Laura Boullion

aka "Della Rose"

Della is portrayed by Melodie 

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My name is Melodie McBeath and I love Laura Bullion and will represent her in The Wildies. She is such a versatile person and a survivor. I love the rebel in her yet she can be very feminine – a bit like me!

"My name is Laura Bullion and I was born in Knickerbocker, Texas near Mertzon in Irion County, in 1876. The actual date of my birth is unknown as they weren’t very good at keepin’ records back then. My mother, Fredy Byler, was German, and my father, Henry Bullion, was Native American. My father was an outlaw and was acquainted with outlaws William Carver ("News Carver") and Ben Kilpatrick ("The Tall Texan") both of whom I met when I was around 13 years of age. My aunt, Viana Byler, married Carver in 1891, but she died soon after the marriage from fever.

 

At age 15, I 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 Ann Bassett. I also worked as a prostitute (no judging ladies) for a time, until I was 16 or 17. I also returned to prostitution from time to time, working mostly in Madame Fannie Porters brothel in San Antonio, Texas, a frequent hideaway for the gang (a girls gotta make a living). When I was arrested in St. Louis, Missouri in 1901, it states my profession as a prostitute but I really had acquired many talents by then.

 

When I first became involved with Carver, he was riding with the Tom Ketchum ("Black Jack Ketchum") gang, and I wanted to join him. However, he wouldn't allow it at first, and we 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.

 

Members of the Wild Bunch nicknamed me "Della Rose", a name I came by after meeting Kid Curry's girlfriend Della Moore. Often I was also referred to as the "Rose of the Wild Bunch".

 

In an arrest report dated November 6, 1901, my name was filed as "Della Rose" and my aliases are stated to be "Clara Hays" and "Laura Casey & [Laura] Bullion". The arrest report lists my profession as prostitute. According to a New York Times article, I was "masquerading as Mrs. Nellie Rose" at the time of my arrest.

The same article also mentions a 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 wouldn’t 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 her disguise." (I can also be very feminine when required!)

 

In the early 1890s, I 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. As the gang robbed trains, I supported them by selling stolen goods, and making connections that could give the gang steady supplies and horses.

 

By 1901, I was again involved romantically with Carver, as well as occasional involvement with other members of the gang. When Carver was killed by lawmen, on April 1, 1901, I became involved romantically with Kilpatrick again, and we fled to Knoxville, Tennessee. Della Moore and Kid Curry met up with us there, and the four of us stayed together for a number of months, until in October, when Della Moore was arrested for passing money linked to one of the gangs robberies.

 

On November 6, 1901, I was arrested on federal charges for "forgery of signatures to banknotes" at the Laclede Hotel in St. Louis. I had $8,500 worth of robbed banknotes in my possession, stolen in the Great Northern train robbery (innocent until proven guilty, I say). On December 12 1901, Kilpatrick was arrested. Curry escaped capture on December 13, 1901, killing two Knoxville policemen in the process. I, and Kilpatrick, were both convicted of robbery, with me being sentenced to five years in prison, and Kilpatrick receiving a twenty year sentence. I spent three and a half years before being released in 1905. Kilpatrick was not released from prison until 1911.

 

Kilpatrick stayed in contact with me through letters. By the time of his release from prison in 1911, I had become involved with at least four other men (still no judging), but we never reconnected nor did we 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.

 

When I turned up in Memphis in 1918 7 lived there until 1948. I used the names "Freda Lincoln", "Freda Bullion Lincoln" and "Mrs. Maurice Lincoln", claiming to be a war widow and that my late husband had been Maurice Lincoln. I also made myself ten years younger claiming to be born in 1887. I spent the remainder of my life working as a householder and seamstress, later as a drapery maker, dress maker and interior designer.

 

In 1920, the Memphis City Directory lists me as seamstress for the Jennings Furniture Co., with rooms at 221 Monroe Ave. From 1927 to 1948 I am listed as "householder" at 1374 Madison Ave. This is the only one of the buildings still in existence in 2007. In the 1930s, I was listed as "drapery maker". My occupation was upgraded to "interior decorator" in 1940. My fortunes declined in the late 1940s. In 1950, I moved to 1065 Walker Ave with no profession listed. The following year I moved to 3691 Southern Ave and in 1952 to 733 Decatur St.  

In 1959, Bullion was listed as living at 278 Cossit Place. I lived there until my death, two years later.

 

Grave marker at the Memorial Park Cemetery, Memphis (2007) According to my obituary, I died of heart disease at the Shelby County Hospital at 6:45 p.m. on December 2, 1961. The memorial service was held two days later, at 11:30 a.m. on December 4. I was buried in the Memorial Park Cemetery, Memphis. I was the last surviving member of the Wild Bunch gang.

 

On my grave marker at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis, my name is inscribed as "Freda Bullion Lincoln" and "Laura Bullion", my birth name. The epitaph, "The Thorny Rose" refers to my nickname in the Wild Bunch.

 

 My grave marker reads:

 

Freda Bullion Lincoln

Laura Bullion

The Thorny Rose

1876 - 1961

The 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. Gang members nicknamed her "Della Rose", a name she came by after meeting Kid Curry'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 my grave marker.

 

Most sources as well as Bullion's grave marker provide 1876 as the year of her birth. The exact day is not known.  

 The Certificate of death states Bullion's age at death 74, and her date of birth as October 4, 1887. Provided that the birth year of 1876 is correct, Bullion would have been rather 84 or more likely 85 years of age at her death, if her birthday had been before December 2, 1961, the recorded date of 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 was"