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1886
THRILLING LIFE OF A GIRL.

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BELLE STARR, WHO SHELTERS OUTLAWS
_______

Her Romantic Career--Elopement at Fifteen,
Marriage on the Prairie--Visited by Jesse
James--Her First Taste of Outlawry.

     FORT SMITH, Ark., May 30.--For the past week, the noted Belle Starr has been quite an attraction on the streets of this city. She came to answer two indictments in the Federal Court, and expected to have been tried at the present term, first for being implicated in the stealing of a fine mare, the one ridden by the notorious John Middleton, when he was drowned in the Poteau River, twenty-five miles above this city, in May, 1885; and second, on a charge of robbery, in which, it is claimed that Belle, dressed in male attire, led a party of three men who robbed an old man named Ferrell and his three sons, some forty miles north of here, in the Choctaw Nation, about three months ago. Court adjourned on Monday last, and her cases went over until August next.

LEAVING FOR THE CANADIAN.

     Monday night, Belle swung her Winchester to her saddle, buckled her revolver around her, and, mounting her horse, set out for her home on the Canadian. Before leaving, she purchased a fine pair of 45-caliber revolvers, latest pattern, with black rubber handles and short barrel, for which she paid $29. She showed them to your correspondent, with the remark: "Next to a fine horse, I admire a fine pistol. Don't you think these are beauties?"
     Belle says she anticipates no trouble in establishing her innocence in the cases against her, but thinks it terribly annoying to have to spend her time and money coming down here to court five and six times a year.
     Belle attracts considerable attention where she goes, being a dashing horse-woman, and exceedingly graceful in the saddle. She dresses plainly, and wears a broad-brimmed white man's hat, surmounted by a wide black plush band, with feathers and ornaments, which is very becoming to her. She is of medium size, well formed, a dark brunette, with bright and intelligent black eyes.

A ROMANTIC HISTORY.

     While here, she kindly granted your correspondent a long interview concerning her past life, but made it plainly understood that she had but little use for newspaper reporters, who, she claims, at various time, have done her great injustices. Being asked for a brief sketch of her career, she said, in substance, that she was born at Carthage, Mo., and was 32 years old last February. In 1863, her father, being a Confederate, removed with his family to Texas, where he continued to reside after the close of the war. After the surrender, Quantrell's men came to the locality, and were, at all times, welcome guests at her father's home.
     When less than 15 years of age, she fell in love with one of the dashing guerrillas, whose name, she said, it was not necessary for her to give. Her father objected to her marriage and she ran away with her lover, being married on horseback in the presence of about twenty of her husband's companions. John Fisher, one of the most noted outlaws in the State of Texas, held her horse while the ceremony was being performed, her wedding attire being a black velvet riding habit.

HER FIRST CAPTIVITY.

     About six weeks after the marriage, her husband, being an outlaw, was forced to flee from the country, and he went to Missouri, leaving her in Texas. Her father learned of the hasty departure, and in order to induce her to return home, sent her a message that her mother was dangerously ill, and her presence was requested in haste. She immediately went home, but found she had been duped, as her mother was not sick at all, and it was then she experienced her first captivity, for the old gentleman locked her up and kept her in confinement for about two weeks, after which, he gave her a choice of going to school in San Antonio, or to a small place in Parker County. She was placed in school at the latter place and remained there for some time, but was not allowed to communicate with any one outside of her family.
     While there, her husband again came to Texas, and after considerable trouble, learned where she was and came after her.

BELLE'S FIRST TASTE OF OUTLAWRY.

     By this time, her admiration for him had become somewhat impaired, and, at first, she refused to go with him, but after considerable persuasion, she borrowed a horse from a young fellow who was attending the same school, ostensibly to take a short ride, and meeting her husband, after dark, they struck out for Missouri, where her husband purchased a farm and made an effort to settle down and lead an upright life. He was harassed by enemies to such an extent that he could not live in peace, and finally, they killed his brother, and, in return, he killed two of them, after which, they again fled to Texas, and from there, went to Los Angeles, Cal., and remained in that State for some time. From there, they again returned to Texas, and her husband was killed. Having followed the fortunes of an outlaw, thus far, she has since been true to his friends and comrades, and she has continued to associate with men of his calling, having lived among the Indians nearly ever since, with the exception of two years spent in Nebraska. She has spent some of the time among the wild tribes. The following note she handed to your corespondent just before starting for home, which she had written hurriedly, and is given verbatim:

TOLD BY THE LADY HERSELF.

     "After a more adventurous life than generally falls to the lot of woman, I settled permanently in the Indian Territory, selecting a place of picturesque beauty on the Canadian River. There, far from society, I hoped to pass the remainder of my life in peace and quietude. So long had I been estranged from the society of women, whom I thoroughly detest, that I thought I would find it irksome to live in their midst. So, I selected a place that but few have ever had the gratification of gossiping around.
     "For a time, I lived very happily in the society of my little girl and husband, a Cherokee Indian, son of the noted Tom Starr. But, it soon became noised around that I was a woman of some notoriety from Texas, and from that time on, my home and actions have been severely criticized.

VISITS FROM NOTED OUTLAWS.

     "My home became famous as an outlaws' ranch long before it was visited by any of the boys who were friends of mine in times past. Indeed, I never correspond with any of my old associates, and was desirous my whereabouts should be unknown to them. Through rumor, they learned of it. Jesse James first came in and remained several weeks. He was unknown to my husband, who never knew until long afterward, that our home had been honored by Jesse's presence. I introduced Jesse as one Mr. Williams from Texas. But, few outlaws have visited my home, notwithstanding so much has been said. The best people in the country are my friends. I have considerable ignorance to cope with, consequently, my troubles originate mostly in that quarter. Surrounded by a low down class of shoddy whites, who have made the Indian country their home to evade paying tax on their dogs, and, who I will not permit to hunt on my premises, I am the constant theme of their slanderous tongues. In all the world, there is no woman more peaceably inclined than I."

VERY MUCH LIED ABOUT.

     In relating her experience during the past three years, she says since the return of herself and husband from Detroit, Mich., where they served one term of less than a year for alleged horse stealing, her name has been coupled with every robbery or other depredation that has been committed in the Territory, and in a spirit of mirth, she said:
     "I am the best guarded woman in the Indian country, for when the deputy marshals are not there, somebody else is."
     In speaking of her recent arrest by Deputy Tyner Hughes, she said she was never more dumbfounded in her life than when he rode boldly up to her house and informed her he had come to serve a writ. She was not used to that manner of approach, as the Marshals generally came into the Bend with a crowd of from twenty-five to forty men and crawled upon their hands and knees in the darkness.
     "And, whenever you see a deputy Marshal come in," said she, "with the knees of his pants worn out, you may be sure he has invaded Youngers' Bend. Hughes is a brave man and acted the gentleman in every particular, but I hardly believed he realized his danger."

DENIES THE ROBBERY.

     She says she never heard of the robbery of Ferrell until she was arrested as the leader of the party who committed it, her accusers asserting she was in male attire. She admits that her husband is, at all times, on the scout to avoid arrest, and there are several charges of larceny, robbery, etc., against him, which have been trumped up by his enemies, who would not hesitate to swear him into the penitentiary, should he surrender and stand trial.

AT HOME.

     When at home, her companions are her daughter, Pearl (whom she calls the "Canadian Lily"), her horse and her two trusty revolvers, which she calls her "babies." The horse she rides, she has owned for nearly five years, and no one ever feeds or handles him but herself, and it would be risky business for anyone else to attempt to ride him. She says she has been offered $300 for him, time and time again, but that $500 would not get him. He is a small sorrel horse, and when in good condition, is a beautiful animal, but looked rather the worse for hard riding when here last week. Belle is a crack shot, and handles her pistol with as much dexterity as any frontiersman. No man enters Younger's Bend without first giving a thorough account of himself before he gets out.
     Belle related many incidents of her life that would be of interest, and says she had been offered big money by publishers for a complete history of it, but she does not desire to have it published just yet. She has a complete manuscript record, and when she dies, she will give it to the public. She spends most of her time writing when at home.
     In winding up our interview, she said:
     "You can just say I am a friend to any brave and gallant outlaw, but have no use for that sneaking, coward class of thieves who can be found in every locality, and who would betray a friend or comrade for the sake of their own gain. There are three or four jolly, good fellows on the dodge now in my section, and when they come to my home, they are welcome, for they are my friends, and would lay down their lives in my defense at any time the occasion demanded it, and go their full length to serve me in any way."

- June 7, 1886, Dallas Morning News, p. 4, col. 5-6.
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1889
THE DESPERADO WOMAN.

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BELLE STAR, THE MOST NOTED CHAR-
ACTER IN THE WEST.

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Some Incidences of Her Career in
Dallas Recalled--She Was a Re-
markable Woman.

