(October 1876 – December 2, 1961)
was a female outlaw
of the Old West
. Most sources indicate that Bullion was born
of German and Native American
heritage in Knickerbocker, near Mertzon in Irion
County, Texas; the exact
day of her birth is unclear. Data in the 1880 and 1900 Federal Census suggests that a Laura Bullion
might have been 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.
sources claim that Laura Bullion was born in Kentucky in
In the 1890s, Laura Bullion was a member of Butch Cassidy
's gang the Wild Bunch
; her cohorts were
fellow outlaws including the Sundance
, "Black Jack" Ketchum
. 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.
Bullion moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1918, posing as a war widow and using assumed
She supported herself as a householder
, later as a drapery
maker, dress maker and interior designer.
Her fortunes declined in the late 1940s, at which time she was
without an occupation. In 1961, Laura Bullion died of heart disease at the Shelby
County Hospital in Memphis. Her final resting
place is at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis.
sources report that Laura Bullion was born in Knickerbocker,
Texas near Mertzon in Irion
County, in or around October 1876.
Laura Bullion (1890s)
actual date of her birth is unknown, Bullion's death record
indicates October 4 as her birthday. Her mother was German
, and her father was Native American
Bullion's death certificate
Henry Bullion as her father and Fredy Byler as her mother.
Bullion's father had been an outlaw and was acquainted with outlaws
Carver") and Ben Kilpatrick
Tall Texan"), both of whom Bullion met when she was around 13 years
of age. Her aunt, Viana Byler, married Carver in 1891, but she died
soon after the marriage from fever
. At age 15,
Bullion began a romance with Carver, who for a time after his
wife's death had been involved with female outlaw Josie Bassett
, sister to Cassidy's girlfriend
Bullion also worked as a prostitute
time, until reaching the age of either 16 or 17. She is also believed
to have returned to prostitution from time to time, working mostly
in Madame Fannie Porter's brothel in
Texas, a frequent hideaway for the gang.
of her arrest in St. Louis, Missouri in 1901 states her occupation as prostitute.
Laura Bullion (1901)
Most sources, as well as Bullion's grave marker, provide 1876 as
the year of her birth. 1873 is also mentioned as a possible year of
her birth. The exact day is not known.
In an arrest report dated November 6, 1901, her age is mentioned as
28 at the time of the arrest. Provided that the birth year of 1876
is correct, Bullion would have been 24 or 25 years of age at that
The death certificate
Bullion's age at death as 74, and her date of birth as October 4,
1887. Provided that the birth year of 1876 is correct, Bullion
would have been 84 or 85 years of age at her death. The certificate is
issued under the name Freda Bullion Lincoln, a false
identity she assumed when she moved to Memphis, claiming to be the war widow of Maurice Lincoln
and making herself about ten years younger than she
Most sources, including Laura Bullion's death certificate, give
Texas as her state of birth.
Data found in the 1880 and 1900 U.S.
Census suggests that Bullion might have been
born on a farm in the Palarm Township near Conway in Faulkner
County, Arkansas. The 1880 Federal Census of Population for
Palarm Township show the family of a Kentucky-born farmer named Henry Bullion, aged 42, living
with his wife Martha, 40 years old, and four children, including a
son Lewis, 4 years of age.
The 1900 Federal Census documents a 23 year old Laura Bullion, born
October 1876 in Arkansas, who stated her occupation as
"housekeeper" and who was living with her grandparents E. R.
Serena Byler, her aunt Mrs. Mary Allen and her three children at
the Byler homestead in the southwest portion of the Commissioner's
Precinct Number 4 in Tom Green County, Texas.
County borders Irion County, Bullion's assumed county of birth, in the north
material claims that Laura Bullion was "probably" born in
Kentucky in 1873 and was raised in Texas.
Image:Wildbunchlarge.jpg|The Wild Bunch in Fort Worth, Texas
(1901). Use cursor to identify persons.
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desc noneWhen Bullion first became involved with Carver, he was
riding with the Tom Ketchum
Ketchum") gang, and Bullion wanted to join him. However, he would
not allow it at first, and they only saw one another between
robberies. While in Utah and on the
run from lawmen, Carver became involved with the Wild Bunch gang,
led by Butch Cassidy and Elzy Lay.
Aliases and disguises
Members of the Wild Bunch nicknamed Laura Bullion "Della
", a name she came by after meeting Kid Curry
's girlfriend Della Moore
. Often Bullion was also referred to
as the "Rose of the Wild Bunch
". When Laura Bullion and
her boyfriend Ben Kilpatrick fled east to evade the law after a
in 1901, the couple
travelled under the names "Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin
In an arrest report following the train robbery, dated November 6,
1901, Bullion's name is filed as "Della Rose
" and her
aliases are stated to be "Clara Hays
" and "Laura Casey
". The arrest report lists her
profession as prostitute
. According to a
New York Times
article, she was
"masquerading as Mrs. Nellie Rose
" [emphasis added] at the
time of her arrest. The same article also mentions the suspicion
that Laura Bullion, "disguised as a boy", might have taken
part in a train robbery in Montana.
The paper cites Chief of Detectives
Desmond: "I would'nt
[sic!] think helping to hold up a
train was too much for her. She is cool, shows absolutely
no fear, and in male attire would readily pass for a boy.
She has a masculine face, and that would give her assurance in
" Instead of "Clara Hays
", Bullion also
used "Clare Hayes
" or "Clara Hayes
" as a version
of her alias. Other assumed names she used at that time were
", "Wild Bunch Rose
" and "Clara
Bullion turned up in Memphis in 1918, she used the names "Freda
Lincoln", "Freda Bullion Lincoln" and "Mrs.
