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Born in Knickerbocker, Texas around 1876 to a German mother and a Native American father, she met outlaws William Carver and Ben “The Tall Texan” Kilpatrick when she was just a teenager. 

Knickerbocker was a haven of outlaws and Laura’s own father was a bank robber, so it came as no surprise when the young girl followed a life of crime. When she was just 15 years-old she began a romance with Will Carver, who had been married to her aunt until she had recently died. Carver often worked with Black Jack Ketchum robbing trains before he moved on to Utah and hooked up with Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch, where Laura ultimately ended up too. 

Somewhere along the line, Laura transferred her affections to Ben Kilpatrick, who cast his lot with the Wild Bunch in 1898. Laurie Bullion often helped the gang by fencing goods and money for them and was known to the group as Della Rose and often called the “Rose of the Wild Bunch.”

Having taken part in several train robberies with the Wild Bunch, Kilpatrick and Bullion returned to Texas with William Carver, where Carver was ambushed and killed by lawmen on April 1, 1901. Bullion and Kilpatrick then fled to to St. Louis, Missouri, where they were arrested on November 8, 1901. Kilpatrick was found guilty of robbery and sentenced to 15 years in prison, while Laura was sentenced to five. 

After serving 3 1/2 years, Laura was released from the Missouri State Penitentiary at Jefferson City, Missouri, on September 19, 1905 and lived the last years of her life in Memphis, Tennessee, under the name of Freda Lincoln, making her way as a seamstress and a dressmaker. She passed away on December 2, 1961 and is buried in Memphis under a tombstone that reads, “Freda Bullion Lincoln—Laura Bullion—The Thorny Rose.” 

She never saw her lover Ben Kilpatrick again. Kilpatrick, on the other hand, was released from prison in June, 1911 and immediately returned to a life of crime. While trying to rob a Southern Pacific express near Sanderson, Texas , on March 13, March, 1912, he was killed with an ice mallet.

Source: Legends of America

Women’s History Magazine



{November 4, 2009}   Legends of America – Rose Dunn

Rose Dunn met George “Bitter Creek” Newcomb, a former member of the Dalton Gang before their demise in Coffeyville, Kansas, through her outlaw brothers. In 1893, Newcomb became a member of the Doolin Gang, and it was somewhere around this time that he met Rose Dunn, often referred to as “the Rose of Cimarron,” through her outlaw brothers. The Doolin Gang terrorized Indian Territory for two years as they robbed banks, stagecoaches and trains in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

On the afternoon of September 1, 1893, while several members of the gang were holed up in George Ransom’s saloon in Ingalls, Oklahoma they were involved in a gun battle with U.S. marshals. After the lawmen surrounded the saloon demanding that the outlaws surrender, Doolin’s response was, “Go to hell.” As the guns began to blast and a hail of bullets flew, the frightened townspeople ran for cover.

Dunn, who was staying at Mrs. Pierce’s hotel allegedly ran through the raining bullets in order to deliver a Winchester rifle to her lover. The battle left nine people killed or wounded, including one deputy who died immediately and another two, who died of their wounds the next day. Three of the outlaws, including Rose’s boyfriend, were wounded and Arkansas Tom Jones was captured.

By May 1895, Newcomb had a $5,000 reward on his head and when he and Charley Pierce stopped to see Rose, her outlaw brothers turned them in for the reward and he was shot and killed by lawmen.

After her George Newcomb’s death, Rose retired from crime, became the wife of an Oklahoma politician and lived the rest of her life as a respected citizen.

More Legends of America

Women’s History Magazine



{September 19, 2009}   Wild Women of the West

Whether she was addressed as Madame or Ma’am, Señorita or Squaw, a woman needed guts to live out West. The ‘weaker sex’ encountered savage, brutal and obnoxious obstacles (and these were just the men!), not to mention mean ol’ Mother Nature and a plague or two. Or three. 

In spite of these barriers, or maybe because of them, the American frontier attracted legions of nonconforming women–mavericks, loners, eccentrics and adventurers. And through it all they kept their sense of humor: ‘I’ve got 350 head of cattle and one son,’ said a widowed ranchwoman. ‘Don’t know which was harder to raise.’

In the case of the ‘boat people’ (immigrants from Europe) who ventured out West, the women were typically cut off from family, friends, their native culture and the ‘protective strictures’ of Eastern society. Some were crushed by the experience, others survived and more than a few thrived. 

Of course, many of the so-called wild women were already in the Wild West and lived on the plazas and in the wigwams, hogans and teepees up and down the canyons and across the Great Plains. Among both the natives and newcomers were plenty of feisty women who weren’t afraid to mix it up with anyone, man or beast. As a modern leader put it, ‘No country, no culture, no people will ever rise above the standards of its women’….


Like their male counterparts on the frontier, the early female arrivals were rugged individualists who angled west to gain the cherished privilege of being left alone to do what they pleased. And often as not, ‘doing what they pleased’ was a nice way of saying they were women of easy virtue. A Forty-Niner’s poem sums up the early arrivals to California:

The miners came in ‘49,
The whores in ‘51,
And when they got together
They produced the native son.


Many women who came West were trying to escape their past. Others saw too many restrictions in Eastern society and wanted to create a future in this new land of opportunity. All were hoping against hope, and many had nothing to lose.

Source – HistoryNet.com

Women’s History Magazine



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