    GAINESVILLE, Tex., Feb. 5.--Capt. Bodine, from Eufaula, I. T., to-day, gives the following particulars of the killing of Belle Starr: On Monday, she had been in town during the day and had started to her home, about six miles distant. When about half that distance had been traveled on horseback, she was shot by some person unknown, the ball entering her heart and presumably killing her instantly. The riderless horse went home and Belle's daughter mounted him and rode back in search of her mother, whom she found lying dead in the middle of the road. A large number of persons visited the premises to view the remains of the dead woman.
    W
ACO, Tex., Feb. 6.--Mordecai Hunnicut, a plasterer, who resides in this city and has resided here for many years, and who is in a position to know whereof he speaks, gives the following recital concerning Belle Star, who was assassinated last Sunday night near Eufaula, I. T.:
    She resided in Bosque county sixteen years ago as the wife of Jim Reed, who owned a farm in that county. Reed was arrested on accusation of participation with the Younger brothers in the Gad's Hill train robbery and died in prison, without coming to trial. Mrs. Reed took the name of Ross, and under that name, resided in Dallas and Sherman in 1875. She returned to Waco, accompanied by a person of the name of McManus, and they took rooms at the Kirkpatrick house, where they were arrested by Sheriff L. S. Ross on a charge of horse theft. Mrs. Reed was released, but McManus was some time in the McLennan county jail. In 1880, McManus returned to Waco, and on Oct. 9 that year, attended a circus, and while at the show, exhibited a handful of twenty dollar gold coins of United States mintage, which he said he had recovered from a plant made by Jim Reed on the Bosque farm, being Reed's share of the Gad's Hill exploit. The person who saw the money in McManus' possession remembered that five years before, while in prison, he had told a story to the effect that he was accompanying Mrs. Reed to Bosque county to dig up the treasure, when they were apprehended. Gov. Ross, who was the sheriff, making the arrest, is referred to by the News correspondent's informant as having knowledge of a portion of the details given above.
     Belle Star, the desperado woman, was well known to every old citizen and officer in Dallas county. They recall her as a handsome woman, a graceful equestrian, and a crack marksman with a faultless nerve. She possessed commendable courage and would face any danger without flinching. The published statement from Waco is pronounced by those here who are well acquainted with this remarkable woman's career, in the main correct: The exceptions being that the party she visited Waco with when arrested by Gov. Ross was Mike McCommas of this county; and her husband, Jim Reed, instead of dying in jail, was killed by a detective, who was also a relative, and was following Reed for the purpose of arresting him. The two were traveling in a stage, the detective, whose name was not readily recalled, having spotted Reed and was awaiting an opportunity to get the "drop" on him. A halt was made for dinner at a stopping place in Grayson county, and while at the table, the detective managed to get the drop on Reed and ordered his hands up. Reed threw up his hands, and as he did so, turned the table up in front of him when the detective fired, the ball penetrating Reed's heart after going through the table.
     Many exploits are re-called here which were enacted while citizens and officers were endeavoring to rid the county of horse thieves. Ed. Shirley, Belle Starr's brother, was leader of a notorious gang, and one night in '67, when the citizens surrounded Shirley's house, which is yet standing on Mesquite creek, Belle, with a yankee blue overcoat drawn over her shoulders, thrust her head through a shutter opening and was endeavoring to get a shot at some of the party. She was ordered several times to take her head back, but refused to obey until a ball from Mr. Joe Huffman's pistol (he is now dead) cause her to retire. Shirley was finally killed at a point on Spring creek in 1867 by Mr. Joe Lynn, now of Collin county. From the date of the killing of her brother, to whom she was greatly attached, marked Belle Starr's--nee Mira Reed--desperate career. Several times, it is said, she buckled a brace of six-shooters around her and went in search of Mr. Lynn. She was confined in the Dallas county jail over a year when Barkley was sheriff, and during this time, it is said one of the deputies became so infatuated with her, that he suicided because his attentions were not reciprocated. When she was released from jail, she went to the Indian Territory, and it is learned here, was killed by a pal because she "squealed" on some of her tribe who were engaged in a late train robbery occurring in or near the Indian Territory. She was familiarly known here as Mira Reed, and was in the city about eight weeks ago on a visit. While here, she sent for several of the old time officers to call on her. Her daring and recklessness found origin, perhaps, in the Indian blood which coursed her veins.

- February 7, 1889, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 1, col. 5-6
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BELLE STARR'S HUSBAND
_______

An Uncle of Cole Younger, Her Le-
gal Helpmate.

[Denver News.]

     In the telegraphic columns of the News within the past few days, there has appeared mention of the death of the notorious Belle Starr at Eufaula, I. T. The first dispatch stated that she was the wife of Cole Younger, one of the more notorious Younger family, whose name has become familiar to the whole country by reason of their many crimes. Cole denied the assertion that Belle was his wife. This statement is confirmed from a local source, and that she was, instead, the wife of Bruce Younger, an uncle of Cole. Bruce lives at Colorado Springs, where he went for his health, and a part of last summer was spent by him in Denver at the Brunswick hotel. Younger was a cousin of the Younger brothers who were mixed up in crime. He died at Colorado Springs last August, leaving one child, who was then being educated at Notre Dame, Ind. While Younger was at Colorado Springs, he lived with a woman supposed to be his wife, but whether is was Belle Star, or whether he had separated from her prior to her appearance in Colorado, does not appear. Through married to the woman in 1874, it is to be presumed that Bruce Younger's appearance in Denver created a slight stir in gambling circles, for he had a little money and alternately won and lost heavily. He went broke frequently, was staked and picked up again. At one time, he went on a prolonged spree, during which, he was ugly, but at other times he was very quiet and gentlemanly. At last, he broke down and had to borrow money to leave town, owing considerable amounts to various parties. He was introduced here by the noted gambler, Jim Kendall.
     A special from Chetopa, Kan., says sometime after the Otterville robbery, Bruce Younger went to the Nation and became acquainted with Belle Starr. She was infatuated with him and they lived together some time, he representing himself as Cole Younger. Becoming tired of the solitude of the Starr ranche, Bruce ran off and got as far as Chetopa, where he was overtaken by Belle at the National hotel, then kept by one Lellinman. Belle pulled her gun and Bruce got on his knees to her and begged for his life. Belle's terms were to "marry, or pass in your checks." Bruce agreed to marry. They went to Oswego, got a license and were married in Chetopa by J. P. Shields, a justice of the peace. He is, at present, residing at Chetopa where he can be communicated with. Belle leaves two children by this marriage, a boy and a girl, both bright children.

MYRA SHIRLEY BELLE STARR.

    SHERMAN, TEX., Feb. 12.--A great deal has been said and written about Belle Starr since she was killed. L. H. Scruggs, proprietor of the Commercial hotel of this city, was well acquainted with her, and gave the following version of her real identity to the News reporter to-day:
     "I was an old schoolmate of the woman of whom so much has been said, and what I state, I know to be positively correct. Belle Starr's maiden name was Myra Shirley. She is, or was, the youngest daughter of John R. Shirley, who died in Dallas county in this state a number of years since. She was born and raised in Carthage, Jasper county, Missouri, in which county I was also raised up. Her father lived in Carthage and was the proprietor of a hotel there until 1861, when he came to Texas. Myra Shirley, or Belle Starr, married a man by the name of Reed about the close of the war. Reed was with Quantrell. That was her first marriage. Reed was killed and she, afterwards, married the celebrated half-breed, Sam Starr. There are several citizens of Sherman who formerly lived in Carthage, Mo., and they will substantiate the history I have given of her to be a true one. Her people were all enthusiasts in the cause of the south during the war. I can positively state that she did not have a drop of Indian blood in her veins."
     This is believed to be the only correct version yet given of the parentage of this noted female character, whose name has been heralded all over the southwest.

- February 13, 1889, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 5, col. 3-4.
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BELLE STARR.
_______

She Was Not by Any Means the
Famous Belle Boyd.

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THE CAREERS OF TWO WOMEN.
_______

Belle Boyd Was a Confederate Spy, Full
of Nerve and Daring--Belle Starr Was a
Female Desperado, Not Less Brave and
Cool.

