Laura Bullion ~ The Rose of the Wild Bunch

Laura Bullion mug shot

The year of Laura Bullion’s birth in Knickerbocker, Texas is unknown. She gave several dates ranging from 1873 to 1887 during her lifetime, and researchers have been unable to pin down the exact date.

Knickerbocker, Texas was a haven for outlaws at the time, and her parents, Henry Bullion and Freda Byler, were known criminals. Laura was raised by her maternal grandparents, possibly is an attempt to keep her out of trouble, but that didn’t work out. She met many outlaws through her parents, including train robber Will Carver, who was married to her aunt, and her future lover Ben Kilpatrick, both of whom became members of the Wild Bunch.

Laura eventually ran away to San Antonio, where she found work in a saloon and used the name Della Rose. It was while working at this establishment, frequented by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, that she reestablished relationships with William Carver, who was now a widower, and the Ben Kilpatrick.

Ben Kilpatrick

When Kilpatrick joined the Wild Bunch in 1898, Laura went with him, becoming a working member of the gang. Laura helped in several train robberies, dressed as a man or boy. After the robberies, she helped fence the stolen items and help resupply the camp. No one suspected that the “young man” who’d taken part in the robbery was also the woman purchasing supplies and horses. Eventually the members of the Wild Bunch gave her a new moniker–the Thorny Rose of the Wild Bunch. She was truly one of the gang.

After a train robbery in Montana in 1901 (in which Laura was possibly disguised as a boy), she and Kilpatrick fled east. In November of that year, Pinkerton agents caught up to them. They arrested Kilpatrick, who refused to talk, so they went to his hotel room, where they found Laura heading out the door with a suitcase full of banknotes easily traceable to the train robbery. She and Kilpatrick were arrested and tried separately. Kilpatrick got 15 years in prison; Laura got 5. She was released after serving 3 1/2 years in 1905. Kilpatrick kept in contact with Laura by letter, and was released from prison in 1911. He was arrested shortly thereafter and extradited to Texas to face murder charges. The charges were dropped, but he was killed in a train robbery a year later.

The Wild Bunch. Front row, left to right: Harry Longabaugh, the Sundance Kid; Ben Kilpatrick, the Tall Texan; Robert Leroy Parker, Butch Cassidy. Back row: Will Carver and Harvey Logan, Kid Curry.

Laura disappeared after her release from prison, but resurfaced in Memphis, Tennessee in 1918. She worked as a seamstress and drapery maker. In the 1940s she became an interior designer. Laura Bullion died in 1961 of heart disease. She was the last surviving member of the Wild Bunch–and just think of how many people she sewed for who had no idea that she once robbed trains for a living!

 

Jeannie Watt has Winners!

Hi Everyone! Thank you so much for sharing your dream destinations with me. I truly enjoyed reading the replies and I’ve even added a few places to my own destination dream list after reading your posts. I’m having a wonderful trip (Virginia is beautiful!) and it’s the first time in a decade that I’ve traveled without my computer, which is why I’m posting from my phone for the first time ever.  So far, so good…I hope. 🙂

Now for the good news:

THE WINNERS of the $10 Amazon gift cards are:

Billye and Robin Dewolf!

Congratulations! I’ll be in touch.

Jeannie Watt has a Give Away!

Hey everyone! I’m traveling today. This will be my seventh time crossing the Mississippi, but who’s counting? My son and his wife live in Virginia and I’m very excited to visit them in their new home. Since I will be traveling and answering comments will be tricky, I’ve decided to do a giveaway! All you need to do to be eligible for one of two $10 Amazon gift certificates, is to tell me where you would like to visit. What is your dream destination? I can’t wait to hear! (The winner will be announced Sunday afternoon.)

Best wishes,

Jeannie

Wyoming’s Sheep Queen, Lucy Morrison Moore

Lucy Fellows was born in 1857 in Placer County California to gold seeking parents. At five years old, she traveled on a pack mule to Illinois, then back to Virginia City, Montana and Bannock, Idaho, both gold producing areas. Her parents then moved the family to Soda Springs, Idaho. Once there, Lucy’s father started a freight hauling business.

