie Calamity Jane, but I couldn’t explain that gap between the movie’s release and the name’s rise in usage.
Then I discovered the short-lived TV show Buffalo Bill, Jr. (1955–1956) — it featured a 12-year-old character named after the historical Calamity Jane.
[What’s this road trip all about?]