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North America » United States » New Mexico » Deming
January 25th 2019
Published: January 25th 2019
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LOTTIE DENO



Carlotta J. Thompkins came bouncing into the world on April 21, 1844 in Warsaw, KY. She was the oldest of the Thompkins children. Warsaw is a thriving little community slap on the Ohio River about halfway between Louisville and Cincinnati. Her dad was a lively farmer, sportsman, and horse breeder, but he failed to produce male progeny. As she was coming of age her dad charged her with the welfare of the family and began to teach her what he knew of the world. She accompanied him on business trips to sell hemp in Michigan, and to attend horse racing in Nawlins, He also taught her to be a riverboat gambler When the Civil War broke out her dad promptly resigned from his position in the Kentucky General Assembly, got a commission in the Confederate Army. and was soon killed in battle. Carlotta had just turned 17 years old, had completed finishing school and her mom decided to send her up to Michigan where the old man had influential business connections and it was far away from the war. She was a lovely auburn haired young lady, well educated and refined. She was accompanied to Michigan by Mary Poindexter, her loyal slave and nanny. Mary was seven feet tall and a formidable woman in any sort of fight. Carlotta would have little trouble finding a spouse. The spouse she found was Johnny Golden, one her dad’s former jockeys and another gambling man. Together they played the river boats, One day a drunken soldier was making unwanted advances to Carlotta and Mary Poindexter grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and threw him overboard. On another occasion Carlotta and Mary were taking a stroll along the riverbank and happened upon a rattlesnake. Carlotta did not see the snake and it would have bit her but Mary dove on it and killed it. The snake bit her hand though and she had to have a finger amputated. Johnny couldn’t stay out of trouble because he was so small in stature. He was eventually incarcerated and the marriage fizzled out. Carlotta and Mary became so well known as winners on the river that they could no longer find games. They ventured to San Antonio and Carlotta went to work for Frank Thurmond at the University Club. Her table was very popular because she was not your usual tinhorn gambler. The house took a percentage of every pot and Carlotta was paid a percentage of that. Frank fell in love with her, like everyone else did, and the two of them married. Frank had to kill a man in a knife fight and the happy couple decided to head for Fort Worth, then Jacksboro, and finally to the Flats below Fort Griffin. The Flats was the worst hellhole on the frontier and Frank and Carlotta thrived there. It was the junction of two cattle trails and always jumping. She pinned the ears back on Doc Holliday there several times, and on Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and Luke Short. One day she won every single hand that was dealt. When the last dog was hung that night a cowboy called out from across the room that she ought to be called “Lotsa Dinero”. From then on she became known as Lottie Deno. They continued to haul in loot from gambling dives all over the western frontier. Lottie Deno was the most famous female gambler throughout the west. Frank eventually had to kill another man with his knife and they decided to retire from the sporting life in Deming, NM. Frank became president of the Deming National Bank. Lottie helped to establish St Luke’s Episcopal Church there and became a Sunday school teacher. Frank passed away at age 68, but Lottie soldiered on without him until February 9, 1934. The photos show their gravesites in the Deming cemetery.

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