     The recent assassination of the mysterious Belle Starr in the Indian Territory has set all the scouts and correspondents of the war era to giving their reminiscences of the female spies--the "Belle Boyds" and the "Sue Mundys." It is in some respects an exciting story, in many more an exceedingly sad one; for it cannot be otherwise than saddening to a normally constituted mind to read of young women turned into avenging fiends by the unprovoked murder of near relatives, as Belle Starr was by the murder of her brother. The farther we get from the neighborhood war in western Missouri, the more clearly we see how atrocious it was on both sides, Kansas "Red Legs" and Missouri guerrillas often murdering their opponents in cold blood.
     Belle Starr was not Belle Boyd, as was at first supposed. Both have had romantic careers, but the former was a criminal outlaw, while Belle Boyd was, and is, a lady of some culture, once a daring "rebel," but never a criminal. Belle Shirley was born in Missouri near forty years ago, and was an innocent, ignorant and rather handsome child, till her brother, a mere boy, was murdered by a raiding party from Kansas; then she voted herself to revenge and her energies to aiding the Quantrill gang. Her father had to fly to Texas, the survivors of the Quantrill band followed after the war, and she ran away with and married Cole Younger. He soon had a "difficulty," two or three men were killed and he had to fly to Missouri.
     After a term in school, she rejoined him. He purchased a farm in Missouri and tried to lead an upright life. He loved his girl wife as passionately as a man of his nature could love anybody, and he was really ambitious to make a good home for her and surround her with such rough luxuries as she desired. But, his past record defeated his ambition. He had enemies everywhere, and they were unceasing in their persecutions. One day, a party of men killed his brother, a lad about 17 years old, while he was returning to his father's farm from Sedalia. Cole Younger, as soon as the news of the tragedy reached him, abandoned his farm and set out to wreak vengeance on the assassins. He killed four of them in as many weeks, and wounded five or six others. He went to Los Angeles, Cal., where he remained for some time and then returned to Texas. From Texas, he returned to Missouri, where he joined his fortunes with those of the lawless James gang, and he participated in all their daring raids, down to the tone on the Northfield (Minn.) bank, when he was shot and captured. He is now serving a life sentence in the Minnesota penitentiary at Stillwater. His wife was true to him to the moment the iron gates of the prison closed behind him. She spent a large sum of money in his defense, and accompanied him to Stillwater, heavily armed, in the vain hope that she might effect his release.
     She next located in the Indian Territory, and her house became a refuge for desperadoes. She married Cherokee, Sam Starr, and with him, served a short term in prison for horse stealing. Her husband was killed two years ago; then her home at Younger's Bend, near Eufaula, became notorious as a resort of outlaws, and to a visitor, Belle once said: "I am a friend of any bold and daring outlaw, but have no use for the sneaking, coward class of thieves." She lived with a brother of her late husband, and was finally assassinated by E. A. Watson, a "sneaking coward" thief from Florida. Outlaw though she was, the method of her death excites shame and sympathy. Jim Starr, her companion, who captured the murderer, details it thus:
     "As she turned the corner at the back of the field, her assassin was inside the fence, where she must have seen him, as there were no bushes or trees to conceal his presence. After she had passed by, he shot her in the back with a load of buckshot, knocking her from her horse. He then jumped over the fence, and as she lay prostrate in the mud, he fired a load of turkey shot into her side, neck and face.
     "The frightened animal she was riding dashed off home, where he was caught by Belle's daughter, Pearl Younger, who immediately mounted him and set out to see what had befallen her mother, and soon arrived at the spot where she lay in the throes of death. She spoke two or three words to the girl and expired.
     In early life, she was strikingly handsome; her mode of life soon destroyed much of her beauty, but she was, to the last, a dashing rider and exercised a remarkable control over the rude men among whom she lived.
     Belle Boyd's marriage experience was even more varied than that of Belle Starr, but she abhorred violence, associated with gentlemen, and still lives. She was born in Martinsburg, Berkeley county, now West Virginia, on the 9th day of May, 1843. Her mother was Mary Glenn Boyd, a daughter of Capt. James Glenn, an army officer. Her father was Benjamin Read Boyd, of Martinsburg. "I was educated," she says, "at the Mt. Washington Female college, Baltimore county, Md. I had just left school when war was declared, and I entered heart and soul into the cause of the south. Of my exploits and services to the Confederate army, the country familiar. During my career as the rebel spy, I was eleven months a prisoner in the old Capitol and Carroll prisons at Washington, and twice sentenced to be shot.
     "In May, 1864, I ran the blockade with important dispatches, was captured and finally banished by President Lincoln. I sailed for England on the 25th of August, 1864, and was married at St. James' church, Piccadilly, to Lieut. Sam Wylde Harding, of the United States navy. He was the son of Capt. Harding, of Brooklyn. I made my debut as an actress at the Theatre Royal, Manchester, England, under Walter Montgomery, in May, 1866."
     After amnesty was declared, she returned to the United States. Her husband died and she married Col. John Hammond, of New Orleans. They went to California, where she became insane, and was, for a time, in the Stockton asylum. In 1883-84, they were in Dallas, Tex., where Col. Hammond got jealous and assaulted a young lawyer on her account. She secured a divorce and again took to the stage, lecturing occasionally on her experience as a spy. In 1885, she married Nat R. High, the actor, and now lives at Greensburg, Pa., still a good looking, fairly well preserved woman, bright, vivacious and full of sparkling reminiscences. In the general social political amnesty of recent years, Mrs. Boyd-Harding-Hammond-High has been a welcome lecturer at various places under the auspices of the Grand Army of the Republic.
     No one has found it profitable to personate Belle Starr, but there have been three or four fictitious "Belle Boyds." One living at Corsicana, Tex., and doing a profitable business in selling war pamphlets on the strength of her alleged career, was greatly disconcerted by the arrival there of the real personage and departed suddenly for California. There is, too, curious tradition afloat that one woman escaped from the wreck of the Morning Star, the vessel on which the once notorious Mrs. Cunningham Burdell was taking a load of "girls" to New Orleans, and that that woman is now posing about the country as Belle Boyd. However, the country is large and new and eager for novelties, and in a general way, able to pay for seeing them; so we shall doubtless continue to see "Belle Starrs" and "Female Spies," "Belle Boyds" and "Escaped Nuns" for many years yet, and the next generation will read of them in highly spiced "yaller kivers."s

- February 19, 1889, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 2, col. 1-2.
- o o o -



1893
YOUNGER BOYS
IN EARLY DAYS.

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Their First Step in Crime Taken
in Dallas County.

_______

COPY OF THE
OLD INDICTMENT.

_______

KILLING OF CHARLEY NICHOLS AND
WILLIAM McMAHON.

______

Men Driven to Desperation by Bank-
ruptcy and a Brother's Disgrace -- Cole
Younger's Army Record -- Subse-
quent Career of the Family.

     Rummaging among the old records of the district court this morning, a TIMES HERALD reporter found a document, yellow with age, that has, since its execution, become invested with historical interest. It is no less than a true bill for murder against John Younger, the famous outlaw and bandit.
     The peculiar phraseology of the indictment will excite interest in legal circles, and serve as a reminder of the minuteness and care that characterized the criminal pleadings of the days of yore. It reads as follows:

HOW OLD INDICTMENTS READ.

     The state of Texas, county of Dallas -- In the district court, June term, A. D., 1871.
     In the name and by the authority of the state of Texas:
     The grand jurors for the state of Texas, duly elected and impaneled, sworn and charged to inquire of offenses committed in the body of the county of Dallas, in said state of Texas, upon their oaths do present unto the district court of said county of Dallas and state of Texas, that John Younger and Thomas Porter, late of said Dallas county, on the ---- day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy-one, with force and arms in the county and state aforesaid, in and upon one James McMahon in the peace of God and our said state then and there being, feloniously, willfully and of their express malice aforethought did make an assault, and that the said John Younger and Thomas Porter with certain pistols, of the value of ten dollars each, then and there charged with gunpowder and leaden bullets, then and there feloniously, willfully and of their express malice aforethought did discharge and shoot off, to, against and upon the said James McMahon, and that the said John Younger and Thomas Porter, with the leaden bullets aforesaid out of the pistols aforesaid, then and there, by force of the gunpowder aforesaid, by the said John Younger and Thomas Porter, discharged and shot off as aforesaid, then and there feloniously, willfully and of their express malice aforethought, did strike, penetrate and wound the said James McMahon in and upon the breast of the said James McMahon, giving to the said James McMahon then and there with the leaden bullets aforesaid, so as aforesaid discharged and shot out of the pistols aforesaid, by the said John Younger and Thomas Porter in and upon the breast of the said James McMahon, one mortal wound of the depth of eight inches and of the breadth of one-half inch, of which said mortal wound the said James McMahon then and there instantly died. And so the jurors aforesaid do say that the said John Younger and Thomas Porter, in the manner and by the means aforesaid, feloniously, willfully and of their express malice aforethought did kill and murder, contrary to the form of the statute in such case made and provided and against the peace and dignity of the state (Signed) F. A. S
AYN,
          Foreman of the Grand Jury.

     The document is endorsed: No. 1070, the state of Texas vs. John Younger and Thomas Porter, murder. A true bill. F. A. Sayn, foreman of the grand jury. Filed June 1, 1871. J. M. Caus, clerk.

THE PRESENT FORM.

     In the name and by the authority of the state of Texas, the grand jurors, good and lawful men of the county of Dallas and state of Texas, duly elected, tried, impaneled, sworn and charged to inquire of offenses committed within the body of said county of Dallas, upon their oaths, do present in and to the district court of Dallas county that one John Doe did, on the 18th day of December, in the year of our Lord, one thousand, eight hundred and ninety-two, with force and arms, in the county and state aforesaid, unlawfully, with malice aforethought, kill and murder one Richard Roe by shooting him with a pistol.
     And the grand jurors aforesaid upon their oath in said county do further present that the said John Doe did then and there unlawfully, with malice aforethought, kill and murder one Richard Roe by shooting him with a pistol, contrary to the form of the state in such cases made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the state.

