Monday, September 27, 2010

Calamity Jane's Grave

Yesterday, (Sept 27) Tara Chevrestt, a regular visitor and reader of History and Women visited Deadwood.  She took some fabulous picture of Calamity Jane's and Wild Bill Hickock's grave sites.  She sent me the pictures and gave me permission to post them here to share with everyone. 

Thanks so much Tara.  The pictures are lovely and I very much appreciate you sending them!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Martha Jane Canary

Martha Jane Canary
(Calamity Jane)
(1848 - 1903)

Her real name was Martha Jane Canary (1848-1903) and she was born in Princeton, Missouri in 1852. No one knows much about her early life, but soon after she was born, her mother died. In 1862, her family moved to Virginia City, Nevada, which was then in the early days of the boom.

An Indian uprising separated her from her father and brothers, and at the age of 10 she was thrown into the world to make her own way alone. Although she had great friends and very positive opinions of the proper things that a girl could enjoy, she soon gained a local notariety for her daring horsemanship and skill as a rifle shot.

Most people thought of her as a hard drinking woman with a preference for men's clothing. She spoke and behaved bawdily, chewed tobacco and was handy with a gun. During her life she was an army scout, a bullwhacker, a nurse, a cook, a prostitute, a prospector, a gambler, a heavy drinker and one of the most foul-mouthed people in the West.

Before she turned twenty, General Cook appointed her as an army scout under Buffalo Bill. In June of 1876, she partnered with Wild Bill Hickok as an outrider for Colorado Charlie Utter's wagon train, galloping into Deadwood with a shipment of prostitutes, fresh from Cheyenne.

Wild Bill Hiciock

She had unlimited nerve and entered into the work with enthusiasm, doing good service on a number of occasions. Though she never did a man's share of the heavy work, she went places where old frontiersmen were unwilling to to themselves. Her courage and good-fellowship made her popular with every man in the command.

She earned her nickname in 1872 in a peculiar way. Back then, she was at Goose Creek Camp, S.D., where Captain Egan and a small body of men were stationed. The Indians were giving a lot of trouble, and there was much fighting.

One day Captain Egan was surrounded by a large band. They were fighting desperately for their lives, but were being steadily, but surely slaughtered. Captain Egan was wounded and had fallen off his horse.

In the midst of the fighting,she rode into the very center of the trouble, dismounted, lifted the captain in front of her on her saddle, and dashed out. They got through untouched, but every other man in the gallant company was slaughtered.

When he recovered, Captain Egan laughingly spoke of her as 'Calamity Jane,' and the name has clung to her ever since.

In 1876, by a daring feat, she saved the lives of six passengers on a stage coach traveling from Deadwood to Wild Birch, in the Black hills country. The stage was surrounded by Indians, and the driver, Jack McCall, was wounded by an arrow. Although the other six passengers were men, not one of them had nerve enough to take the reins. Seeing the situation, she mounted the driver's seat without a moment's hesitation and brought the stage safely and in good time to Wild Birch.

The citizens of Deadwood dubbed her the "White Devil of the Yellowstone" and "Saint" because she helped nurse the sick during a smallpox plague.

For the remainder of her days, Calamity Jane claimed to have been Hickock’s lover. But the record shows that Wild Bill had just recently married and his letters home from Deadwood indicate that he was happily wedded. Calamity Jane requested to be buried next to Wild Bill Hickock at Deadwood, South Dakota when she died, and there she rests to this very today.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Charlotte Bronte

The human heart has hidden treasures,
In secret kept, in silence sealed;
The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures,
Whose charms were broken if revealed.

Charlotte Bronte
(1816 –1855)
Novelist and Poet.

Charlotte Bronte was the daughter of the Rev. Patrick Bronte. Along with her sisters, Emily and Anne, she was raised in a small parsonage in the Yorkshire village of Haworth. In her childhood, she lost her mother, and as the eldest, she assumed the role of caring for her sisters. Friends and family described her as, "the motherly friend and guardian of her younger sisters."