Luther Morrison was a family friend who accompanied the Fellows family to Soda Springs. He had traveled the Oregon trail at the age of 20 and served as an Idaho Territory legislator and ran a sheep operation. Despite the age difference–Luther was 44 and Lucy was 16 when they married–they had a great partnership. Over the next nine years, they had three daughters and grew their herd to 3,000 sheep.

The Morrisons moved to Wyoming Territory in 1881 with an infant, two very young daughters and 2,000 sheep. They wintered in the South Pass area, and while the family survived the brutal Wyoming winter, they lost all but 200 sheep. After that year they established a winter range and summer range and began rebuilding their bands.  They family, which eventually welcomed a boy, lived in a tent banked with dirt for four years. Lucy didn’t see another white woman for over five years, but she was a woman who enjoyed a nomadic life, and happily lived in a sheep wagon during the summer months and eventually in the cabin that Luther built during the winters.

Luther made the three-week roundtrip to Rawlings, 150 miles away, twice a year for supplies, leaving Lucy at home to deal with the small children and sheep. She was afraid of the Native Americans and when they would pass through the area, she would dot her and the children’s faces with flour and say they had smallpox. The Native Americans caught on after a number of bouts of “smallpox”, and told Lucy, in English, that she was a smart woman. After that, they left her alone.

Lucy was a Methodist and did not allow swearing or drinking in her home or in the sheep camps. Her children were taught to read and write and the older children went to private schools.

Luther died in 1898, leaving Lucy to run the sheep alone. At the time, she had 16 large bands of sheep, but halved the number in 1900. In 1902 she married one of her shepherds, Curtis Moore, a man who didn’t drink or curse. She gifted him a band of 1000 sheep, saying that it meant she married “a sheepman instead of a penniless shepherd.”

Lucy was involved in the range wars between the sheep and cattlemen. Sheep ranching boomed after 1897 and became Wyoming’s primary industry by 1910. There was no system for leasing of land, and cattlemen believed that sheep were ruining grazing by eating the grass too low to the ground. In 1897, Lucy’s horses were shot. In 1904, her son, Lincoln was shot. He lived, and Lucy offered a $3500 reward for the capture of the shooter. Eventually she hired a private detective to find the man, who was apprehended in Montana ten years after the shooting. The range wars continued and in 1909, three sheepmen were killed south of Ten Sleep, Wyoming. Lucy feared for her life, but she continued running sheep. By this time she was called The Sheep Queen of Wyoming by the locals, a title she first thought was derisive, but eventually came to love.

Lucy might have been a nomad at times, but she also enjoyed the finer things in life. She took her children to Europe, bought one of the first vehicles in Wyoming,  and eventually allowed the oil industry to lease land for derricks. She invested in land near Los Angeles and began to spend the winters in a sunnier climate while her son looked after the sheep.

An author, Caroline Lockhart, spend the summer of 1919 with Lucy in the sheep camps. She wrote a bestseller called The Fighting Shepherdess, loosely based on Lucy’s life, which was made into a movie by MGM in 1920.

Lucy suffered a stroke in 1930 and died in 1932 in Casper, Wyoming. Her husband sold the sheep operation and moved to California.

Cowgirls in the Kitchen – Jeannie Watt

Today I’m going to give you a recipe for one of my favorite flour-free, five-ingredient cookies. In the early 1970s my mom, who is a fantastic baker, was diagnosed with a wheat allergy. Ironically, we lived in wheat country—wheat fields to the doorstep. At that time, alternative flours were rare. We had pea flour (makes really bad cookies), corn flour (really grainy cookies) and not much else in the grocery stores in Moscow, Idaho. We focused on candy after her diagnosis, but every now and again we’d find a recipe for cookies that didn’t call for flour. These cookies are delicate, but delicious. Here’s the recipe:

Flour-free Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup creamy peanut butter (you can use chunky if you want)

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate chips are optional

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix the peanut butter and sugar. Add the egg, salt and vanilla. That’s it. You’re done, unless you want to add chocolate chips. I just wing that.

