Wednesday, January 13, 2016

#WildWest #Women - Part 1

So you think the Wild West was only for the men? Where women did next to nothing other than clean, cook and raise kids? While it was true for many of them, there were a few that managed to stand out and stake their own claims to the West.

Many of these women -often referred to as "women of ill repute"- through tales told about them, are now having children named after them. I guess we're hoping for some modern day tough women.

However, being a "tough girl" in the west was not easy. Very few women were able to pull it off - those are the women that, one way or another, made a name for themselves.

Rose Dunn, aka: The Rose of Cimarron

In a family of outlaws, it was only a matter of time before "The Rose of Cimarron" was working in the business, too. Dunn met Doolin Gang member George Newcomb and joined him as he and his crew robbed stagecoaches and banks. During a particularly nasty gunfight, Dunn risked her life to supply Newcomb with a gun and bullets and helped him escape after he was wounded in battle.

After the killing of "Bittercreek" Newcomb, Rose Dunn was often accused of having set him up, revealing to her brothers where the outlaws were hiding. She denied this, and her brothers later defended her, stating that she had no knowledge of their intentions, nor did she reveal the hideout to them. She was never prosecuted for her involvement with the gang. Her short outlaw life launched her to the level of western legend. She eventually married a locally known politician (Charles Albert Noble), and lived the remainder of her life as a respectable citizen. She died at the age of 76 in Salkum, Washington, a respectable citizen married to a local politician.

I guess Rose proved that you need to be careful what you wish for. It's not always better where you think you want to be. Luckily, she was able to make a change.


Meet Lottie Deno. She was one of the rare female gamblers. Maybe not as bad as some of the other women of the west, she came by her skills honestly. Her father, a plantation owner, taught her. At various points in life she used a variety of names - Carlotta J. Tompkins, Charlotte Tpmpkins, Charlotte Thurmond, Mystic Maud, "The Angel of San Antonio, and the "Queen of the Pasteboards." I guess it proves that not having to have IDs left a lot of room to start over back then.

Though a woman, Lottie made a name for herself all over Texas and was even managed to play against Doc Holliday.

Everyone wasn't always accepting and she was accused of cheating the same as some of the men. In once instance, someone mentioned she should call herself "Lotta Dinero" - and Lottie Deno was born.

Lottie is said to have been the inspiration for Miss Kitty on the show Gunsmoke.

Fannie Porter has a different story. She migrated to the US and became a prostitute. By the time she was 20 (early 1890's) she'd already managed the title of madam. Fannie didn't try to dive into "a man's world" by gambling or gun slinging - she made her name by catering to men and their needs.

Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch would often frequent her boarding house as she was known for keeping it and the girls clean. She was also known for her discretion.

Fannie Porter catered to lawmen, federal agents, and outlaws alike - never revealing one tidbit of a detail. In the 1900's, it's no wonder she was sought out.

It's believed that the Sundance Kid (Henry Longabaugh) met his wife there (Etta Place). It is also believed that at some point she was Butch Cassidy's girlfriend.

Shortly after Butch and Sundance fled to South America, it's said Fannie retired a very wealthy woman and kept a low profile.

Poor (or maybe not...) Big Nose Kate. Born in Hungary, she moved to Iowa with her parents who died while she was still young. As with many women of her time, she was thrown into foster care. Running away, she became a prostitute,

In Fort Griffin, Texas she met Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Kate and Holliday's relationship, while on and off, lasted until his death in 1887.

As with some of the other women of the west, she had many names over the years....Kate Fisher, Kate Melvin, Kate Elder, and more.

Why is she on my list? She broke Doc Holliday out of jail once by starting a fire and pulling a gun on the guard to get him out. Even then women did crazy things for their men.

Late in life, when asked about her relationship with Doc, she refused to cooperate (unless paid - I guess everyone has their price).

A final note, The Sons of Katie Elder was NOT based on Big Nosed Kate (initially used as there was anther known prostitute using the name Kate).

6 comments:

Cathy Brockman said...

Very intriguing!

Ginger Jones Simpson said...

Great post. I throughly enjoyed it.

Larion aka Larriane Wills said...

a couple there i'd never heard of. expanded my knowledge. thank you

Amber Bentley said...

Thanks for stopping by :) There were some really interesting women of the West, I had a difficult time narrowing it down to just a few.

Paty Jager said...

Great post! There were a lot of "tough" women who helped build the west that never made a name for themselves.

Amber Bentley said...

I agree. It was difficult to do almost everything then.