Friday, September 18, 2015

On the Edges of Hell: Rose of the Cimerron

She was called the "Rose of the Cimarron" due to her love of riding around the river of that name. One of the advantages of life in the west was the tendency to allow more freedom to girls on farms and ranches. Many a daughter or wife could ride, shoot and run a spread with the same ease as her male counterparts. 

Rose  Dunn was born in about 1879 and was the youngest of ten, daughter of William H. Dunn and Sarah C. Brenner Dunn. Several of her brothers were considered some of the worst outlaws of early day Oklahoma by U.S. Deputy Marshal Charles F. Colcord.
One of the Western Advantages was more freedom

Her brothers Bill, Dal, Calvin and George ran as a gang and had dealings with both the law and the outlaws (the Doolin and Dalton gangs) in the wild 1890's.  

She and her brothers lived around Ingalls. Some indicate that they had all come down from Kansas. Another source claims that Bill, and his brothers, were working one of the big cattle spreads in the region pre-Land Run.  When the Land was set to be opened for settlement the U.S. President ordered all the cattle combines and spreads to vacate.  That meant 'pink slips' for the cowboys. Many went west and northwest and some to Texas or New Mexico. Some stayed put and became the noted outlaws of the badlands in and around Oklahoma and Indian Territories.

Ingalls would be the site of a notorious gun battle between outlaws and U.S. Marshals, leaving several dead and forever marking the town and the people involved in the pages of western historical lore. Rose in her teen or early adult years became infatuated with one of the members of the gang her brothers hung with - George "BitterCreek" Newcomb. It was time when everyone had a nickname or outlaw label. In the early 1890's Rose was an almost mascot of the group, with most thinking highly of her for her looks or her spirit or her kindness to them. 

During the 'Ingalls Gunfight battle', September 1, 1893, she is said to have faced flying bullets to take a replacement Winchester to her idol Newcomb.  This was not true. When all settled, she married and moved far away to leave behind her the days as the alleged "Rose of the Cimarron".  

Note, although a popular photograph is often used and labeled with her name, it is believed to be a fake.  The image, showing a young woman in a striped dress holding a revolver, was said to have been made under the direction of U.S. Deputy Marshall Bill Tilghman, in an attempt to shield the true identity of Rose and help her make a new start.

Many of the outlaws of the Ingalls Battle were known to have frequented some of the dens and houses in Hell's Half Acre.  Many of the lawmen had walked its streets helping to keep peace.  Just another indication of the way "Hell" had a tendency to seep out into surrounding areas.

Rose Dunn aka "Rose of the Cimarron", along with "Cattle Annie", "Little Britches", Jessie Findley (Finley), and Flora Quick Mundis aka Tom King would fill dramatically the void left by the mysterious murder of Belle Starr in 1889 near Eufaula.  A fascinating page of truly unique history...found in Oklahoma...on the fringes of "Hell."

 Bonus: Her story inspired this classic and lovely song from Poco.

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