Jake had stepped out of the saloon to take a leak and catch a breath of fresh air when he noticed the smell of smoke. He looked down the street and saw a red glow in the sky down by lumberyard. He ambled a little closer to get a better look and saw that a fire had broken out and a couple buildings were already ablaze.
Soon he heard the clanging bell of the town's fire engine, racing to the scene pulled by a team of horses. Jake lit a cigarette and watched. This was damned interesting. But he almost swallowed his cheroot when he saw that one of the firemen hanging onto the engine was a woman! A dark-skinned lady in a flannel nightgown and shawl wearing a "Engine No. 1" fire helmet. What's more, Jake recognized her as one of the fancy ladies from bordello row!
The lady jumped off the engine and as the other firemen began attaching hoses to the engine's pump, she started giving orders to some of the men watching the blaze. "You!" she said thrusting a bucket into Jake's hands. "Make yourself useful!"
Jake gulped. "Yes, Miss Julia!"
Julia Bulette (1832? - 1867), the dark-haired and dusky-skinned madame of Virginia City, was known for her generosity and her lavish lifestyle. According to some sources, she was born in London England of French parents; other sources claim she was a Creole from New Orleans. Her wit and charm made her popular with the men of Virginia City and she became an advocate for the “soiled doves” of the town, using her charm to persuade the more affluent men-folk to build better housing for them. So popular was Bulette that she was elected an honorary member of the Virginia City Engine Company Number One, the town’s fire department. She marched with the company in parades, and accompanied them on every fire alarm.
One story credits her with saving the Union during the Civil War. According to legend, she heard about a plan to hijack a government shipment of silver from the Comstock Mine and so she accompanied that shipment. Although many of the miners were southerners, they respected Julia more than they hated the North and the shipment went through.
When she was murdered in her bed by a robber on January 19 1867, the respectable folk of the town refused to have such a notorious sinner buried in consecrated ground; but that didn’t stop the men of Virginia City from giving her a lavish funeral. Thousands of men marched in her funeral and she was buried outside the cemetery on a hill overlooking the town.
Game and Story Use
- In a Wild West campaign, Julia Bulette would make a possible patron for any game set in Virginia City.
- She has no connection with the Land Shark from D&D. Just wanted to make that clear.