Rose of Cimarron

Sometimes teens in the old West, just as today, had some wild oats to sow. You just never think about girls doing it back in the 1880s. Yet, this one became famous for it.

Rose Ella Dunn was born Sept. 5, 1878 in Indian Territory at Ingalls, Oklahoma. She was the only girl among five brothers. That was probably the problem right there. They taught her to ride, rope, and shoot. The boys had formed their own outlaw gang by the time she was just twelve years old. I’m not sure what their parents must’ve thought of that.

A few years passed and when she was fourteen or fifteen, her brothers introduced her to outlaw George “Bittercreek” Newcomb.

She became very infatuated and Bittercreek called her his Rose of Cimarron. She was very striking and had a kind demeanor. Bittercreek was a member of the Doolin/Dalton gang and they were extremely protective of her.

Rose would go into town for supplies and whatever the gang needed, plus bring back news. It was a good system.

For some reason, maybe they got religion or something, her brothers disbanded their gang and started bounty hunting, having pretty good success–given as how they knew most the gangs and how they operated. I’m sure that made everyone on the lawless side a bit nervous.

On September 1, 1893, the gang was in the saloon in Ingalls, Oklahoma when they found themselves surrounded by a posse of U.S. marshals. A hail of bullets rained down on them. The outlaws exchanged fire and made a run for it.

Bittercreek was struck down in the street but managed to pull himself to cover. Rose watched it all from a nearby hotel, filled with horror. She ran to him with two belts of ammunition and a Winchester rifle and hunkered down next to him.

(That’s George Bittercreek Newcomb on the right.) No prize for sure.

Rose fired the Winchester at the marshals while Bittercreek loaded his revolvers. Finally, with her help he was able to escape.

Three deputy marshals lay dead. On the gang side, several were badly shot up. Rose hid out with them, nursing them back to health.

By 1895 Bittercreek had a $5,000 bounty on his head and was wanted DEAD OR ALIVE. That caught the attention of her brothers. Loyalty didn’t amount to much when that much money was involved.

The next time they came to visit at the house, the brothers were waiting. They shot Bittercreek and the outlaw with him as they dismounted, killing them both.

Rose was never prosecuted for her involvement with the gang and her life of crime ended. She married a local politician until her death at the age of 76. I could find no record of any children.

So, was she just a rebellious teenager? Or an outlaw? She certainly had some good teachers in her brothers. Let’s have a discussion.


Rose of Cimarron — 12 Comments

  1. Good morning Linda- Great article. Wow that’s a hard question. Rose was a little if both, a rebellious teenager, but I do think the Outlaw bug bit her. She was responsible fir her own actions, so I guess I might venture to Jean toward Outlaw, but was just lucky enough not to be persecuted. Bittercreek definitely had an influence in her. Have a great writing week. Love you.

    • Good morning, Tonya…….I think a lot of Rose’s problem was that she didn’t have strong parents. I couldn’t find out a lot about them. They seem non-existent. And her brothers sure didn’t set a very good example! They contributed a lot to the problem. Have a great week.

      Much love and hugs!

  2. Rose’s heart did not see anything about Bittercreek but her love for him. The lifestyle was exciting and brought her the thrill of danger. Her brothers had prepared her well for all of it.
    Another historical story from your research for us to chew on, Linda. Thank you.

    • Good morning, Jerri…….She was sure in love with Bittercreek. Or at least thought she was. I’m sure all of that contributed to her outlaw ways. Thank goodness, she escaped jail time. That must’ve been really close. I was glad to bring this piece of history to you.

      Much love and hugs!

  3. I honestly feel she was just living her circumstances and given who she grew up with she could have been a much worse person. I’m sure when she shot the marshal she just looked at it as she was only protecting the man she loved. The stupid things we do for the men we love. Where’s the picture with Bittercreek? I’m only seeing the pic with Rose and her dog. Great blog and I guess she didn’t live a life that needed kids but it does make you wonder how she avoided getting pregnant, maybe she just couldn’t.

    • Hi Stephanie………..Maybe you need to refresh your screen? I have three pictures on this blog and his is on the right side of the page. His looks do not commend him. He kinda looks like a worm. Yes, we do stupid things for the men we love. Rose’s environment was certainly not the best and her brothers were wild so not good examples. It was odd that I found nothing about her parents. Maybe they had died, leaving Rose in her brothers’ care. I don’t know. Sometimes history has gaps in it and you don’t get the whole picture.

      Much love and hugs!

  4. I seriously doubt that Rose ever intended to break the law. She fell in love with George and got caught up in the activities of the gang. Sort of like Bonnie and Clyde. Bonnie wasn’t a bad person but she loved Clyde and would do anything to please him and to be with him. I don’t know. Maybe some part of these women liked the danger and excitement, kind of like women who ride with biker gangs. Interesting post, sister. I love the name George gave her.

    • Hi Sister……I’m sure you’re right. You can probably relate to her a lot, given your love for Rick. I think you would’ve been just like Rose in a shootout. And you’re right. Some women loved the danger and excitement. Glad you enjoyed my post. I, too, liked Rose of Cimarron.

      Much love and hugs!

  5. Fascinating story! She crossed the line from rebellious teenager to outlaw. Love makes us do crazy things! I bet she severed her relationship with her brothers after they shot the man she loved.

    • Hi Cheryl……Love does make us do crazy things. You’re probably right about Rose severing her ties with her brothers. I still wonder where her parents were through all this. Strange.

      Have a blessed day!

  6. Great story and I think she was a little of both rebellious teenager and an outlaw. Her brothers just help her out with the outlaw. She had to sew her wild oaks like that always said. Maybe if her parents were a little strick with her she may have not been that way.

    • Hi Quilt Lady…….Thanks for coming. I wasn’t able to find out anything about her parents. Where were they? Why didn’t they step in? Or had they died and left Rose in her brothers’ care? Too many unanswered questions.

      Much love and hugs!