FIRST STEP IN CRIME.

     The circumstances that led to the killing are well known to old timers, but recent comers may find them interesting as illustrative of dangers surrounding an officer's life in Dallas county twenty years ago.
     It appears that the Younger family was then living near Scyene, about 10 miles from Dallas, on the Kaufman road.
     The family was composed of four brothers and a sister--Cole, Jim, John, Robert and Henrietta. Cole and Jim are now serving a life sentence at Stillwater, Minn., penitentiary for complicity in the Northfield robbery. John was killed at Monte Vallo, Mo., in a fight with Pinkertons, and Robert died in the Stillwater penitentiary.
     Miss Henrietta is teaching school at Denison. Cole was the eldest of the family and exerted a powerful influence for good over the others, but at the time of the killing of McMahon and Nichols, was away from home in Louisiana.
     John was the next youngest to Robert, and a wild sort of boy, addicted to drink and dissolute associates. Among the latter was Tom Porter, a worthless fellow who led John into all sorts of mischief.
     On the day before the killing, John Younger and Tom Porter got on a spree and painted Scyene red. An old citizen of the neighborhood, fearing mischief, came to town and swore out a warrant against John Younger.
     Charley Nichols, deputy sheriff under Jerry Brown, was entrusted with its execution. He went out to Scyene early the next morning, and on arriving there, deputized Tom McMahon to assist him. He left the latter at a local store to await developments, and himself proceeded to the Younger house to serve his warrant. To provide against any possibility of escape, he stationed a guard at the barn to prevent Younger from having access to his horses.

THE OFFICERS WERE LENIENT.

     Nichols entered the house, read his warrant to John Younger, and as it was breakfast time, gave him the opportunity to finish his meal and report to him at the store. Nichols then returned to the store, and in company with McMahon, sat near the stove awaiting Younger's arrival.
     The later did not tarry long. No sooner was Nichols out of sight than Younger and Porter made a break for the barn, overpowered the guard, secured horses and rode rapidly to Scyene. Arriving at the store, they dismounted and began firing on Nichols and Porter, both of whom fell mortally wounded. Nichols, hurt to death as we was, was game enough to return fire and succeeded in sending a bullet through John Younger's right arm.
     The two assassins, having finished their deadly work, remounted their horses and made good their escape. Porter was never afterward heard from and John Younger died at Monte Vallo, as above noted.
     Ex-County Judge Bower knew the Youngers well and served in the army with Cole, whom he describes as a brave and gallant soldier, and as good a man before his advent into crime as he ever encountered. He says the Youngers came here to locate from Missouri, where Cole, as administrator of his father's estate, had left $30,000 on deposit in a bank at Pleasant Hill. The bank failed shortly after the tragedy above recorded and rendered the family penniless.
     This fact, together with the odium attaching to the family after the killing at Scyene, drove the male members of the family to desperation and brought about their life of outlawry.

- December 8, 1893, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 2, col. 1-2.
- o o o -


1933
The Story of My Grandmother, Belle Starr
__________

Some Fresh Light on Little Known
Periods in the Life Story Of the Woman Who Legend Says Gave Me to the Gypsies -- Her Sojourn in Scyene and Dallas -- A Trip Around the Horn and Up the Texas Cattle Trails -- The Indian Territory Adventures.

B
Y FLOSSIE

 Belle Starr, known as Queen of the Outlaws.

EDITOR'S NOTE -- This is the first of two articles written exclusively for The News by the granddaughter of Belle Starr. The second article will appear next Sunday in the Feature Section and will relate [to] the hitherto untold, romantic and dramatic story of Flossie. For personal reasons, the writer has preferred not to divulge her full name.

     SUPPOSE having been reared by conventional gentlefolk far from the South and unaware of your Southern heritage, you one day learned, after you were a woman grown, with a family of your own, that Belle Starr, known as the Queen of the Outlaws, was your grandmother.
     That is what happened to me. I am the daughter of Belle Star's daughter, Pearl. I am the child, which legend tells, was given to the gypsies. Since the day eight years ago that I learned this, I have talked with dozens of persons who knew Belle Starr. I have spent months among the Starrs in Oklahoma, who still speak of her as Aunt Belle, and have gone over every foot of ground around Younger's Bend, my grandmother's last home, which legend, aided by uninformed or careless writers, had furnished with a grand piano. Gradually, I have gathered her history. It differs in some points from what has been written about her heretofore, and casts new light upon certain periods of her life. Therefore, in the hope of sifting the false from the true, I am telling the story of Belle Starr, as I have found it through research and contact. To this, will be added, for the first time in print, the story of myself, the long lost child, about whom much fiction has been passed around.
     The life of Belle Starr, born Myra Maebelle Shirley, was indissolubly woven with the history of our pioneer States -- their growth, their problems and conflicts. A scout in Missouri for the Confederacy, she came to Texas in its early days, and from Texas, returned over the newly made cattle trails to the Midwest States, which were making history.
     Her story begins in Carthage, Mo., where, in the library, now hangs a copy of the Southwest News, dated March 29, 1861. In that newspaper, is an advertisement that is of particular interest to me, for it reads:

Carthage Hotel
North Side of Public Square
Carthage, Missouri.
John Shirley, Proprietor.

Horses and hacks for hire.
A good stable attached. 

     The tavern keeper was Myra Shirley's father. At this time, she was a beautiful girl, full of life and afraid of nothing. With her twin brother, Edward, she rode over the country on a handsome mount; she had been riding almost since babyhood.
     The Shirleys had come from Virginia in about 1842, and had bought a large tract of land a little south of Medoc, on the ground where Georgia City is now plotted out. Their oldest boy, Preston, was born in the early '40s. A little home in which he lived after the Civil War is still pointed out in Carthage. The twins, Edward and Myra, were born Feb. 3, 1848, and they were about 10 years old when the family moved from Medoc to Carthage.
     A young man from Georgia, named George W. Broome, came to Jasper County and bought a lot of land. He bought out John Shirley, and Shirley moved to Carthage, then a growing city of about 400 population, and opened a hotel on the north side of the square, his property covering almost a block. The hotel was probably brick, with slave quarters in the rear, as this was the general plan of the larger homes of that day.
     The tavern played its part in the history of Missouri. Travelers stopping there swapped news and yarns. John Shirley was generous and well-liked in the community, and soon his place was known throughout the country. Mrs. Shirley was a sweet, retiring little woman, who was glad to make everyone comfortable and happy.
     In fact, it was a comfortable life -- one with plenty of entertainment and pleasure. It gave Myra a poise and a training that few girls of that day received. It pulled her out of a narrow existence and gave her a broad outlook on the events of the day.
     The Shirleys were Southerners and for the South to the last drop of blood in their veins, but when the first shot was fired at Fort Sumter, little did they dream that Myra Shirley's life would be changed by the Civil War so completely, that she would later be classed as an outlaw.
     The warfare in Southeastern Missouri was linked with guerrilla warfare. General Price, seeing a chance to [thwart] the Northerners, who were [infesting] the State of Missouri, encouraged the use of the guerrillas, and throughout the war, Jasper County had to fight for its life. Ritchie and his Indians, Jennison's band, and the Kansas Red-Legs were going through the country destroying and pillaging as they went. Southerners burned their own buildings, rather than see them used by the Federals. In the early part of 1863, a company of men from Jasper County, among them, Ed Shirley, went to join the intrepid Gen. Joe Shelby. And, Myra began carrying messages and scouting for the Confederates. Not for nothing had she ridden all of her life; and, with her wit and ingenuity, she was able to learn much that was of value. The Federal officers did not care to interfere with a girl from a family as popular as John Shirley's was, and she went her way unmolested.
     But, one day, Major Eno had her brought to him. As he was from Newtonia, he knew the Shirleys and was convinced that Myra was scouting for the Southern army. On this day, Myra had discovered that the Federals were planning to take Ed, who had come home for a short visit. Trying to hide her apprehension, she had started home, cantering along as unconcernedly as possible. So, it was with a feeling of consternation, that she faced Major Eno, begging him to let her proceed, as she was merely out for the ride. But, it was late afternoon before Major Eno told her that she might go. He was a gentleman and had no desire to torture her. And, feeling sure that his men had taken Ed by this time, he bade her good-bye. To his amazement, she mounted her pony and cut across the country, lashing the pony at every step. And, he knew then that she had thwarted him once more.
     As the Federals drew rein at the Shirley house, they were met by Myra, who said, "Ed has gone again. Could I do anything for you?"
     Carthage was the scene of a good many skirmishes and two battles. The Federal militia burned the homes of Southern sympathizers, and Federals under Clayton did many acts which embittered the secessionists. Ritchie, with his second Indian home guard, was a terror to the country, and with the white troops from Kansas, was robbing friends and foe alike. Colonel Weer wrote to headquarters in Kansas, as follows: "Col. Ritchie utterly refuses to obey my orders. . . His presence in the army is nothing but embarrassment to the service." Carthage was in a turmoil, and a bitter hate was growing in the heart of more than one Southerner -- a hate that even time did not eradicate.

