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July 18
2009 - Two killed in crash of experimental plane in Sand Canyon [NTSB report]


Take a Hike | Commentary by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
| Sunday, Oct 11, 2015

DianneErskineHellrigelLaura Bullion was born in October 1876, most probably on the 4th, and died Dec. 2, 1961. She was a well-known outlaw of the American Old West.

In the 1880s, Laura was a member of Butch Cassidy’s famous Wild Bunch Gang. She rode with the Sundance Kid, Black Jack Ketchum and Kid Curry, among others.

Ben Kilpatrick, aka the “Tall Texan,” was her romantic interest. Ben was a train and bank robber and a friend of Laura’s father, Henry Bullion. He was a Native American outlaw most probably from Texas, although some historians place him in Kentucky and in Arkansas, as well.

The 1900 census suggests Laura was born on a farm in Faulkner County, Ark. The 1880 Census shows the Henry Bullion family from Kentucky.

Laura Bullion was the most notorious woman in the Wild Bunch. She was brave and willing to do anything, including robbery. She was “The Rose of the Wild Bunch.”

In addition to robbery, she also worked as a prostitute for a short time, until she was 17. But it is believed she fell back on this trade when she wasn’t running with her gang and robbing banks and trains. In 1901, on her arrest document, she listed her profession as “prostitute.”

laurabullion_mugshotsIn 1901, “Della Rose, or The Thorny Rose” as she was called, was convicted of participating in the Great Northern train robbery and sentenced to five years in prison, but she was released after only 3-½ years. In the arrest report for the robbery, Chief of Detectives Desmond said: “I wouldn’t think helping to hold up a train was too much for her. She is cool, shows absolutely no fear, and in male attire would readily pass for a boy. She has a masculine face, and that would give her assurance in her disguise.”

Laura helped the Butch Cassidy gang by fencing stolen items, making sure they had a steady supply of horses, forging documents, laundering money, taking part in robberies dressed as a young boy, and forging bank notes. She also was in charge of holding onto the horses during a robbery. Those horses were crucial to a successful getaway.

She floated back and forth between lovers Ben Kilpatrick and William Carver. Carver was killed by the law in 1901 and Kilpatrick was killed in 1912 while robbing a train. At the time she was involved with at least four other men.

laurabullion_gravemarkerAfter her stint in jail, she moved to Memphis and posed as a war widow, using multiple assumed names, one of which was Freda Bullion Lincoln. She claimed to be the widow of Maurice Lincoln, and she also claimed to be 10 years younger than she really was. Other aliases she used commonly were Clara Hays, Clare Hayes, Clara Hayes, Desert Rose, Wild Bunch Rose and Clara Casey.

She worked as a seamstress, a householder, a drapery maker and an interior decorator up to 1940. She died in 1961 of heart disease and is buried at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis.

The names Freda Buillion Lincoln, Laura Bullion and The Thorny Rose are all listed on her headstone, which is embossed with rose vines along the border.

She was the last surviving member of the Wild Bunch.

 

 

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is executive director of the Community Hiking Club and president of the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy. Contact Dianne through communityhikingclub.org or at zuliebear@aol.com.

 

laurabullion_wantedposterlaura4

 

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6 Comments

  1. I love these pieces of history you all post. Thanks 😊

  2. I’m surprised Hollywood has not made a movie about this ..

  3. Tandy Bichon Tandy Bichon says:

    What is her connection to Santa Clarita?

  4. keep more like this comming

  5. This has movie written all over it!

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