Maurice Lincoln", claiming to be a war widow and that her late
husband had been Maurice Lincoln.
She also made herself ten
years younger claiming to be born in 1887. On her grave marker
at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis, Bullion's name is inscribed as
"Freda Bullion Lincoln" and "Laura Bullion", her
" refers to her nickname in the Wild Bunch.
early 1890s, Bullion became involved romantically with Ben
Kilpatrick ("The Tall Texan"), after Carver began a relationship
with a prostitute named Lillie Davis, whom he had met while at
Fannie Porter's brothel in San Antonio, Texas.
the gang robbed trains, Bullion supported them by selling stolen
goods, and making connections that could give the gang steady
supplies and horses.
By 1901, Bullion was again involved romantically with Carver, as
well as occasional involvement with other members of the gang.
Carver was killed by lawmen, on April 1, 1901, Bullion became
involved romantically with Kilpatrick again, and the two fled to
Della Moore and Kid Curry met up with them
there, and the four stayed together for a number of months, until
October, when Della Moore was arrested for passing money linked to
one of the gangs robberies.
November 6, 1901, Bullion was arrested on federal charges for
"forgery of signatures to banknotes" at the Laclede Hotel in
She had $8,500 worth of robbed banknotes in
her possession, stolen in the Great
Northern train robbery
On December 12, 1901, Kilpatrick was arrested. Curry escaped
capture on December 13, 1901, killing two Knoxville policemen in
the process. Bullion and Kilpatrick were both convicted of robbery
, with Bullion being sentenced to five years
, and Kilpatrick receiving a twenty
year sentence. She spent three and a half years before being
released in 1905. Kilpatrick was not released from prison until
After the outlaw life
Kilpatrick stayed in contact with Bullion through letters. By the
time of his release from prison in 1911, she had become involved
with at least four other men, but they never reconnected nor did
they ever see one another again. Kilpatrick was killed robbing a
train on March 13, 1912. By that time, all the members of the Wild
Bunch gang were either in prison, dead, or had served a prison
sentence and moved on to other things in their lives.
Bullion moved to Memphis, where she spent the remainder of her life working
as a householder and seamstress, later as a drapery maker, dress maker and interior
Claiming to be the war widow of Maurice Lincoln, she lived in
Memphis for 43 years under the assumed names of "Freda
", "Freda Bullion Lincoln
" or "Mrs.
". According to her death certificate
, she gave October 4,
1887, as her birthday, making her about ten years younger than she
In 1920, the Memphis City Directory lists her as seamstress
for the Jennings Furniture Co., with
rooms at 221 Monroe Ave
. From 1927 to 1948 she is
listed as "householder
1374 Madison Ave
. This is the only one of the
buildings still in existence in 2007. In the 1930s, Bullion was
listed as "drapery maker". Her occupation was upgraded to "interior
decorator" in 1940. Her fortunes declined in the late 1940s. In
1950, Bullion moved to 1065 Walker Ave
profession listed. The following year she moved to
3691 Southern Ave
and in 1952 to 733 Decatur
. From 1953 to 1959, Bullion disappears from the telephone
book and is not listed in the City Directory.
In 1959, Bullion was listed as living at 278 Cossit
. She lived there until her death, two years later.
to her obituary, Bullion died of heart
disease at the Shelby County Hospital at 6:45 p.m. on December 2,
The memorial service was held two days later, at
11:30 a.m. on December 4. She is buried in the Memorial Park Cemetery .
Bullion was the last surviving member of
the Wild Bunch gang.
Her grave marker reads:
- Freda Bullion Lincoln
- Laura Bullion
- The Thorny Rose
- 1876 - 1961
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. Gang members
nicknamed her "Della Rose", a name she came by after meeting
's girlfriend Della Moore
. Often she was also referred to as
"Rose of the Wild Bunch" by her fellow gang members. It is unknown
who chose the decoration or the epitaph for her grave marker.
Her cohorts' fate
For a number of years prior to her death, Bullion was one of only
three people who had actually known the mysterious Etta Place
, girlfriend to Wild Bunch gang member
the Sundance Kid
. Place simply
disappeared in 1909, following the Kid's death in Bolivia. At that same time, a woman named Eunice Gray began operating a brothel in Texas, and it has
often been speculated that Gray was in fact Place.
Bullion, Ann Bassett
, and Josie Bassett
could have confirmed otherwise.
Ann Bassett died in 1956. In 1964, Josie Bassett died, the last of
any who could shed light on the facts about Etta Place.
- 1880 Federal Census of Population, Enumeration District 52,
Page 36, Lines 6-11
- 1900 Federal Census of Population, Enumeration District 158,
Sheet No. 4, Lines 62-68
- Woman Train Robber Held; Special to The New York
Times; New York, NY; Nov. 8, 1901; page 2
References to the "Shelby County Register of Deeds" reflect
information from the death certificate of "Freda Bullion Lincoln",
the identity Laura Bullion assumed for 43 years, when she was
living in Memphis. Some of the information does not match the real
facts, which is not unusual for a false identity. She registered
under a false name, made herself ten years younger and claimed to
be the widow of Maurice Lincoln. The state of her birth is given
correctly as Texas. It is unclear how truthful the information
about her parent's names is or about the day of her birth. The
information is not provided to start speculation; it is the data on
the record about the assumed identity of Laura Bullion at the time
of her death. It is an accurate
reflection of vital records containing potentially
data as provided to the
authorities by Laura Bullion herself.