The Death of Ed.
     In 1864, about the month of June, Ed Shirley was killed while eating dinner at Mrs. Stewart's residence.
     Quoting from Ward L. Schrontz's book, "Jasper County in the Civil War," Mrs. Musgrove says: "I think that it was at the close of the war that Bud (Ed) Shirley was killed and Milt Norris was shot at Mrs. Stewart's residence not far from my home. I went over and helped take care of the dead body of Shirley afterward. . . . A company of State militia Union men was camped at Cave Springs, not far north of Sarcoxie and were watching for them. While the two men were in Mrs. Stewart's house getting fed, the militia surrounded the house. Both men broke and ran. Shirley was shot as he leaped over the fence and fell dead on the other side. Norris got a rifle ball scratch on his side as he went over the fence, but was not much hurt and escaped in the brush where he could not be seen.
     "Norris came to Carthage posthaste and told the Shirleys of Bud's death. Next day, Shirley's mother and Myra Shirley, the 16-year-old sister of Shirley, appeared at Sarcoxie, the latter with a belt around her waist, from which swung two big revolvers, one on each side. She was not timid in making it known among those she saw that she meant to get revenge for her brother's death.
     "Next morn, the militia returned and burned Mrs. Stewart's home for harboring the bushwhackers and also burned Mrs. Walton's home nearby, as she had assisted in entertaining the bushwhackers.
     "This burning was done by a Lieutenant of Captain Stott's, and I have always understood that Captain Stott did not approve of it when he heard of it."
     No doubt, as the men were from the State militia, and known in the country, Ed's slayer was soon known to all.
     So, at 16, a fierce black hate had grown in the heart of Myra Shirley. The twin brother who had been her playmate and companion had been brutally slain. In her mind, the South had done nothing but defend their rights. The North was the invader.
     The year 1864 only heaped more tragedy on Jasper County. The Shirley house was marked as a meeting place for the Southern soldiers and guerrillas. Myra was carrying messages to and from the Southern army. Late in the summer of 1864, the Shirley house was burned. Mr. Shirley had received, but had not heeded, repeated warnings to leave the country. Now, with his house destroyed, he decided to move to Texas.
     Northern families turned to Kansas for protection, many from Jasper County going to Fort Scott. But, Texas, with its open range -- a new frontier State with its acres of land -- was a mecca to the Missourians with secession tendencies. In Texas, they were sure of sympathy and protection. Texas was a slave State. "It was part and parcel of the South."
     So, the family again emigrated, and near Scyene, not far from the little city of Dallas, John Shirley bought a farm and started a new home. And, Myra Shirley's life was again linked with a pioneer State.

After the Mavericks.
     At the close of the war, many families from the neighboring States began filling their depleted herds of cattle from the cattle in Texas. Texans had a free range, and as the farmers who had gone to war had not sorted out their cattle and branded them, there was a great bunch of unbranded cattle roaming on the plains. Men coming in could by a few cattle and "run in" some mavericks.
     Among a group of the young men who came from Missouri on such a mission was James Reed, whose home was near Rich Hill, Mo. He had fought in the company along with Ed Shirley, as had most of the boys with him. Finding that old John Shirley, as Myra's father was affectionately spoke of, lived in the neighborhood, the boys went over for a little visit. It was time of great rejoicing, and many a battle of the Civil War was fought again. And, before the boys left, Myra said that she would marry the boy who would avenge her brother's death.

Married in Texas.
     At this time, Myra was a beautiful girl, vivacious, daring and full of life. Her hair was a dark brown, almost black. Her eyes, a dark brown, were alive with feeling. She was not quite five feet tall. She could jump on her horse bareback and ride off across the country with any of the boys. James Reed was fascinated with her and resolved that he would be the one to win her hand.
     And, in a year, James Reed, riding back to Texas, accompanied by about twenty of the men from Shelby's old company, came to claim Myra Shirley as his bride. The Shirleys objected, so slipping away one afternoon, the couple found a rendezvous in the woods and Myra and James were married by one of the company who was a Justice of the Peace. This was in 1866.
     The Shirleys were not reconciled to the match and hid Myra, finally at her older brother's -- for Preston had taken a little farm in Palo Pinto County. But, they didn't reckon with their son-in-law. Riding up one day, James Reed brought an older sister, ostensibly for the visit. The scheme was not entirely to her liking, but she could not refuse this lovable younger brother. And, by listening closely, she discovered Myra's whereabouts. After a courteous farewell, James and the sister started for Palo Pinto County, and again, Myra was taken back to the Reed farm in Missouri.

Tom Starr's Place.
     And, in 1869, Myra gave birth to a baby girl, whom she named Pearl. The Reeds wanted her named Rosie Lee, and through the years, they called the little girl, Rosie Lee and Myra held to the name of Pearl.
     The mother of James Reed took care of Myra and this baby, and in later years, it was to Grandma Reed that Pearl turned when she needed the same love and care and nursing.
     In 1869, James Reed became a real fugitive from justice. It was customary for the boys in a neighborhood to train a horse and take it to the county fairs. James Reed and some Shannon boys took a horse to the races in Fort Smith. A dispute arose with the Fisher boys as to which horse really won the race. In the quarrel that followed, Jim Reed's youngest brother, Scott Reed, was shot by mistake. James Reed took the law into his own hands and killed Scott's slayer. The quarrel almost assumed the proportion of a neighborhood feud.
     His friends slipped James Reed away to Tom Starr's place in the Indian Territory. Tom Starr was a Cherokee Indian living on his land in the Indian Territory. Tom Starr never refused hospitality to any one and many and of varied types were the men who found a refuge at his home. Not all who came were outlaws, however. A man slipped in one day and Tom Starr asked him to take dinner with them. The visitor stayed exactly one year, and on leaving, he said to Tom, "Tom, maybe you'd like to know who I am. I have been here a year and have not found out one thing. I am a Government officer."

California and Around the Horn.
     Myra Shirley's life from now on was as colorful as any of our frontier characters. It covered the United States from the State of California to Younger's Bend -- from the Pacific and a trip around Cape Horn to the Canadian River in the old Indian Territory.
     Many a woman would not have followed her husband to such a life of fate. But, Myra Reed stood by James Reed throughout the years. Feeling insecure, even in the Indian Territory, they fled to California and settled in Los Angeles. That was in 1870. James went across the country on horseback and Myra, with her baby, made the trip by stage coach.
     The time that they spent in California was the happiest period in their lives. Years afterward, Myra could not speak of it without a trace of bitterness and regret. In California, in 1871, Myra's baby boy was born, and in memory of the brother buried in Missouri, she named her son, Edward. On horseback, Myra and James explored Southern California and went across into old Mexico. But, counterfeit money began floating and while James Reed had nothing to do with it, in the investigation, the officers learned that he was wanted in Arkansas.
     And again, this couple laid their plans to leave the country and trust to fate that they might meet once more. Their destination was the Shirley home in Scyene, Texas. But, James slipped through the country, following the bridle trails by night; and Myra took her two babies and made the trip by boat, around Cape Horn.

Home Again in Texas.
     The Shirleys were glad to have the couple with them again. The years of separation had not been easy. It left them with one little boy at home, who went by the name of Shug.

A page from Belle Starr's scrapbook: the photograph is of her mother, Mrs. John Shirley. The wreath is an ornately colored cutout, such as was featured in magazines of the '70s, laid over the picture and holding it in place. 