I put parchment paper on the cookie sheets, then form 1 tablespoon size balls and place them a couple inches apart. Use a fork to crisscross the cookies.

Bake for 10 minutes–no longer. You do not want to overbake. Let them cool completely on a rack before trying to handle them.

If you want, you can melt chocolate chips and frost the cookies, or just eat them as they are.

Pictured below are three varieties: chocolate chip peanut butter, chocolate frosted peanut butter and plain peanut butter.

Again, these are delicate, but delicious. I hope you try them. They’d be perfect to make with kids and grandkids.

Enjoy!

Jeannie Watt New Release and Give Away

I have a new release! The Cowgirl’s Homecoming is the third book in my sweet western romance series The Cowgirls of Larkspur Valley. Here’s the official blurb:

Could the cowboy next door…

Be what her heart truly wants?

When Whitney Fox returns home after being downsized, she accidently offends rancher Tanner Hayes—her dad’s neighbor. To make amends, she agrees to help him rehabilitate his ranch and reputation, and soon finds there’s more to the crusty cowboy than she’d thought. But when another corporate opportunity comes along, she has a decision to make: follow her head, or follow her heart and stay with Tanner?

And here’s an excerpt:

Whit woke up with a headache, which she attributed to Tanner Hayes smashing her car the day before. The crash hadn’t hurt her physically, but it had taken a mental toll. She’d tried to put the matter aside and get some sleep, but had woken up time and again wondering how much of an effect it would have on the asking price of her Audi. She was going to lose money. That was a given.

She rolled onto her back and flopped an arm over her face trying to think of something besides her smashed up Audi and the cowboy who’d done the damage. Lying in bed, begrudging reality, wasn’t helping matters. She pushed back the covers just as her dad rapped on the door.

“Whit?”

“Yeah, Dad?”

“I’d like to talk to you before I head out for the day.”

“I’ll be down in a minute.” She heard his footsteps receding down the hall and wondered at his tone. It was his get-to-the-bottom-of-things tone, but there was nothing for him to get to the bottom of, unless he’d seen her car and was wondering what had happened.

That was it. Protective father mode was probably kicking in. She’d simply explain that she’d seen no reason to burden him with the mishap when she’d returned home the previous evening. He’d been sleeping in his chair, and she’d retired to her bedroom to do a lot of mental math instead of sleeping.

She headed to the bathroom, showered, changed into her jeans and T-shirt, braided her hair into a single plait that was a touch shorter than the one she’d worn in high school, then headed to the kitchen to explain to her dad how her car had gotten damaged.

When she walked into the room, her dad had two mugs and a carafe of coffee on the table. He always made coffee, then poured it into a vacuum jug to keep it from getting bitter during the day. He loved his coffee, but this morning, he was staring morosely into his mug.

“Dad?”

He looked up and Whit became cognizant of a sinking sensation in her midsection. Before she could ask, he said, “What happened yesterday evening?”

“I got rear-ended.”

She expected a look of paternal concern, but instead her father nodded, telling her that he not only knew what had happened, he’d probably already inspected the damage. “And did you happen to say some things to the guy who rear-ended you?”

“Maybe?”

Where on earth was this going?

Whit pulled out a chair and reached for a mug. She filled it to the brim and took a sip as she waited for her dad to explain.

Ben Fox blew out a breath. “I took coffee with the guys this morning at the café.”

A regular occurrence since she’d been a little girl. The ranch was only five miles from town, and it wasn’t unusual for her dad to meet with his fellow farmers and ranchers several mornings a week at an unearthly hour.

“And?”

“And I heard that you got rear-ended by Tanner Hayes.”

“I did.” She nodded to punctuate the admission.

“You told him a thing or two after it happened?”

