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Calamity Joe Pt. II


If you were listening yesterday, you learned about Calamity Joe, or Joseph Meyer, who lived and occasionally raised Cain in the Wild West.

However, Joe Meyer was also something of a family man. He married Mathilda Eberhart in 1901. In 1902, he settled his new family along the Little Missouri River and ranched, raising cattle and horses. In 1915, he moved his family to Hebron for a few years, but returned again to the ranch and the badlands.

In the meantime, the man the New York Times once called “one of the most feared of the desperadoes in the West” also joined forces with preservationists. In 1930, he consulted with the Game and Fish Commission in Bismarck regarding a herd of approximately 75 antelope located near his ranch. They mainly stayed on several thousand acres he had established as a game preserve.

The Bismarck Tribune stated that “Mr. Meyer declares his antelope are the last remaining in the state, and points out the value of protecting them until the time they may be placed in a national park.”

In 1936, Joe Meyer moved his family to Beach, North Dakota. While there, Calamity Joe periodically published some history in the Golden Valley News, derived from his adventures—including comments on the battle of Little Big Horn. He said he got his knowledge of the account from several different American Indians who had taken part in the fighting, stating “I was not in the neighborhood at the time.”

Calamity Joe lived out the rest of his years in Beach. He died on May 24, 1943, in the Jamestown hospital from heart trouble. Funeral services were in Beach. But a spirit such as he had, with such a colorful past, lingers. He had ties to many different communities across the region, and they all felt the loss of this living history.

The Hebron Herald published information on his life on this date, reminding residents of Hebron what life was like when the West was young, stating: “Calamity Joe Meyer got his name in pioneer days by bringing calamity to everyone in general. He was never known as a bad man, but just the opposite, and his life in this western country was ripe with elicit adventure.”

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker

The Hebron Herald, June 10, 1943, p1
The Bismarck Tribune, Tuesday, August 26, 1930, p6
April 15, 1937, The Golden Valley News, p6
1885-1985 Hebron, ND
Young Glen Ullin, by Jack Curtis