Women Of the Wild West

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Laura Boullion

aka "Della Rose"

Della is portrayed by Melodie McBeath

Laura was an American outlaw whose exact date and location of birth are unclear but census puts her family in the Knickerbocker, near Mertzon, in Irion County, Texas area in 1880.  Other historians suggest that this wasn’t the case at all, but rather she was born on a farm in the township of Palarm near Conway in Faulkner County, Arkansas, and might have grown up in Tom Green County, Texas, and there are those that claim Laura Bullion was born in Kentucky in 1873.

 

In the 1890s, Laura Bullion was a member of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch gang; her cohorts were fellow outlaws, including the Sundance Kid, "Black Jack" Ketchum, and Kid Curry. For several years in the 1890s, she was romantically involved with outlaw Ben Kilpatrick ("The Tall Texan"), a bank and train robber and an acquaintance of her father, who had been an outlaw as well. In 1901, Bullion was convicted of robbery and sentenced to five years in prison for her participation in the Great Northern train robbery. She was released in 1905 after serving three years and six months of her punishment.

 

Laura Bullion moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1918, posing as a war widow and using assumed names. She supported herself as a householder and seamstress, and later as a drapery maker, dressmaker and interior designer. Her fortunes declined in the late 1940s, at which time she was without an occupation. In 1961, she died of heart disease at the Shelby County Hospital in Memphis. Her final resting place is at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis.

 

Laura was somewhat a master of deception and used alias’ to hide her identity “Della Rose” was her the personal she adopted after meeting “Kid Curry”.  Other alias’ included Clara Hays, Laura Casey, Clara Casey Desert Rose and Wild Desert Rose.  “The Thorny Rose” was a nickname given to her in her days of running with the Wild Bunch, this would be a persona that she maintained until her death. Often seen in disguise she was once nabbed for petty larceny dressed as a boy. 

 

She was thought to be a prostitute but she was best known for being a successful train robber.  Although never officially arrested and charges with her involvements, she was finally arrested in 1905 for forgery, and holding $8500.00 worth of stolen bank notes from the “Great Northern Train Robbery”

 

In her retirement she was listed as being a householder and a seamstress.  She lived a rather quiet life in Memphis.  AS her fortune faded, she would move several times and change jobs from being a drapery maker to a more prestigious title of interior designer.  In 1959 her name disappeared from telephone directories and she moved her final time to a modest home on Crossitt place in Memphis.  She would die 2 years later. 

 

Her tombstone reads

Freda Bullion Lincoln

Laura Bullion

The Thorny Rose

1876 - 1961

Bullion's bronze grave marker has a decoration of embossed rose vines along the edges. The decoration and her epitaph "The Thorny Rose" refer to Bullion's nickname in the Wild Bunch.

 

Fact about Laura is that she is said to be only one of three people who knew about the infamous Etta Place, girl friend to Sundance Kid.  Only Ann Basset, Josie Bassett and Bullion are thought to know the true story of the elusive Place.