“It was his fault, and he was trying to blame me. I defended myself.”

Ben stared at the table between them with a hard expression. “I was in the middle of making a deal with the guy for water rights. It’s a tricky negotiation. He’s teetering on the bubble between yes and no, and my only child tells the guy that he’s not going to buy his way out of the situation the way his dad bought his way out of things.” He fixed his daughter with a grim look. “Or so I heard.”

Whit’s stomach gave a sick twist. There had been a bit of a crowd, and whoever had reported to whoever reported to her dad was pretty accurate.

“I didn’t know you were negotiating.”

Ben brought his big hand down on the table. “Didn’t you want him to buy his way out of it? Fix your car and all?”

Whit pushed a few wisps of hair off her forehead as she tried to come up with the right words to explain herself. “Dad, what I wanted was for him to take responsibility for the accident so that my insurance rates wouldn’t go up. And—” her mouth tightened “—I was pretty mad. I was just about to list the car for sale, and he smashes into the back of it and pretends it’s my fault, like he expects to weenie out because of who he is. How was I supposed to let that ride?”

Her dad met her gaze in a way that told her that he really wished she had figured out a way.

“I would appreciate it if you would make it better.”

“How?”

“Apologize. I can’t afford to lose this water lease. If I do, then the expansion we’ve talked about is not going to happen.”

He gave her another long look and Whit swallowed. Her father had wanted to expand his fields to the west forever, had worked so hard to increase the value of the ranch after her mother had passed away, but had lacked the water to do so. Carl Hayes was too much of a megalomaniac to work with, but apparently, his son had been more amenable to a deal.

Of all the people who could have followed her too closely, thus making the accident his fault, it had to be him.

Drat.

I enjoyed bringing my hero and heroine together in The Cowgirl’s Homecoming. These two have big decisions to make by the end of the book. Will they follow their heads or  follow their heart?

To qualify for a $10 Amazon gift card when faced with a decision, do you most often follow your head or your heart? Logic or instinct? 

My Favorite Things and a Give Away ~ Jeannie Watt

This may sound odd, but one of my favorite things is appreciating the place where I live. It’s a rare day when I don’t see something I want to photograph because the colors and light are so wonderful here in southwest Montana.

I think I can find a pot of gold at my neighbor’s house.

Summer has super green greens, and because my favorite color is John Deere green, I’m very appreciative.

Sometimes  I have to wait for the pivot (irrigation system) to move off the electric fence before I can move the cows, so I sit my behind down in the grass and admire the view.

Walking from my house to my mom’s (about a 100 yards) I get to look at this.

And this.

Come autumn, the Sand Hill Cranes start gathering, getting ready to fly south. They are often joined by geese and ducks. The noise is amazing; a real cacophony of squawks and honks. We’ve had close to a thousand birds of various kinds gather in the fields before flying away.

And then when the birds leave, the elk show up, as do the antelope and deer, chowing down on the hay fields during the cold months.

We get some decent snow some years.

And it can get pretty cold.

It was 34 below o when this picture was taken a few weeks ago.

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into my world. To qualify for the $10 Amazon gift card, tell me your favorite thing about where you live.

All my best,

Jeannie

 

Ada Curnutt – U.S. Deputy Marshal

Indian Territory (Oklahoma) was a violent place in the late 1800s.  Crime increased dramatically after the Civil War, and because law enforcement in Indian Territory was close to nonexistent (the Indian Nations police force had no jurisdiction over crimes committed in other states), outlaws flocked to the area seeking both criminal opportunity and a safe haven from arrest and prosecution. In other words, outlaws did as they pleased with little chance of retribution unless it was the unofficial kind.

The U. S. Court for the Western District of Arkansas, located in Fort Smith, on the border of Indian Territory was the only court with jurisdiction over the area, which covered 74,000 square miles. Little was done to police the lawless territory until Isaac Parker was appointed judge for the Western District of Arkansas in 1875 and decided to clean up Indian Territory. He appointed 200 U.S. Deputy Marshals to hunt down and arrest wanted criminals and to help bring law and order to the area. Several of these deputy marshals were women.

