The Rose of Cimarron


Writing a series about outlaws has opened my eyes a bit concerning the oddities I sometimes find hidden way back in history. It’s been fun and very interesting.

Sometimes teens in the old West, just as today, had some wild oats to sow. Yet, you 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.

The striking beauty with a kind demeanor became very infatuated and Bittercreek called her his Rose of Cimarron. 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. Knowing most of the gangs and how they operated, they had quite a bit of success. I’m sure the brothers switching horses mid-stream must’ve made everyone on the lawless side just a tad 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.

Rose fired the Winchester at the marshals while Bittercreek loaded his revolvers. Finally, 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 innocently caught up in something over her head? Or was she truly an outlaw and in it all the way? Have you ever been caught up in something you really wanted no part of and then couldn’t figure a way out?

I’m giving away two $10 Amazon gift cards in a drawing on Sunday.

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Here in the Texas Panhandle, we do love our cowboys. There's just something about a man in a Stetson and jeans that makes my heart beat faster. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy and I'm a bit of a rock hound. I'm also a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical western romance. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. HAPPY READING!

77 thoughts on “The Rose of Cimarron”

  1. Good morning Linda, great blog. What a great history lesson right in my front yard basically. I think she was an outlaw by default, she did what she had to do to survive.
    Love you, I’m heading out now to drive 1/2 way across Kansas today!

    • Good morning, sister friend! You were sure up early. Rose Dunn must’ve been star-struck is all I can figure. I don’t think the gravity of what she was doing really hit her until later years. I hope that’s the case anyway. Her brothers were low-life’s and provided no role model. I hope you stay safe today. Love you dearly.

    • Good morning, Denise…..It seems that way to me too. Lord knows her brothers provided little example of how to live a good life and since there was no mention of her parents, maybe they were not nice people either. If they minded gangs of outlaws hanging around their home and daughter they would’ve stopped it. Have a beautiful day and stay warm!

  2. Such a interesting blog and bit scary of how things was. She was a tough young lady for sure. Thanks again for great history lesson and have a blessed day.

    • Good morning, Kristi……Thank you for coming. I’m so happy to see you. Rose was tough, no doubt about it, thanks to her low-life brothers who had few morals. I feel sorry for Rose in a way. She was so young. Glad you enjoyed reading about her. Stay warm up there!

    • Good morning, Glenda…..Thank you for coming. I do hope you’re feeling better. Rose is very hard to figure out and you certainly cannot overlook her age. Teens hardly ever make good decisions. I’m glad she straightened herself out. Blessings and love.

  3. With examples like that, how could she have been anything but an outlaw -or for the very least get infatuated with one?

    As for her brothers, they may have simply figured that bounty hunting was a bit more certain and slightly less risky way to make money than robbing people. At least by being bounty hunter you weren’t on the wrong side of the law and risk ending up in prison or on the wrong end of a rope. I remember reading that in the wild West there necessarily wasn’t all that much difference between a lawman and a criminal, particularly when a criminal could very well be the one who is supposedly upholding the law.

    • Good morning, Minna! I’m so happy to see you. You’re really getting this outlaw kind of life down pretty good. You’re right about how easily it was for men to cross over from outlaw to lawman and vice versa. Having few ways of communication played a huge role in that. Townspeople needing some law had no way to check on anything. Rose never really had a chance. Her brothers were scum and it seems her parents must’ve turned a blind eye or else didn’t care about her at all. Kinda sad. I hope you have a beautiful day and stay warm. 🙂

  4. Since she actively participated in the shoot out with the Marshall I think she was all in with the outlaws. She could have stayed inside the hotel instead.
    She sure sounds like an interesting character!

    • Good morning, Janie…..It still boggles my mind how she escaped some kind of punishment for helping the gang in that shootout. And like you pointed out she clearly wanted to participate. And yet, I feel sorry for her. She clearly had no role models and from what I can tell from the articles I found her parents didn’t care much about her. They had to have seen the scummy gang around their place. I wonder why they didn’t try to keep Rose away from them? In any event, she was interesting as you pointed out. Have a blessed day and stay warm! 🙂

  5. good morning, im going to disagree, and say she was more of the caretaker, she gathered the supplies from town,told the group what news was around town.she cooked,tended to wounds. just saying, if she wasn’t prosecuted for her involvement,she wasn’t a outlaw. just an innocent bystander

    • Good morning, Elaine….I’m so glad you came over. You give us a different perspective. I hope you’re right. I’d really like to believe she was a bystander and not an active participant. She was definitely interesting. I hope you have a blessed day filled with love. Stay warm!