     There is nothing that I would love better than to hear from this boy, Shug. I have never found a trace of him or his family, and it would be a wonderful pleasure to me to hear from this man or any of his children.
     James and Myra moved in with the Shirleys, who were now living in Scyene, in a three-room cottage, located almost directly back of where the schoolhouse now stands. I have not been able to find out what year they moved to town, or what happened to John Shirley's farm. Mrs. L. B. Thompson, of Scyene, who was the daughter of John McDaniel, has given me a good picture of Myra at this period.
     John Shirley was "getting on" in years then, and, Mrs. Thompson said, was liked and respected by all who knew him. Before many years, he was to die in Scyene, and I have reason to believe, is buried in Pleasant Mound Cemetery near by, although I have been unable to locate his grave.
     It was the dashing Myra who fascinated little Alzira McDaniel. Born in 1865, Mrs. Thompson thinks she was about 10 when, on the way to school, walking alone at times, she would meet Myra Reed riding down the road, and her heart would thump until she could hardly speak.
     "What did you think she would do to you?" I asked her.
     "Law, I don't know," Mrs. Thompson said. "She would smile always and say, 'Good morning' or 'Good evening.' But, I knew she was a desperate woman and had heard she carried two great big pistols up there on her saddle, and I was scared.
     "She was a pretty woman, and sure could ride. She usually wore a long black habit with a tight bodice and a skirt that trailed nearly to the ground.
     "She rode around with the Younger boys some. They lived here then with their sister, on this site where my home now is. The house in which they lived was moved back to make room for mine, and the old house used as a storehouse until about six months ago, when it was torn down. Myra Reed was out on her horse all times of day. Jim Reed was a tall and rather nice looking man. I recall that they had two children and I think the girl, Pearl, went to school here."
     The Reeds again turned to horses for their livelihood. Myra had three things in life of which she was passionately fond -- horses, books and music. History was her hobby. She cared nothing whatever for fiction. A set of books in my possession today, which I think were hers, related the histories of the Kings and Queens of Europe.
     In her later years, she entertained Judge Parker of Fort Smith in his home with her music. She played a medley of old Southern airs, and as she played "Dixie," the tears rolled down her cheeks.
     But, horses were perhaps the biggest thing in her life. James and Myra took a little farm close to Dallas and opened their stables of fine horses. But, it was soon known that there was a price on his head and he took to the scout again. Myra kept the stables open and kept her string of race horses. Men admired her pluck and courage, and she made many friends among them. Loyal herself to her friends, she brought out a spirit of loyalty in them.
     Loyalty was one of her finest traits. True, it might have been the thing that later was her undoing. But, she never would admit it. Once your friend, she stuck to the bitter end.

The Only Way She Knew.
     Leaving the children with the Shirleys, Myra would ride across the country with Jim Reed to the Starr's. Perhaps a woman who has lived a sheltered life -- a home woman, if I may call her that -- perhaps, that woman would never understand Myra Reed's life. But, Myra met the problems that came into her life in the only way that she knew. She loved James Reed and had unlimited courage to stand by him.
     One time, in starting across the country for Dallas, Myra purchased a suit of black cloth and went in the guise of a young professional man. Passing through the old town of Bonham, she stopped at the Riggs House for supper. Tired and weary, she almost fell asleep as she sat by the fire. Among the guests at the Bonham hotel was a Dallas Judge, whose name was -- let us say -- Blank. Myra Reed and James were discussed freely as their names had been mentioned with the Watt Grayson robbery. The Judge said that he knew Myra Reed, but knew no good of her. The proprietor begged him to say nothing against her.
     "Why," said he, "She can dress in a man's clothes and fix up her face and eyes in such a shape, that her daddy couldn't recognize her. Don't say anything against her. She's dangerous."
     Judge Blank laughed.
     "She can't fool me," he said. "I'd know her eyes if they were growing out of cabbage head."
     The conversation continued until a hack drew up to the door and several newcomers entered the hotel, searching for lodging for the night. The landlord said he would be happy to oblige them, if some of the guests would not object to doubling up. He asked Judge Blank if he would be willing to sleep "with the young man in the corner, yonder," and pointed to Myra.
     Up in the room, Myra lay awake, facing the risk of discovery. Before daylight, she was out in the stable, caring for her horse. She sent a boy into the hotel to ask Judge Blank to come out; that Myra Reed wanted to see him. Imagine his astonishment when the "young man" that had been his bedfellow came toward him, saying, "Tell the folks that you have had the honor of meeting Myra Reed." And, striking him with her riding whip, she mounted her horse and rode off like a streak.

A Rescue in Black.
     Usually, when they traveled through the country, Myra and Jim took separate trails. One time, heading for Texas and Dallas, they decided to stay together. James was arrested in a little town and Myra would not leave. The next day, she went to see him and slipped him a spool of black thread. She slipped around to the window of James' cell and found a note hanging from the thread. The note told her what to do.
     Next morning, Myra went to the jail wearing a black dress of the type any old lady would be likely to affect and a heavy black veil. As she went by, she stopped and chatted with the jailer. Myra had a nice visit with Jim, and the jailer let out the neat little old lady. Some time passed before it was discovered that the "man" sitting in James Reed's cell was Myra Reed!
     She argued, smiling blandly, "I am Jim Reed's wife and I want out. I am guilty of no crime." The jailer said, "Don't you know there is a reward on Jim's head?"
     Myra declared she knew nothing about it. And continued, "I'd just as leave be here as out. It will give Jim a little rest for me to stay in his place for a while."
     The next day, she began again, saying, "I am innocent of any crime. The Bible says a woman should cleave to her husband. I only did my duty." She insisted that she was willing to stay and said, "You ought to be glad I only helped Jim get out. What if I had sent up tools and let all these jailbirds out? I tried to do the fair thing, and it is only my love for Jimmie, my husband, that causes me to be here at all."
     Years afterward, she would convulse the crowd, telling how she had dressed Jimmie up in her clothes. She always insisted that the jailer was convinced with her argument that a "woman should cleave to her husband."

Death and a Wife's Defiance.
     In the summer of 1875, the thing that James and Myra had dreaded through the years, happened. A friend betrayed James for the price on his head. It was a sad time for Myra, but she determined that the betrayer should not receive the reward. James Reed and John Morris had been traveling together and stopped at Reed's home for a few days. A few days later, they rode up to a farmhouse near McKinney, Collin County. In going in for dinner, Morris persuaded Jim to leave his guns on the saddle. And, this once, Jim weakened. No sooner had he sat down, than Morris found an excuse to leave the room and James realized what he had done.
     As Morris entered the room, James grabbed the table and tried to get behind it as a shield. But, Morris had fired the fatal shot. In order for him to collect the reward, it was necessary for the body to be identified, and so, Myra was sent for. Morris expected her to break down when she saw James Reed lying there dead. But, he did not know Myra Reed. Throwing her head back, with flashing eyes, she said, "If you want the reward for Jim Reed, you will have to get Jim Reed. But, this is not him."
     The men were astounded. There was nothing they could do, and so, James Reed was buried in an unmarked grave. Not even before death could Myra Shirley show her grief to the world. Years afterward, she pasted this poem in her scrapbook:

Life has a burden for everyone's
           shoulder,
     None may escape from its burdens
           and care;
Miss it in youth, 'twill come when
           we're older
     And fit us as close as the garments
           we wear.

Sorrow comes into our homes un-
           invited,
     Robbing our hearts of its treasures
           of song,
Lovers grow cold and our friendship
           is slighted
     Yet somehow or other we worry
           along.

Midst the sweet blossoms that smile
           in our faces
     Grow the rank weeds that would
           poison and blight,
And eager in the midst of earth's
           beautiful places
     There always is something that isn't
           quite right.

But somehow or other as the path-
           way grows brighter
     Just when we mourn there was
           none to befriend
Hope in the heart makes the burden
           grow lighter
     And somehow or other we get to
           the end.

     She returned home to Scyene, but the following year was full of many hardships. Her son, Eddie, was not strong and seemed to be failing in health. John Shirley passed away, and finally, when Mrs. Shirley moved away, Myra moved to the edge of Dallas and opened a livery stable. Old friends of James Reed helped her, and finally it was intimated that some of her horses had reached her stable by a circuitous route.
     Texans, in that day, had a way of taking the law into their own hands and punishing their criminals. This woman had the courage and temerity of the strongest of them, and they laughed at many an escapade in which she found herself. Of course, a horse thief was not thought much of in Texas. But, stealing from "a damned Yankee" and stealing from a Texan, were two different things. And, Myra Reed never stole a horse from a Texan! Finally, she was accused openly of having some horses that had been stolen. She was sent to jail in Dallas, and it might have proven disastrous had not the Deputy Sheriff fallen hopelessly in love with her. And, with her love of adventure, she saw a means of escape. An elopement was planned. A month later, a sadder and a wiser man returned to the bosom of his family. He came alone, and complaining terribly that he had been flunky through all the trip, caring for the fires, doing the cooking over the camp fires and being a handy man, in general.
     Myra had gone on to the Indian territory. The children were with their Grandmother Reed in Missouri. Gradually, she gathered a group of men together and it is a significant fact, that at this time, the cattle business in Texas was flourishing. Many women joined the men in the trail drives, often doing the cooking. But, Myra was not back wit the chuck wagons.
     She was interested in the cattle trade -- it fascinated her. Men found her to be a judge of stock worth listening to. Many men were said to have been her admirers through these years, but very few names were linked with hers. Blue Duck played some part in her life, for she later spent a large sum of money clearing him of a charge and getting him out of prison.
     On one of their drives to Dodge City, with their cattle disposed of, Blue Duck proceeded to the main gambling room of the town and lost the cattle money, a sum of $7,000. Myra's anger knew no bounds, and taking her pistols in her hands, she held up the game and demanded the money back. And the men, looking into her steely eyes and into the muzzle of her guns, decided maybe they had overdone it a little in taking so much. And, she stalked from the room with the money.
     Through these years, Myra's life held a great many experiences. Mr. --- of Nebraska has written me many amusing accounts of this period. He was among her followers for several years. But, he tells me, in all sincerity, the Myra Reed did not steal [horses] or cattle. Of course, anyone who knows the history of the cattle business, knows it was impossible for a man to cull the cattle and take only his own animals. Men bought and sold each other's cattle and then [set]tled up every few months at a stockers' meeting. Perhaps Myra and her men did not show up at these stockers' meeting as often as they should. But, Texans let it pass. If a widow got a few more calves than belonged to her, they were not the ones to say anything.

