Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bitch n.2

also bitch lamp
[ety. unknown]

(US, Western) an improvised lamp made of a twist of rag in a container of grease.

[US]N. Klein ‘Hobo Lingo’ in AS I:12 650: Bitch—a tin can of grease with a wick.
[UK]C.M. Russell Trails Plowed Under 159: They were forced to use a ‘bitch,’ which was a tin cup filled with bacon grease and a twisted rag wick. It didn’t only give light—it gave its owners a smell like a New England dinner.
[US]‘Dean Stiff’ Milk and Honey Route 199: Bitch – A tin-can lamp with a shirt-tail wick.
[US]R.F. Adams Cowboy Lingo 13: He invented a light by filling a tin cup with bacon grease into which was placed a twisted-rag wick. This he called a ‘bitch’.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]N. Algren Walk on the Wild Side 16: He turned the smoking bitch lamp low.
[WI]C. Hyatt When Me Was A Boy 30: I am goin’ to encounter a pit latrine. Down the hill from the yard on a moonless night with a piece of ole newspaper an a ‘kitchen bitch’ lamp.
[Can]O.D. Brooks Legs 28: There’s nothing better than a bitch to give a boxcar a homey feeling on a dark night.