  6. Maybe it just became an adrenaline rush to her. When I was a teenager, I got caught up in all sorts of bad stuff and mostly it was the thrill that kept me involved. But I was also in love with a bad boy and would do anything to please him too. So there could have been that factor too with Rose.

    • Good morning, Janine……You know, maybe that was it. She liked the rush it gave her. Some teens really have a hard time distinguishing between right and wrong and it’s clear she had no role models. I’m not sure where her parents were or if they even cared about her. I found no reference to them. And yes…bad boys. They certainly are a force to reckon with and a girl can be led astray before she even realizes. I was sure lacking in sound judgment at 14/15 years old. Have a beautiful day, my friend.

      • You made a good point here about not having role models and where we’re her parents. You have me curious about that too. I guess I will be doing some research too.

  7. wow seems to me since she was with her brothers she was a follower and no I have not ever been caught up in something beyond my control!

    • Good morning, Teresa…..Thank you for coming. I’m very happy to see you on this cold morning. Rose was such a mystery and hard to figure out why she would’ve hung out with outlaws. Maybe it was her young age and not able to make wise decisions. Possibly. I found myself in deep trouble when I was a teen so I can understand. I hope you have a wonderful day, Teresa. Stay warm and read a good book. 🙂

  8. I have been caught in things but nothing illegal just uncomfortable. I think she was caught up in her crush. They were good to her after all.

    • Good morning, Debra……I’m very happy to see you. Thanks for coming. A young girl’s crush is a powerful thing and you’re probably right. Maybe between that and the rush that came from hanging out with killers and bank robbers created the motivation for her actions. We’ll never know the real story. Have a good day, sweet lady.

  9. We still see kids who get themselves caught up in bad situations. Especially when they’re young and inexperienced it can be very hard to get out. Falling in love with the wrong kind of person also contributes. As far as Rose, it’s hard to say if she was an outlaw through and through, though shooting at the marshals certainly would make it appear that way.

    • Good morning, Jess! Wow, this is awesome having you in our discussion. Whatever Rose was she was certainly not boring. I’m sure a young girl of fourteen/fifteen would’ve seen hanging out with killers and robbers exciting. I find a whole lot of fault with her brothers. They were the scum of the earth. I hope you have a great writing day.

  10. She did what she had to do to survive, and I think she was in love, that only a teen could have, and didn’t know any better. Yes, she was an outlaw, but young love took over.

    • Good morning, Veda! I’m happy you came over to join in. Rose was definitely misguided and had no role models in her low-life brothers. I don’t know where her parents were. You have a good day. Love you.

  11. I think Rose got caught up with the wrong people. Lets face it about everyone loves a bad boy and that is what Bittercreek was. That why when Bittercreek was killed she straightened out and her life of crime ended. I think we all get caught up with the wrong people at sometime in our lives.

    • Good morning, Quilt Lady! I’m so happy you came. Great to see you. Oh yes, those bad boys are the ruination of a lot of girls. They’re irresistible. Rose was smitten and would’ve done anything he asked. I definitely got involved with the wrong people when I was in my rebellious teens and it was hard to break free. Have a lovely day!

  12. Loved the history lesson today! Just like watching a good western play out. Matters of the heart are had to gauge. Rose had feelings for Bittercreek to actually fight for his survival, and her’s. Can’t imagine what the relationship with her brothers was after they killed Bittercreek. Maybe she was relieved to eventually find a peaceful life in her new marriage. I guess my answer is wishy-washy. Ha! Loved the pictures too. Rose was a beauty. Have a great day Linda!

    • Good morning, Kathy…..Thank you for coming. All I know about Rose is that she was very lucky to have escaped prison time, rebellious teen or not. I wish they’d thrown her brothers in jail. They were nothing but scum. Enjoy your day, sweet lady. Love you!

  13. Welcome Linda. Wow this is a cool article. I love reading about these women of the west, weather on the side of the law or not. History is so rich. Sounds like she wasnt really an outlaw per say. But I wonder if that would be how the people back then saw it. No I have never been involved in something that I wanted no part in and couldnt figure a way out. Thank you for the give a way. Happy Tuesday.

    • Good morning, Lori…….I’m so happy you enjoyed reading about Rose. She intrigued me and I thought she might others. History is so full of things like this. You never know what you’ll find. I never get bored doing research. 🙂 Enjoy your day and stay warm!