Married Bruce Younger.
     There is one episode in Myra's life during these years that has never been known except to a few. The name of Younger has been connected with that of Myra a great many times. Myra Reed was married to Bruce Younger about 1878. She was never married to Cole Younger. But, in about the hear named, she met Bruce Younger in Coffeyville, Kan., and they were married. They did not live together very long.
     And gradually, the Indian Territory and the Canadian were luring Myra Reed, and she was spending more and more time at Uncle Tom Starr's. In the year 1880, Sam Starr, one of Tom's younger sons, and Myra Reed were married by Judge Abe Woodall. She was 32 and he was in the early 20s. However, they were not so unevenly matched. Myra Reed had remained as agile and lithe as a girl. She could outride most men on a day's trip. Her sense of humor never left her. She was a good sport, taking her share of hardships or the blame when things went wrong.

The grave of Belle Starr in the yard of her last home in Younger's Bend, Oklahoma. Her cabin, shown in the picture, has now been razed.


(Next Sunday: "The Story of Flossie." Don't miss this
exciting and human story of an adopted child.)

- April 30, 1933, The Dallas Morning News,
Sec. IV, p. 1, col. 1-8; cont. on p. 2, col. 7-8.
- o o o -


1933
The Story of Flossie,
Belle Starr's Granddaughter

______

Reared Far From the Tragedy of Younger's Bend, I Was A Woman Grown With a Family of My Own Before I Ever Heard of Belle Starr and Then I Learned the Woman Known as the Queen of the Outlaws Was My Grandmother -- How I Was Placed in an Orphanage; How Many Years Later I Found My Mother Is Here; Disclosed for the First Time.

By Flossie

(Copyright, 1933, by The Dallas Morning News).

EDITOR'S NOTE -- This is the second of two articles written exclusively for The News by the granddaughter of Belle Starr, relating for the first time in any newspaper, the story of the lost child, Flossie. For personal reasons, the writer has preferred not to sign her full name.

     When Myra Reed married Sam Starr, she intended to put all her old life behind her. She had learned to love the Indian Territory and had met a "friendship" there she had failed to find elsewhere. People did not question her actions or her motives, and Uncle Tom Starr's folks liked her. She planned a little home secluded from the eyes of the world, where she could have her children with her and live quietly.
     As she had been christened Myra Maebelle, she decided now to take the name of Belle Starr. Always sensing the dramatic, she saw the possibilities in the name and liked it.
     Uncle Tom welcomed his new daughter-in-law in good nature, and in a few days, the couple bought a piece of land in the bend of the Canadian River. This spot was named Younger's Bend by Belle. Much has been said about this place. It has been pictured as a magnificent plantation -- 1,000 acres all together. I believe one writer claimed. And, with outlaws cleaning their guns and watching -- always on the outlook for the picturesque officers who popped up out of nowhere by the dozens -- and with Belle's daughter, Pearl, practicing "assiduously on the grand piano," it was truly a beautiful picture.
     The truth is, that while it was "open country," only the Indians could take the land, as it was every inch Indian Territory . And, the Indians could take only as many acres as was allotted to them, according to the degree of Indian blood possessed. Younger's Bend was in the Cherokee land. Sam Starr had possibly 100 acres, but it was in the reservation which Tom had chosen for his family.
     When Sam and Myra, or Belle, as she wanted to be called, went up to the Bend, they bought ten acres!

Calico Walls.
     The little cabin was about fifteen by twenty feet, with a large fireplace on one side. A lean-to kitchen was built at the back. Belle made it as attractive as a little cabin could be made. She went to Fort Smith and bought white calico with a little sprig of flowers pattern and covered the walls. Horns were put up around the room. A pretty little lamp adorned a table, and some books that she had managed to keep, were placed on a shelf. A bed stood in one corner, and with a few chairs, the cabin was complete.
     And here, Belle Starr spent the remainder of her life. Very few women of that day had traveled any more, and still she was willing to spend her life among these people, nursing their sick, attending their dances and parties, riding back and forth to Fort Smith on horseback or driving a lumber wagon and taking the children.
     She wore the finest of riding habits, a black velvet being her favorite. She liked trimmings of leather and used little fine leather straps and buckles a great deal. In Fort Smith, she bought the finest of shoes and gloves, for her small feet and hands were her pride. For her hats, she bought Stetsons and turning back the brim usually trimmed the hat with a big plume. No wonder, in the Indian Territory country, she became a conspicuous figure, and women, less brave and gay, learned to watch for her and waited for her to pass by.
     In Fort Smith, she bought two revolvers. I talked to the man who made the holster for the left side. She studied a long time whether to buy the revolvers, or whether to buy an organ for Pearl, and she bought the revolvers. They were the only weapons which she carried. Men who were at the Bend said she never used a rifle or kept one about her.
     But, she loved her revolvers and called them "my babies." Sam and she[?] rode a great deal, and she became a more expert marksman than before. One pastime they engaged in those days, was to ride as fast as they could and shoot at the skeleton of a horse's head, which they had hung to a tree.

Ed Reed, Belle's son, named for her brother, Edward, who was killed in
the Civil War. He went to school in Scyene.

A Visit From Jesse James.
     And one day, one of the James boys came in -- James Reed had grown up close to the James boys. They had been "on the scout" together. And, when Jesse James came back with, "Aw, come on, Belle, hide us for just a little while," she could not turn him down. And, again, she was pulled into the old life. There was a canyon back of the bend where the men could hide, and it gradually came to be known as Belle Starr Canyon. A cave was back in there, in which the men could easily hide for days. The officers were afraid to prowl around too promiscuously -- although, I do not question their bravery. Belle would send food to the men and it became a hideout for men who were wanted badly in the States.

Palmy Days of Fort Smith.
     It might not be amiss to tell a little of the history of Fort Smith for my younger readers. A military post was placed there in 1816, and named Fort Smith, after Gen. Thomas A. Smith, who selected the site, but, it was abandoned in 1830. Arkansas was admitted as a State, June 15, 1836, just about the time that the Cherokee Indians were being moved from Georgia to the reservation in the southeast corner of the Indian Territory.
     There was a great deal of trouble among the Cherokees, for in the removal, they had separated into three factions: Those who had previously moved to the Territory and were very friendly toward the whites; the "Treaty Party," that had been, but lately moved, but were friendly toward the whites; and, the "Ross Party," which had fought the move bitterly. Because of this unrest, it was decided to open the fort again, this time, about a quarter of a mile from the original stockade.
     A great deal of interesting history centers around this court and the settling of this part of the country. Abandoned again in 1870, in 1871, the famous United States Criminal Court was opened at Fort Smith as an office of the Judge of the Western District of Arkansas.
     On May 10, 1875, Judge Parker was appointed District Judge, and then began a history that stands unique and alone in the history of the courts of the United States. Criminals and outlaws fled to the Indian Territory, because no one but a United States officer could arrest them there. The Indians were not feeling any too kindly toward the United States Government and the white man, and, if a few outlaws came into the territory, it was not the Indians' business to report it.
     Judge Parker became the arbiter of the law, for this court had exclusive, original and final jurisdiction over all crimes committed in the Indian Territory and in No Man's Land. In a little more than twenty-one years, 13,490 cases were docketed, not to mention the petty cases that got no farther than the Commissioners' Court.
     Men hiding in the Indian Territory and out at Younger's Bend had little to fear. But, the officers began to suspect Belle, and more and more, as time went on, felt she was the brains behind many acts of dare-deviltry. And, again her plans for a little home with her children were gone, this time forever.
     It is hard to conjecture what might have happened had she lived. Time and age should soften us all -- should make us the broader, the more charitable and loving. And, my sympathies are with the person, man or woman, who can not feel all that as the years pass by.
     But, Belle Starr was killed on her forty-first birthday -- just at a time when she was feeling the most bitter toward life.

A Home for an Orphan.
     On one of her visits to the Reeds, she met a girl by the name of Mabel Harrison, who was related to the Reeds in some way, and had come to Aunt Susan Reed's for protection. She was a beautiful little girl, about 15 years old, with big blue eyes and lovely yellow hair. Her life had seen much of tragedy, for her mother had been shot before her eyes and killed instantly. Her father had a sum of money in the house to make the last payment on their little farm. Some men who claimed to be officers, came and said they were there to search the house, planning to rob Mr. Harrison of the money. Of course, he resisted them and Mrs. Harrison, who was sitting in line with the door, nursing a baby, was shot. The men, seeing what they had done, fled.
     Belle asked Mabel if she would like to go home with her and live with Pearl. And today, a frail little woman in Missouri can tell you more about the real Younger's Bend than perhaps anyone living.
     Belle sent the children to the little neighborhood school house close to Briartown, in what is now Muskogee County. Tuition paid by the pupils kept up the school. The students were mostly of Indian blood, with some among them full-blooded Indians. It was a care-free life, and the girls could mount there horses and ride all through the country.