Their home overlooked the village graveyard. To escape from these surroundings which continually reminded the sisters of the loss of their our mother, the spent their free time creating stories of fantasy lands. These fantasy stories often involved their strict, religious aunt, Elisabeth Branwell. Later in a poem, Charlotte wrote:

"We wove a web in childhood, a web of sunny air."

After various efforts as schoolmistresses and governesses, Charlotte and her sisters began to write and soon published a volume of poems under the names of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Sadly, they sold poorly. This did not deter Charlotte and her sisters. Charlotte continued to write and she completed novels such as “The Professor” and “Jane Eyre”. Jane Eyre became an instant success and sold very well upon its release in 1854.

The novel continues to be popular today and is recognized as one of the classics of English literature for its originality and strength of writing.

Charlotte married her father's curate, the Rev. A. Nicholls, but after a short though happy married life, Charlotte died in childbirth in 1855.

"Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns. "

by: Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855)
The human heart has hidden treasures,
In secret kept, in silence sealed;--
The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures,
Whose charms were broken if revealed.
And days may pass in gay confusion,
And nights in rosy riot fly,
While, lost in Fame's or Wealth's illusion,
The memory of the Past may die.

But there are hours of lonely musing,
Such as in evening silence come,
When, soft as birds their pinions closing,
The heart's best feelings gather home.
Then in our souls there seems to languish
A tender grief that is not woe;
And thoughts that once wrung groans of anguish
Now cause but some mild tears to flow.

And feelings, once as strong as passions,
Float softly back--a faded dream;
Our own sharp griefs and wild sensations,
The tale of others' sufferings seem.
Oh! when the heart is freshly bleeding,
How longs it for that time to be,
When, through the mist of years receding,
Its woes but live in reverie!

And it can dwell on moonlight glimmer,
On evening shade and loneliness;
And, while the sky grows dim and dimmer,
Feel no untold and strange distress--
Only a deeper impulse given
By lonely hour and darkened room,
To solemn thoughts that soar to heaven
Seeking a life and world to come.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Nefertiti, Queen of Ancient Egypt

12th Century B.C.

Nefertiti reigned in Ancient Egypt between 1351 and 1331 B.C. She was the chief wife of the "heretic" Pharaoh Akhenaten. Akhenaten desperately wanted a male heir and Nefertiti tried hard to provide him with one. Instead, she presented him with six daughters. It was Queen Kiya, his lesser wife, Kiya, who provided him with male heirs - Smenkhkare and Tutankhamun, a fact which inflamed Nefertiti’s jealousy and wrath.

Pharaoh Akhenaten loved both his wives, but it was Nefertiti to whom he exalted to a prominnent role in the religious and political life of Egypt. He bestowed upon her with such titles as Mistress of Happiness, Endowed with Favors, Chief Wife of the King, Beloved, Lady of the Two Lands, and May she live for Ever and Always".

(Ahkenaten, Nefertiti, and their children)

She helped her husband initiate a massive religious and cultural revolution and represented the feminine aspect of the god, Aten. Renowned for her beauty, Nefertiti dressed to enhance her best features. She is often depicted wearing a close fitting sheath. As Akhenaten´s chief wife, she wore the crown of Hathor that resembled cow horns with plumes or the crown of Mut, the vulture goddess. But the crown she is most often associated with, is the blue war crown with its flat top.

Nefertiti vanished around year fourteen of Akhenaten´s reign. Rumours abound about her mysterious disappearance. Her name was struck from numerous inscriptions. Some say it was because she and her husband fell into discord and he banished her in disgrace to her palace, Aten’s Castle. Others believe that she disguised herself as a man and assumed a new identity as Smenkhkare so that she could rule as co-regent with her husband. It is even speculated that she simply died from the plague and her death was so painful for Akhenaten that he did not wish to be reminded of her.

