The beautiful woman gambler known on the Texas frontier as Lottie Deno has always been a figure of mystery. Controversy and conflicting stories about her origins and her unconventional lifestyle followed her wherever she went–and in fact persist to this day. Although Lottie has been “immortalized” in frontier novels and more recently in television and film (as “Miss Kitty” in “Gunsmoke” and “Laura Denbo” in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral), the true story is more fascinating than any work of fiction.
Separating legend from fact, Cynthia Rose explores unanswered questions about Lottie’s life. How did this genteel Kentucky belle become romantically involved with a murderer? What led her into a career as a professional gambler, plying her trade on Mississippi riverboats? After the Civil War, how did she wind up as the house dealer in a bar in Fort Griffin, one of the roughest frontier towns in West Texas? What was her involvement with Doc Holiday and other notorious figures of the period? Why the years of secrecy? And how, finally, did she manage to escape her past and settle down to a respectable existence in Deming, New Mexico?
In tracking down clues to Lottie’s story, Cynthia Rose presents oral and written accounts by people who knew her well and includes period photographs documenting her life and times. Ms. Rose pieces together a portrait of a vital, courageous woman who retained her standards of propriety, her elegant, independent lifestyle, and her generous spirit amidst the pervasive violence and lawlessness of the Texas frontier.