Rose Dunn

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For many years, many believed that the woman on this photo was Rose Dunn. Actually, she was a prisoner who posed to illustrate a story about the Rose of the Cimarron.[1]

Rose Elizabeth Dunn (September 5, 1878 – June 11, 1955), also known as Rose of Cimarron and later Rose of the Cimarron[2], was best known for her good looks and for her romantic involvement with outlaw George "Bittercreek" Newcomb when she was a teenager during the closing years of the Old West.

Early life[edit]

Rose Dunn was born near Ingalls, Oklahoma. Her family was poor, but she received a formal education at a convent in Wichita, Kansas. Dunn's two older brothers became minor outlaws by the time she was 12. She learned to ride, rope and shoot from her brothers. Through them, she met and became involved romantically[citation needed] with George Newcomb circa 1893, when she was either 14 or 15 years of age.

George "Bittercreek" Newcomb[edit]

Dunn met and became involved romantically with George "Bittercreek" Newcomb around 1893. The gang that Newcomb ran with worshipped her due to her good looks and her calm and kind demeanor, and were fiercely defensive of her, spawning her loyalty to them.

She was completely infatuated with Newcomb and began supporting Newcomb's outlaw life by venturing into town for supplies, as he was a wanted man and could not. Newcomb by that time was riding with the Wild Bunch gang led by famous outlaw Bill Doolin. Her brothers, however, had left the outlaw life and had become well-known bounty hunters, calling themselves the Dunn Brothers.

On September 1, 1893, the gang was cornered in Ingalls by a posse of U.S. Marshals, in what became known as the Battle of Ingalls, resulting in an intense shootout. A western legend has it that Newcomb was badly wounded, and while he lay in the street, Rose Dunn is alleged to have run from the "Pierce Hotel" to his location with two belts of ammunition and a Winchester rifle. She fired the rifle at the Marshals while Newcomb reloaded his revolvers, and Newcomb was able to escape. However, that account has never been verified, and was never mentioned by the US Marshal official report, which indicated that Newcomb at best fired two shots then fled.

Three Deputy Marshals were killed during the shootout. Newcomb and Charley Pierce were wounded but escaped. Gang member "Arkansas Tom" Jones was slightly wounded and captured by Deputy Marshal Jim Masterson. Together with Newcomb and other members of the gang, Rose Dunn hid out for at least two months nursing the remaining gang members back to health.

By 1895, Newcomb had a $5,000 bounty placed on him, dead or alive. Newcomb and Charley Pierce began hiding out near Norman, Oklahoma, both of them having been wounded in a gunbattle with US Marshals. On May 2, 1895, the Dunn Brothers shot and killed both Newcomb and Pierce as they dismounted in front of the Dunn house to visit Rose. The brothers collected the bounty, believed to have been $5,000 each.

Later life[edit]

After the killing of "Bittercreek" Newcomb, Rose Dunn was often accused of having set him up, revealing to her brothers where the outlaws were hiding. She denied this, and her brothers later defended her, stating that she had no knowledge of their intentions, nor did she reveal the hideout to them. She was never prosecuted for her involvement with the gang. Her short outlaw life launched her to the level of western legend. In 1898 she married local politician Charles Albert Noble, and sometime after 1900 (a census year), they left Oklahoma and all outlaw associations behind them. Charles Noble died in 1930 and she married Richard Fleming (whom she first met when 16)[3] in 1946. She died at the age of 76 in Salkum, Washington.[4]

In Popular Culture[edit]

The name Rose of Cimarron (not that of Rose Dunn) first came to popular attention with the publication of Bill Tilghman's booklet Oklahoma Outlaws[5]

The film Rose of Cimarron is very loosely inspired by Rose Dunn. Despite the lead characters being called Rose of Cimarron and George Newcomb, the plot bears no resemblance to Dunn's actual life beyond an ambivalent relationship with the law and outlaws.

The 1976 single Rose of Cimarron by Poco was inspired by an Oklahoma tourist leaflet read by band member Rusty Young in 1973.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rutter, Michael (2008). Bedside book of bad girls : outlaw women of the Old West. Helena: Farcountry Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-1-56037-535-7. OCLC 957165196.
  2. ^ "Who is Rose of Cimarron?". True West Magazine. 2005-05-01. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
  3. ^ "Who is Rose of Cimarron?". True West Magazine. 2005-05-01. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
  4. ^ "Find a Grave".
  5. ^ "Who is Rose of Cimarron?". True West Magazine. 2005-05-01. Retrieved 2019-04-07.

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