Readers of the Fort Worth Daily Gazette on March 1, 1890 read about the arrest of Sorrel Sue. Because the type of the clipping is not sharp, I will rephrase the tale:
A gang of horse thieves—the nineteenth-century equivalent of a stolen-car ring—had been operating around Batesville, Arkansas. One gang member was Sorrel Sue, so-called because she always rode a sorrel—a chestnut-colored horse. She was known for “her excellent horsewomanship and her dashing manner”—and for her bleached blond hair. She had many male admirers, two of whom were members of her own gang. One day those two gang members got into a jealous fight over Sorrel Sue.
Shots were fired. One suitor was killed, but, because love is blind, the other suitor was only severely wounded. The gang sent for a doctor to patch up the winner. When the doctor arrived at the gang’s camp, he entered Sue’s cabin by mistake. There he saw things that aroused his suspicion; when he returned to town he passed on his suspicion to the sheriff. The sheriff and a posse rode out to the gang’s camp to investigate. They discovered that Sorrel Sue had been applying her own beauty secret to stolen horses . . .
Sorrel Sue would apply a sulfur bath to the coat of a dark-colored horse and cover the horse’s coat with a rubber jacket to keep in the bleaching vapors. Voila! Quicker’n you can say “palomino,” a dark horse was now a light horse, of course, of course. Sorrel Sue would then further alter the horse’s appearance by trimming its tail and mane. After its makeover, Sorrel Sue could ride—and sell—the stolen horse without detection.
Tomorrow: Once Upon a Drummer: Native Son