Ada Curnutt, the daughter of a Methodist minister,  moved to Oklahoma Territory with her sister and brother-in-law around 1890 at the age of 20.  She became the Clerk of the District Court in Norman and then a Deputy Marshal under U.S. Marshal William Grimes. Her duties as a Deputy Marshal included serving warrants, escorting prisoners and making arrests.

In 1893, she received a telegram from Marshal Grimes telling her to send a deputy to Oklahoma City to arrest two known “toughs” who were wanted for forgery. No deputies were available, so Ada took matters into her own hands and boarded a train to Oklahoma City. She tracked the fugitives to the Black & Rogers Saloon, then sent in a message that a lady wanted to see them outside. When the men exited the saloon, she attempted to arrest them, without aid of a weapon. The armed men thought it was a joke, and allowed her to handcuff them, but once they realized she was serious, they attempted to resist. Ada told the criminals that she’d deputize every man in the growing crowd to help subdue them if need be. Not long after, 24 year-old Ada escorted the men to the train and transported them back to Norman, where they were convicted. In 1893 alone, Ada made 19 arrests. When she wasn’t working as a Deputy Marshal, she enjoyed painting china.

To learn about another early female Deputy Marshal serving in Indian Territory, check out Winnie Grigg’s excellent 2019 post on F. M. Miller by clicking here.

 

 

Christmas Decor Crawl ~ Jeannie Watt

Happy Day After Christmas!

I have to admit that my decorating has become more free form as time goes on. This year my two-year-old granddaughter helped decorate the tree, so we put the “special” decorations at the top and then let her direct the rest, using those wonder plastic Christmas balls that never break–even when a two-year-old feels enthusiastic in her decorating efforts. It’s a cheerful free for all, and we had so much fun putting it up.

We also decorate our outside “tree”. We put up this tree to give larger birds a place to land as they survey the area, and every Christmas it becomes our Festivus Tree.

And, as you can see, the cats truly enjoy the season. Sometimes they help with the wrapping and sometimes they guard the tree.

I hope everyone had the best Christmas and I look forward to seeing you all in the New Year!

Jeannie

Mary Had a Little…Turkey?

What does the poem Mary Had a Little Lamb and Thanksgiving becoming a national holiday have in common?

Sarah Joseph Hale, born in New Hampshire in 1788, is largely responsible for both.

After being widowed, and with five children to support, Sarah wrote poetry as a way to make a living, and one of her most enduring poems is Mary Had a Little Lamb. Sarah became the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, a family-oriented magazine in 1841.  As editor, she began to crusade for a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to commemorate the pilgrims’ famous feast. Interestingly, the southern part of the United States was slow to get on board, as they considered the feast of 1610, when supply ships finally reached Virginia, to be a more important occasion.

Thanksgiving was unofficially celebrated in the Northeast and Midwest throughout the 1840s and 1850s, but it wasn’t until the contingency of southern states were absent from congress, due to the Civil War,  that Abraham Lincoln was able to declare Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday in 1863. For some time after the way, the southern states considered Thanksgiving a Yankee Abolitionist Holiday, but eventually  unity was reestablished and turkey and cranberries became part of a national tradition.

Now, about the turkey…

In Sarah’s day, people assumed that the pilgrims ate turkey as part of their feast due to the abundance of wild turkeys on the east coast, while in actuality, they probably ate venison. A turkey is a practical centerpiece for a celebratory dinner, being larger than a goose and able to feed more people.  Godey’s Lady’s Book featured many recipes for Thanksgiving and many of them featured turkey. Other publications pushed the idea of turkey being the traditional protein for the Thanksgiving feast, including Georgia’s Augusta Chronicle, which in 1882 announced, “Every person who can afford a turkey or procure it will sacrifice the noble American fowl to-day.”

Do you celebrate with a traditional turkey dinner? Or do you create your own traditions?