Livinia Webb Dunlop Doe is the one of the most well known widows of Great Bend. She first gained the attention of the press when her husband was murdered at Webb Ranch by the infamous outlaw Cole Younger. Her second husband Jeremiah Dunlop leapt to his death from atop the local saloon. Left on her own Livinia had a mild breakdown and can currently be found tending bar at the saloon she once fought to shut down during the Temperance movement.
How did it feel when your husband was murdered by Cole Younger? Do you ever feel guilty about that?
I was left with an entire ranch to care for by myself. I’m not sure what you’re implying about feeling guilty. Why would I feel guilty? My husband said he’d be home at sundown. The sun was most definitely down–and if he can’t be true to his word then I don’t see how I should feel responsible for his death.
What was your first impression of John Hoyle when he appeared on the scene?
Oh boy. What a blow hard. He basically pointed out every damaged body part on my deceased husband and even tasted the remains. So basically, I thought he was a cannibal. A cannibal that went to Harvard.
Was it somewhat surreal to lose Jeremiah Dunlop so early as well? What did feel like to be a widow twice over?
Like déjà vu in the most horrible way. Why these men keep dying on me, I do not know. The worst part of this was being face-to-face with Hoyle right after my husband’s death again. His bedside manner is terrible. He seems to know the exact right terrible thing to say.
Why were you so opposed to drinking at that time?
I honestly wasn’t really opposed to drinking. Although the amount of money that Jeremiah spent in the saloon is mind-boggling. And it seemed to make his conversation even dumber, if that’s possible. So those are not selling points for alcohol. He killed himself while drunk thinking it would make for a great party! But what I was really against was Honey. She acted so high and mighty just because she owned a business, and seemed to take pleasure in the fact that my husband spent so much time with her at her saloon. So really, I just wanted to shut her down.
What was it like to scrap with Honey over that issue?
Well, I did feel like I had met my match in terms of will. Most men are really pushovers if you find the right spot to push on. But Honey was ready to go toe-to-toe with me and there was something strangely exciting about being matched that way. She did shoot me, but then she gave me a job and helped me see how to really be on my own. Which is shockingly easier than having a man around to mess everything up all the time.
Where did you learn to shoot like you do?
In the town I grew up in I was the only girl for about 50 miles in every direction. My pa taught me to shoot a man on sight if we didn’t expect him and I was home alone. I thought it was boring and not very difficult, so I started flipping the gun around to entertain myself. I just built on my own natural talent, I guess. I wish I could have been a horse-riding shooter, like in a traveling fair or something. But I was taught that that was not the way a lady lived her life. So I got married instead.
Were you worried about infection setting in when Honey shot you in the arm during that altercation?
I was drunk out of my mind on Ephraim’s extract. It heals all. Emotional, physical, spiritual healing. So luckily that killed any chance of infection.
Does it feel somewhat freeing to making your own money now? Do you enjoy being free of restraints that come with having husbands and such?
I feel incredibly free. I miss feeling like someone belongs to me.I really like that part. But men make me so angry. I don’t wake up and look at someone that I kind of hate everyday, which is a plus. I actually inherited quite a bit of money from the deaths of my last husbands. So the work is really for fun and to feel like a part of the town.
What advice would you offer women who might find themselves in similar situations?
If you’re a good shot, use what you got. Let the dead rot, for that is their lot. ‘Else you’ll catch what they caught, so don’t seek what they sought. Who run the world? Men. But not for long.