Whatever the circumstances, however, Nefertiti simply disappeared and there is no record of her death nor has her mummy or place of burial been confirmed. Her husband, Akhenaten died about several years later under circumstances just as mysterious. His mummy has not been found either.

Famed throughout the ancient world for her outstanding beauty, Akhenaten's queen Nefertiti remains the one of the most well known and mysterious queens of ancient Egypt.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Anna of Saxony

Anna of Saxony
(23 December 1544 - 18 December 1577)

Anna was the first born child of Moritz, Elector of Saxony and his wife, Agnes Hesse. Their son, Alberto, was born a year later, but when he was only five months old, he died.

Anna was an ugly daughter, her hunched back and lameness exaserbated her uncomely fetures. Becaause of her repulsive looks and the death of her baby brother, she received little or no affection from her parents. At the age of eight, her father died. Two years later, her mother remarried, but died six months later.

Anna's uncle August, Elector of Saxony, readily assumed responsibility for her because as the only surviving child, Anna had inherited a vast fortune. Her wealth and luxurious lifestyle extended to those who raised her. She developed a strong sense of self-importance and in her teens became unruly, difficult, rebellious and prone to explosive fits of temper.

On November 18, 1560, Anna was invited to attend the wedding of Countess Katharine of Nassau-Dillenburg and the Count of Schwarzburg. There she met Katharine's widower-brother, the twenty-seven-year-old Prince William of Orange, or William the Silent as they called him in later years.

The handsome and sophisticated prince impressed the unattractive and obstinate Anna. He too, seemed genuinely impressed with her. William followed her to Dresden to woo her and Anna fell madly in love with him. In order to marry Anna, however, William needed to seek the king's permission. So he returned home to Dresden.

Almost immediately, he received three letters from the pining Anna. Matters of state occupied all of William's time, so he asked his younger brother, Ludwig, to pen responses to Anna's letters. Afterwards, William copied them in his own hand and sent them to her.

The Catholic king objected to a marriage between William and Anna because he feared it connected him too closely with the Protestant German princes, his enemies. Nevertheless, the king could not prevent it, and William and Anna were married on August 24, 1561 in Leipzig.

Certain the German princes would use the occasion to plot against him, the king insisted that Anna become a Catholic. Anna's grandfather, the Landgraf of Hessen, objected.

Anna was excessive in everything she did. She burst out in violent fits of temper, often smashing everything within easy reach to bits. At parties, she drank heavily and drunkenly flirted with the male guests.

Frequent hysterics, bouts of extreme happiness, drunken outbursts, and fits of depression did little to endear herself to her new husband. The marriage experienced problems from the start. To be married to a man so completely pre-occupied with matters of state was no easy matter.

Nevertheless, at the age of seventeen, Anna became pregnant. Her uncontrollable moods and emotional outbursts grew more frequent. Everyone credited to the pregnancy.

On October 31, 1562, Anna gave birth to their first child who they named Anna.

While William was busy conducting a costly guerrilla war, his relatives in Germany were forced to live frugally. Anna detested her life in Dillenburg. She publicly cursed and vehemently denunciated her husband. Her haughtiness, pigheadedness and insolence angered William's relatives.

On December 8, 1564, a second child was born. This time, it was a son who they named him Moritz August Philips. After the birth, she began to express thoughts of suicide and despair, secluding herself for days in a darkened room illuminated only by candles, receiving no visitors, and refusing food.

Anna was uncaring to both her own children and her two stepchildren, so in 1564 William took his own two children from her care. By then, it was common knowledge that their marriage was a complete failure.

In 1566 Anna's little son, Moritz, died at the age of 2. Anna's behavior grew even more distressed. She began experiencing sudden and inappropriate attitude changes, recurring fits of temper, and suicidal tendencies. Anna complained she was bored in Breda and traveled to Spa, where she publicly ridiculed William and openly mocked his sexual abilities. Thus, she became subject to gossip and disapproval of the whole society. Her impulsive behavior often discredited both herself and her husband. Soon, she would sink deeper into the darkness of total insanity.

