Saturday, March 28, 2009

What She Did for Love...Bad Girls of the Wild West

We've all seen them on TV and in the movies - the good girl always falls for the bad guy. Happens every time. We like our bad boys, our gunslingers, our mavericks. And in the Old West, bad boys were a dime a dozen! How was a girl to choose?
I was researching some famous outlaws and found plenty of stories about Bad Girls. We don't hear about them too much, and Hollywood likes to show them as half-hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold to vengeance seekers. But what if a lady just wanted to be...well, bad? Rose Dunn fits the bill - although, unlike her male counterparts, she ended up pretty darn ok.

The Rose of Cimarron - The Legend of Rose Dunn

Pretty Rose Dunn or The Rose of Cimarron, met dashing George "Bitter Creek" Newcomb, a member of the notorious Doolin Gang, through her brothers, who were also outlaws and thieves. She grew up among bad boys, who were responsible for a series of bank, train and stage robberies during 1891-1896. The Doolin Gang were ruthless and often murdered innocent bystanders. They sometimes teamed up with the Daltons, made famous by their association with the James Gang.
When Grat and Bob Dalton were killed in a bloody ambush in Coffeeville, Kansas in 1892 while trying to pull off a bank robbery, the remainder of the gang scattered. What was left of the Dalton gang eventually merged with Bill Doolin's gang, which included outlaw George Newcomb. The reassembled gang of ruthless thieves and murderers began a new siege of terror.
It was about this time that the Rose of Cimarron came into the picture. Members of a posse intent upon arresting the gang kept close watch. They concealed themselves in a wagon and rode into the town of Ingalls, Oklahoma. The posse members hid themselves along the street and sent a messenger into the saloon to tell Bill Doolin that he was surrounded and ordered him to surrender. Doolin's response was, "Go to hell".
Gunfire opened up from the saloon upon the posse. A hail of bullets ensued, and the frightened townspeople all ran for cover. It was here that the Rose of Cimarron performed her daunting act of courage. Rose peered down from the second floor of Mrs. Pierce's hotel into the street and saw that her lover had only his six-shooter for protection.
She got his Winchester and cartridge belt from the hotel room, intending to deliver it to him. But the posse had surrounded the hotel and there was no means of escape. Rose tore a bed sheet into strips, tied them together into a rope and lowered both herself and the weaponry to the ground.
Rose took a gamble that the posse wouldn't shoot a woman. Through a hail of gunfire, she ran across the street to deliver the weapon to her lover. She found Newcomb badly wounded, so she gave the rifle to another outlaw. With Dalton and Doolin providing cover, the injured Newcomb was taken to safety. Only one outlaw, who was sick in bed, was the only one captured that day. The rest of the outlaws escaped, with many of them seriously wounded.
George had a price on his head, and unfortunately, some time later, Rose's outlaw brothers shot her lover for the reward money. After her lover's death, Rose retired from crime, and became the wife of an Oklahoma politician and lived the rest of her life as a respected citizen.

Historical information taken from Wild Women of the Old West by Glenda Riley and Richard Etulain.


Linda LaRoque said...

Wonderful info, Anna. I'd heard the name Rose of Cimmaron but not the tale. Sure would make a good novel. Married a polititian, huh? Interesting.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

Sounds like a great plot idea for a western romance. Rose must have had something really going for her to wed a politician and gain respectability. Interesting, Anna.

Celia Yeary said...

Dear Anna--what a good topic, and Rose of Cimmaron was the perfect choice as an example. I seem to recall an old western with a song--"The Rose of Cimmaron." It might be fun to Google it and see what you find. I had to chuckle a little--our Family Ministry young woman taught a weekday class for young mothers titled "Bad Girls of the Bible." Along with the free baby-sitting, this topic drew quite a crowd! Bad girls, bad boys-you gotta love 'em-Celia

Paty Jager said...

Great story, Anna!

Tanya Hanson said...

hi Anna, great post...thanks for the info and the resource book, too.

Wow, marrying a politician after all that LOL. I had ancestors in Coffeyville Kansas and hope to research them someday.


Lauri said...

Neat story, Anna! Thanks for sharing!

Cameron said...

So! Rose went from one crook to another. Sorry, I just couldn't resist that one! For those of you interested in a version of the song "Rose of Cimmaron" check out Emmylou Harris' album "Cimmaron".