    • Good morning, Cathy! Oh man, I was so stupid too. My parents kept me so sheltered I have no idea what the world was like and I jumped in with both feet. I paid the price. I hope you don’t dwell on it and put it behind you. Your past doesn’t have to be a life sentence. Enjoy your day!

  14. Thanks, Linda, for another great little snippet of history. I know it can be hard for young people to find their way and they can be easily influenced, and we’ve seen throughout history where a woman will “follow her man” places it seems judgement should have stopped her. But on the other hand violence or supporting it or those doing it isn’t a solution or way to live either. I don’t think I’ve ever been stuck in something that serious that I couldn’t figure a way out of. Thanks for the giveaway.

    • Good morning, Sally…….I’m so happy to see you. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. It definitely makes a person think. Those bad boys combined with youth sure isn’t a good recipe for success. Rose’s brothers must’ve been a piece of work. Definitely not role models. Enjoy your day!

    • Hi Colleen! How funny. Yes, I imagine you walked the straight and narrow! 🙂 Cops and preachers put a lot of stress on their kids. Thank you for coming. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

    • Hi Ellie, thanks for coming. I think Rose was an impressionable young lady who fell in love with a scoundrel. With her brothers for outlaws too she had little to judge herself by. Poor girl. I’m glad she turned herself around though.

  15. What a colorful story, Linda! I don’t know about Rose being an all-in outlaw, but diving into a gunfight to help her man shoot his way out definitely proves to me that her heart and loyalty lay with Bittercreek. How interesting that she ended up marrying a politician. I wonder if her loyalty to him was just as fierce.

    • Hi Karen, I wondered the same thing. I thought it odd that she married a politician. Maybe he got her out of the jam and was the reason she was never prosecuted. Hmmmm. Definitely something to think about.

  16. A great post today which gave me much insight into this history. I was never really involved in anything difficult except for helping family out which did I willingly did but went unappreciated.

    • Hi Pearl, thank you for coming. I’m happy you enjoyed my post. It sure gets you thinking. Yes, sometimes our helpfulness does sadly go unappreciated. Have a great evening.

  17. Wow, this is an Awesome History lesson, I loved reading it and learning of it! Thank you for making history so much fun and way better then what I remember from school, History was Not my favorite subject, but here I love it. I think she just had to survive and that’s how she knew how to, she did what she knew how to do it. Thank God I have not been in a situation where I have been caught up in something. Have a Great week. God Bless you.

    • Hi Alicia! Thank you for coming. I love history and it feeds my curiosity when I find a nugget like this that makes me think. It’s easy to put myself in her shoes. Her stupid brothers were certainly no help in guiding her. They were really a piece of work. I just wonder where her parents were. She needed someone to take her in hand. Blessings and love.

  18. What an interesting story! My first inclination is to call her an outlaw, especially since she jumped into the gunfight. But we can never really know another person’s thoughts and motivations, so maybe that isn’t a fair assessment. She certainly didn’t have any good role models to look up to. Maybe her perspective was super skewed if that kind of life was all she knew. It sure is interesting to ponder. I find it very intriguing that she married a politician. I wonder what kind of man he was? Thankfully, I have never been in a terrible situation like that.

    • Hi Christy, thanks for coming. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. Rose was such an interesting person and hard to figure out. Then you have to take young love into account. That’s powerful. She was way in over her head. Have a blessed evening.

  19. Hi Linda, what a great story. In some ways she was kinda like many of the kids of today where they get caught up in something and don’t know where to turn, particularly, since she had brothers like she did. Fantastic, colorful story of bygone years. Thanks for sharing. Hugs, P

    • Hi Phyliss, I really found this interesting. I feel sorry for her in a way. It seems she only wanted someone to care about her and was hungry for love. I had the same thought too. The kids who go shoot up a school or movie theater and spend the rest of their lives in prison. They don’t even realize what they did until after. Same thing.

  20. Interesting story! I’m going to say it was a little bit of both. She was so young when things started, I don’t think she really knew what was going on. Later, she was in so deep, and she cared so much, that she probably didn’t know how to get out. Even when her brothers changed, they went from one bad thing to something that was a bit better, but a lot of the bounty hunters were only one rung up the ladder from being a criminal, so it wasn’t like it was a truly respectable job. Since she later married a politician, she was still hanging around crooks, not that all politicians are, but a lot were!