Political turmoil interfered with their lives. When the news reached them that the Duke of Alva was on his way to The Netherlands with a large army, William fled Germany with his family. They went to live with his relatives at Dillenburg. Here, on 14 November 1567, Anna gave birth to another son named after Anna's father.

In August of 1568, William departed for The Netherlands and left Anna, who was again pregnant, with his mother and sister-in-law. Anna drank heavily and the women admonished her.

Because of the discord, Anna left Dillenburg on 20 October 1568, taking her children and sixty attendants with her to Cologne. Away from the prying eyes of family, she lived a life of extreme lavishness. Before long, she squandered all her money and lived in an almost constant inebriated state. She mistreated her staff terribly during this time.

Without financial resources, she wrote to her uncle and asked him to send someone who could help her with her problems. Erich Volckmar von Berlepsch arrived on January 1, 1569 and spent four days with her. Firstly, she told him that the reason for her departure from Dillenburg had been the plague from which several people had died. Secondly, she wanted to be in Cologne where she could be closer to her husband. Thirdly, she confessed her husband's relatives cared little for her. Last, she told him about her financial difficulties. She owed money as well as her staff's salaries. Von Berlepsch advised her she had too much staff so she reduced them to twenty-four and he authorized the money.

On 10 April 1569 her daughter Emilia was born.

William repeatedly asked her to return to him, but she publicly destroyed any correspondence he sent her. Finally, she agreed to meet with him in Mannheim, but they remained separated from each other.

In 1570, her uncle assigned Jan Rubens, a Flemish refugee, to her household to maintain the financial purse strings. This enraged Anna, so in May 1570, with Jan Rubens in tow, she left to speak to her uncle in person. She left her children in the care of Rubens's wife. During their journey, Anna seduced Jan, sleeping with him frequently.

Jan Rubens
To avoid the scandal of having her affair and pregnancy by Jan known, she moved her household to the country castle in Siegen.

Gossip of Anna's indiscretion soon reached William and his brother, Count Johann VI. Johann arrested and imprisoned Rubens in Dillenburg Castle. Despite her obvious pregnancy, Anna denied any wrongdoing. She rejected the accusations vehemently. William presented her with Jan Rubens' signed confession. Anna broke down, begging William to execute them both, which was the common penalty for infidelity in such circumstances.

On 22 August 1571, while at Castle Siegen, she gave birth to the daughter fathered by Jan Rubens and named her Christina von Dietz. Weary of her unpredictable personality, her infidelity, and her unpopularity with his family and the public, William refused to acknowledge Christina as his own. He declared his marriage to Anna annulled and forthwith removed his and Anna's children to Dillenberg. They never saw their mother again.

In October 1572, Anna and her illegitimate child moved to the German Castle Beilstein. It was here that the first serious signs of madness became apparent.
When infuriated, she attacked her staff. After her meals, the staff removed and secreted away all the knives. Preachers delivered sermons to her twice a week in her room. However, her violent outbursts, hallucinations, and filthy talk grew worse. She even claimed to have killed her own children.

She was held in custody until 1575, when her uncle the elector of Saxony brought her home to Dresden on December 22, 1576. Her madness worsened. In Dresden, her uncle confined her in two rooms and sealed the windows with bricks. She spoke deliriously, nonsensical, shaking and foaming at the mouth.

Her uncle assigned two men to her protect her female staff from Anna's violent outbursts. One of the men reported that Anna had attacked him with knives and was "raging and foolish as if she were possessed". Her hallucinations and violent outbursts worsened. Her uncle removed Christina from her care and sent her to William to raise her with her half-siblings.

In 1577, William exiled Jan Rubens and he returned to his wife and had another child who became the famous painter Peter Paul Rubens.

Anna lived out the remaining year of her life Dresden. She died on 18 December 1577 at the age of thirty-three.

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