Bronco Sue Yonkers – A New Mexico Wild Woman
Bronco Sue was a lusty Welsh girl who turned out to be every buckaroo’s sweetest dream and worst nightmare rolled into a cyclone and hammered out with soft curves and hard edges.
Men would fight and die for her affection and then run for their lives when they got it. Some of them did not run fast enough. Susie Warfield burst onto the scene in Wales on September 11, 1854, and immigrated to the United States with her folks and was raised in the Nevada mining camps where she became a daring horsewoman and a crack shot with a six-shooter.
At age 15 she married a rich mine promoter named Tom Rapier and had two sons, but when he went broke as most mine promoters eventually do she left him. Susie Rapier next appeared in the company of Col Robert Payne as a hard riding cattle rustler in Elko County.
She fought a few gun battles as a cow thief and survived them partly because she was handy with a gun, but mostly because nobody wanted to shoot a pretty young girl. She wasn’t yet twenty years old. She did wind up in court a few times but was completely fetching and the all-male juries never convicted her. She was forced to leave the state though, and next turned up calling herself Susie Stone in Colorado where she operated a stage line for a while.
By 1882 she had married Jack Yonker and they moved to Wallace, New Mexico and ran a saloon. They did okay with it for a year but decided to move on to White Oak in Lincoln County which was a livelier settlement. She turned up down there with a fellow named Robert Black who she met along the way.
Their story was that Jack Yonker died of smallpox and they had to bury him at Alkali Flat, but there was no outbreak of smallpox in that area.
The saloon business treated them well in White Oaks. They were able to invest in ranch property nearby, but when the boom faded into a whimper they moved to Socorro and invested in other business ventures. They continued to prosper, but on August 23, 1885, Sue had Black arrested and locked up overnight.
Next morning the town marshal warned Black not to go home as Sue had a gun and was a shooter from way back. Black agreed, but Sue killed him anyway.
She was hauled before the court but testified that Black had come after her with an ax and she had to shoot in self-defense. Black was such a brute sometimes. Sue was so fetching that she was released and fled town ahead of murder warrants. She went over to Tularosa and married a rancher named Charlie Dawson and began training horses.
The local waddies soon started calling her “Bronco Sue”. Big John Good came over from Texas with a herd of cows and started throwing his weight around. Before long Big John was in a friendly relationship with Bronco Sue that ended in gunplay and Dawson was killed. Good was released on grounds of self-defense. He quit seeing Bronco Sue when his wife arrived from Texas.
Dawson’s ranch came under litigation and Bronco Sue was brought to court in Las Cruces to settle that affair but was arrested on the murder warrants from Socorro issued in the death of Black. Alfred J. Fountain defended her on that charge and she was, of course, released because she was so fetching to the all-male jury.
She walked out of that courtroom to be heard of nevermore again.