    • Hi Trudy C! I agree that probably didn’t know what was what when she first started hanging around her brothers’ outlaws. But she had to know killing lawmen was wrong. Her brothers needed to be shot. I see nothing admirable about them. Money was all they cared about and they didn’t hesitate to trick their friends. Yes, politicians weren’t much better. Have a blessed day.

      • Oh, now I could go for that, too!! You should write them into a book and kill them off!! I’ve read two books by two different authors, one set in this time frame, one much earlier, that had characters I’d have killed off!! Yes, I agree, her brothers should have been killed instead of letting them become bounty hunters. Someone had to know what they’d been doing before. I read one book where an outlaw was pardoned by the Governor because he helped fight a range war, and said he’d change his ways. As long as he really did, fine, but what happened if he didn’t? I guess there were a lot of things like this back then.

  21. In the 1880’s and 90’s many 15 and 16 year old women/girls were married. ( My husband’s grandmother was one of them.) Many were school teachers having completed eighth grade and passed the state qualifications. A different time and perspective from what we have today. Rose probably thought of Bittercreek as her man even if he wasn’t her husband and she followed him. As for her politician husband, politicians weren’t always the most honest men in the community. Looking back over 100 years it is hard to know what people thought of her then. I would like to think she paid for her bad behavior in some way. Thanks for the history lesson.

  22. Huh, good question. I don’t know what I’d say about her. Maybe it was more the side of innocent but got involved and it was her family so she stayed. I haven’t really gotten into anything big I wish I wasn’t apart of but more committing to more than I can handle.

  23. What a fascinating story! It seems that she got caught up in the family business. Evidently, she cared for Bittercreek since she helped him escape. I bet she was devastated when her brothers killed him. I hope that she found happiness when she married.

    I have never done anything illegal, but I sure did some stupid things when I was young that fortunately did not have serious consequences.

    • Hi Cheryl C…….I’m so happy you came by. I think we all did some stupid things when we were teens. I did more than my share. Bad boys sure are quick to give girls lessons. HaHa!

  24. How interesting. They likely didn’t prosecute her because she was young, pretty, and a female. In addition, I am sure her brothers still had a bit of family loyalty and may have played down her part in it all. Rebellious teen? Maybe more of a youngest sibling wanting to be one of the “boys” and enjoying the thrill, romance, and power of it all. It is interesting she ended up with a politician.
    I did find myself in dicey situations overseas a few times. Innocent stupidity or lack of good judgement was primarily responsible. Rule number one was do not get involved in local politics. I was able to “hide” by going into a movie theater for a movie once when there was a political rally for the country’s president when I was in town. Other times I was able to keep a low profile or at least I tried to. Many of those who did not know me didn’t realize I was an American and I kept it that way.

    • Hi Patricia! Oh my, you lived an exciting life. It’s so easy to get mixed up in things if you’re not on your toes. I do hope Rose was happy with her politician but something tells me she only wanted him to get her out of the charges. But I could be wrong and hope I am. Love you, lady!

  25. Teens do not have fully developed brains. She can have a pass at that age and with her brothers’ influence. so when she was older, being an outlaw was on her.

    Never been caught up in something I really wanted no part of and then couldn’t figure a way out? Stayed out of most trouble by being honest and accepting my liability.

    Love your sharing history with us.

    • Dearest Jerri, thank you for coming. I’m happy to see you. Yes, history is still my thing. I can’t get enough. Hope you’re well and still reading. Love you, lady!

  26. I think that she lived how she was raised. Aren’t teen girls attracted to the bad boys anyway?!?! I’ve never been caught up in anything too bad but my kindness always tended to attract trouble for some reason. Great blog!

  27. I’d say she was an outlaw, but I do feel bad for the bad influence from her brothers’ younger days. Still, she could have made the same choices to leave that they did.

    Thankfully, I’ve never been caught up in anything too bad, but I think the choices you make along the way (for example, the friends you choose and the places you go) impact the situations you find yourself. If you make careful choices at each fork in the road, you’ll probably end up right in the end.

    • Hi Carrie, thanks for coming. In writing this post I was struck by how little times have changed. Kids today do some of the same stuff and get into so much trouble. School shootings for one. You do have to be very careful and have a good guide. I don’t think Rose had a good guide or anyone to care much about her. Blessings and love.

  28. I believe that she was in the middle deep up to her chin. Love does funny things to people. I myself have not been in anything like this.

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