Wednesday, July 13, 2016

#WomenoftheWest Belle Starr

Belle Starr, of all the women of the west, has me the most curious. She grew up well (for the time) and had a good education, even an accomplished pianist. And then became a wanted outlaw.

After the death of her brother during the Civil War and the huge hit her father's business had taken due to the war - the family relocated to Texas to hope for a new start.

Once in Texas, Belle began her string of involvements with men of questionable character.

History is unclear as to if Cole Younger or Jim Reed actually fathered her first child - but both were outlaws. By 1869 Belle and Reed were married and she joined in his lifestyle completely Riding Venus, her mare, she used the title "Bandit Queen" for several years and assisted Reed in stealing cattle, money, and horses.

In 1874, Reed was killed by a member of his own gang and Belle was on her own. It didn't change her, though. She went to Indian Territory in Oklahoma and formed her own group of horse and cattle thieves. During this time she met her common-law husband, a Cherokee - Sam Starr.

In 1883, both Belle and Starr served five years for horse theft in a Detroit federal prison. Not changing their ways, in 1886, Belle violently lost Starr during a gunfight with an old enemy.

Not one to hold herself back, she found another husband in a Creek Indian - Jim July. In 1889 she accompanied him part of the way to Arkansas so he could face charges. She turned before they reached Fort Smith.

However, on her way home.....

February 3, 1889 saw Belle Starr being fatally shot by an unknown assailant with two gun shots to her back.

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