Laura Bullion – Member of the Wild Bunch

Laura Bullion, Ben Kilpatrick's girlfriend

Laura Bullion, Ben Kilpatrick’s girlfriend

Laura Bullion, aka: Della Rose, Rose of the Wild Bunch was a “member” Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch

Born in Knickerbocker, Texas around 1876 to a German mother and a Native American father, she met outlaws William Carver and Ben “The Tall Texan” Kilpatrick when she was just a teenager. Knickerbocker was a haven of outlaws and Laura’s own father was a bank robber, so it came as no surprise when the young girl followed a life of crime. When she was just 15 years old she began a romance with Will Carver, who had been married to her aunt until she had recently died. Carver often worked with Black Jack Ketchum robbing trains before he moved on to Utah and hooked up with Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch, where Laura ultimately ended up too. Somewhere along the line, Laura transferred her affections to Ben Kilpatrick, who cast his lot with the Wild Bunch in 1898. Laurie Bullion often helped the gang by fencing goods and money for them and was known to the group as Della Rose and often called the “Rose of the Wild Bunch.”

Having taken part in several train robberies with the Wild Bunch, Kilpatrick and Bullion returned to Texas with William Carver, where Carver was ambushed and killed by lawmen on April 1, 1901. Bullion and Kilpatrick then fled to St. Louis, Missouri, where they were arrested on November 8, 1901. Kilpatrick was found guilty of robbery and sentenced to 15 years in prison, while Laura was sentenced to five.

After serving 3 1/2 years, Laura was released from the Missouri State Penitentiary at Jefferson City, Missouri, on September 19, 1905, and lived the last years of her life in Memphis, Tennessee, under the name of Freda Lincoln, making her way as a seamstress and a dressmaker. She passed away on December 2, 1961, and is buried in Memphis under a tombstone that reads, “Freda Bullion Lincoln—Laura Bullion—The Thorny Rose.”

She never saw her lover Ben Kilpatrick again. Kilpatrick, on the other hand, was released from prison in June 1911 and immediately returned to a life of crime. While trying to rob a Southern Pacific express near Sanderson, Texas, on March 13, 1912, he was killed with an ice mallet.

© Kathy Weiser-Alexander/Legends of America, updated November 2021.

Also See:

Historic Women List

Ben Kilpatrick – Train Robber of the West

Women in American History

The Wild Bunch