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First Posted: June 5, 2010
Oct 11, 2010

George "Bittercreek" Newcomb Outlaw

Legends of America

George "Bittercreek" Newcomb (1866-May 2, 1895) was an outlaw of the Old West, and member of the Wild Bunch gang led by Bill Doolin.

Early life, Outlaw Life

Newcomb was born near Fort Scott, Kansas in 1866, although the exact date of his birth is not certain. Coming from a poor family, he began working as a cowboy early in life, at the age of 12. His first employment was on the "Long S Ranch," under rancher C.C. Slaughter. He later drifted into Oklahoma Territory, around 1892, where he first met Bill Doolin, who had formerly rode with the Dalton Gang.

Doolin organized his own gang in 1893, calling them the Wild Bunch, with Newcomb as a member. Newcomb also began a romantic relationship with a 14 year old girl named Rose Dunn around that time, who had four brothers who were minor outlaws and who knew Newcomb, but that later worked as Bounty Hunters, calling themselves the Dunn Brothers. By 1895, Newcomb was a wanted man, and had a $5,000 bounty for his capture or death. During this time, Rose Dunn was traveling with him, helping to supply him and other members of the gang, since she could easily go into a town to purchase supplies.

The gang often took refuge in the town of Ingalls, Oklahoma, which was frequented by numerous outlaw gangs of the day, and in which the local residents often defended the outlaws and assisted in hiding them from lawmen, due to the outlaws contributing greatly to the local economy. In one shootout with lawmen in Ingalls, called the Battle of Ingalls, during which three lawmen and three outlaws were shot, Rose Dunn was alleged to have helped save Newcomb's life after he had been wounded, by running through the gunbattle bringing him extra ammunition, and firing a rifle at lawmen while he reloaded his pistols. However, that is believed to be legend, and by the US Marshals account, Newcomb fought less than admirably, firing at the most two shots before being wounded and fleeing. After several shootouts with lawmen, Newcomb fled with outlaw Charley Pierce to a hideout near Norman, Oklahoma, both of them having been wounded in the Ingalls shootout with US Marshals.

On May 2, 1895, "Bittercreek" Newcomb and Charley Pierce rode up to the Dunn ranch, possibly to visit Rose. As soon as they dismounted, her brothers opened fire, dropping both outlaws. The next day, the Dunn brothers had loaded the two bodies into their wagon and were driving it into town to collect the reward, when Newcomb suddenly moaned and asked for water, to which one of the brothers responded with another bullet.

It is not known as to whether Rose Dunn assisted in this or not. There has been much speculation that Rose Dunn was in contact with her family, and that her brothers followed her to the ranch, then waited for her to leave before they entered and killed the two outlaws. She denied that she had betrayed Newcomb, and her brothers supported her version of the story, indicating that she had no knowledge that they were tracking Newcomb, for their fear that she would reveal this to Newcomb and thus eliminate their ability to surprise the outlaws. Bill Dunn, the leader of the Dunn Brothers, was killed shortly thereafter when he fired two rounds at Sheriff Frank Canton, a well known gunman, due to Canton investigating the brothers for cattle rustling, at which time Canton returned fire, killing Dunn.

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Legends of America