A Sojourn in Detroit.
     Belle often was gone two and three weeks at a time. In the autumn of 1882, Belle and Sam were sentenced to a term in the House of Correction in Detroit, Mich. An ironic sidelight was that they had not committed the crime of which they were accused. Never dreaming, but that they would be cleared, they rode into Fort Smith and gave themselves up willingly.
     The trouble had arisen over a young black stallion of Pearl's. Belle always gave the children a horse or two, and this horse had become a nuisance to the neighbors. It had been shot -- but accidentally -- by a neighbor. One day, as Belle was with the Wests, they told her who had shot the horse and said the man had one equally as good that Sam ought to take. It is claimed that a certain man heard the conversation, and as he was planing to leave the country, he caught the neighbor's horse and rode off on it. Of course, suspicion pointed to Sam and Belle, and they were arrested.

A Letter to Pearl.
     Belle sent the girls to Mama Mac, a woman who lived close to Briartown on a little Indian farm. She took care of Pearl a great deal and Pearl loved her. Belle faced a prison sentence with the same poise with which she had met other tragedies in her life. A letter that she wrote to Pearl at this time will show us a little of her outlook. I quite it word for word from S. W. Harman's "Hell on the Border." However, I have talked to people who say she wrote the letter and Pearl received it.
     "My dear little one. It is useless to attempt to conceal my trouble from you, and though you are nothing but a child, I have confidence that my darling will bear with fortitude what I now write.
     "I shall be away from you a few months, baby, and have only this consolation to offer you, that never again, will I be placed in such humiliating circumstances, and that in the future, your little tender heart shall never more ache, or a blush be called to your cheek on your mother's account. Sam and I were tried here, John West, the main witness against us. We were found guilty and sentenced to nine months at the house of correction, Detroit, Mich., for which place we start in the morning. Now, Pearl, there is a vast difference in that place and a penitentiary; you must bear that in mind and not think of Mama being shut up in a gloomy prison. It is said to be one of the finest institutions in the United States, surrounded by a beautiful grounds, with fountains and everything nice. There, I can have my education renewed, and I stand sadly in need of it. Sam will have to attend school, and I think it is the best thing [that] ever happened for him, and now, you must not be unhappy and brood over our absence. It won't take the time long to glide by, and as we come home, we will get you, and then, we will have such a nice time.
     "We will get your horse up and I will break him and you can ride John, while I am gentling Loco. We will have Eddie with us and will be as gay and happy as the birds we claim at home. Now, baby, you can either stay with grandma or your Mama Mac, just as you like, and do the best that you can until I come back, which won't be long. Tell Eddie that he can go down home with us and have a good time hunting, and though I wish not to deprive Marion and Ma of him for any length of time, yet, I must keep him awhile. Love to Ma and Marion.
     "Uncle Tom has stood by me nobly in our trouble, done everything that one could do. Now, baby, I will write to you often. You must write to your Grandma, but don't tell her of this, and to your Aunt Ellen, Mama Mac; but, to no one else. Remember, I don't care who writes to you, you must not answer. I say this, because I do not want you to correspond with any one in the Indian Territory. My baby, sweet little one, and you must mind me. Except Auntie -- if you wish to hear from me, Auntie will let you know. If you should write me, Ma would find out where I am and Pearl, you must never let her know. Her head is overburdened with care now, and therefore, you must keep this carefully guarded from her.
     "Destroy this letter as soon as read. As I told you before, if you wish to stay awhile with your Mama Ma, I am willing. But, you must devote your time to your studies. Bye, bye, sweet baby mine.
"(Signed) B
ELLE STARR."

     She was placing a good deal of responsibility on Pearl, who was 13 years old at this time. Pearl had learned to rely on herself, but these years were full of many lonesome times for the little girl. Pearl had developed late, a beautiful girl with hazel brown hair, blue eyes and a lovely pink and white skin. Added to such charms was her pleasing personality, so that it was no wonder the men at the Bend called her the Canadian Lily. The hardest thing Belle had to face was leaving Pearl at this time in her life.
     But, the stay in Detroit was not all bad. On reaching there, Sam and Belle were taken to the chair bottoming department. The warden said "take a chair," intending for them to choose a chair and put in a new bottom of splint or cane. Belle said, "no, thank you; I would much rather stand."
     Belle made friends among the matrons and the assistants, and before long, the warden called her to him. He told her that he could give her many little privileges if she would do right, and he asked her if she would like to tutor his children in French and music. She wasn't especially glad to teach, but, she saw a means of escaping many unpleasant duties in the routine of the prison life. And so, she consented.
     In time, a warm friendship grew between the warden and his family and Belle. And, for years afterward, when she was back in the Territory, he sent boxes of fruit to Belle and her family.
     Belle was capable of a warm, devoted friendship. But, she felt that so few people merited it. In the last few years, men have written me, defending her. When a baby was born to John West's wife, Belle came by and found Mrs. West lying there, depending on the older children for most of her care. Belle sent home for her clothes and stayed until Mrs. West was able to be up and around, even getting to name the baby. And, today, one of the West sons bears the name which Belle gave him.

A Cat Story.
     When Belle and Sam departed for Detroit, they left three cats at the Bend. When they came home, the cats began to spring up from everywhere, and exactly twenty-two kittens were counted. She and the girls laughed heartily many times as they thought of the kittens of all hues and sizes.
     She wouldn't have a chicken on the place, because she preferred a garden. Wherever she went, she brought back flowers and roots and seeds, and the dooryard at the Bend was a veritable flower garden. And, Pearl tamed two young fawns that played about, but there was no room for chickens. Wild turkeys were found so easily, that fowls were had plentifully. Belle did not like to cook, but she was a good cook and could get up as good a dinner as anyone. But, household cares were irksome.
     Books were her delight. And, when some neighbor woman came, who was tiresome to Belle, she would get a pillow and her books and maybe slip off and get in a wagon, and there she would spend the day. And, if Pearl came and said, "Why, Mamma, Mrs. ----- doesn't know what to think. You surely aren't going to hide out here all day!" Belle would say, "All she can talk about is pumpkins and babies! I can't stand such gab! No, I'm not coming in."

Ripping Billy's Duster.
     But, Belle could make herself interesting, and more than one square dance was enlivened by her fun and wit. Billy Hall told me, that one night, he was dancing with a linen duster on. As he danced past her, she grabbed the tail and it ripped. Each time they passed, she grabbed it, and each time, it ripped a little more. The crowd was convulsed with laughter at the capers they were cutting.
     But, when she felt she had a cause, her anger could be unbounded. Mr. Hall kept the mail at Whitefield. The little box hangs in the back of his store today. He cut letters out of the almanacs and pasted on the pigeon hole, and I looked on the one marked with an "S," wondering just what mail had lain there. Any molestation of her mail made her furious. Mr. Hall said he learned to never let anyone touch her mail or take it out to her.
     One night, she went to a dance very angry... she had heard that someone had said that my father could not take Pearl to the party. It was just a little neighborhood jealousy, but Belle went to the hostess and asked her if she had said such a thing. The woman, who was the mother of a friend of mine, said: "Now, Belle, you know nothing has been said. We have been friends here, and you know nothing like that was ever said." She pacified Belle, who took off her revolvers and asked the woman to keep them. And then, she stayed all night, and scrubbed the floor next morning.

Sunshine and Shadows.
     The first community chest might be ascribed to her. Hearing that a family was really suffering, she went down to see for herself. They were destitute and the children were crying with hunger. Belle got on her horse and went to a little store close by. The men saw "something was up," and with her hand on her revolver, she said: "Now boys, I'm going to take that family enough food to fill them up. How many are going to help me?" And, that little family didn't suffer for a while. She probably "prorated" the amount each man was to give!
     It was a life of sunshine and shadows. The women of the community saw nothing strange about their lives. They reared their children, kept their little cabins, visited with each other, went to the dances and attended church whenever they could get a preacher to come. Horses were the hobby of the community, and every girl had a horse to ride as soon as she was big enough. Belle entered the races throughout the country and won so many prizes, other women got so they would not ride against her. And then, she would send Mabel Harrison or Pearl in to win in her place.
     On Nov. 17, 1886, Sam Starr and Felix Griffin were arraigned in court on a postoffice charge. Belle, Pearl and Mabel had expected to be used as witnesses, and went to Fort Smith. The case was postponed until March 7, 1887, and they all started home.
     They stopped for the night at Whitefield, where they found a dance in progress at the home of Cooper Surratt's mother. Frank West was present and Sam accused him of killing his horse. In the quarrel that followed, the two men shot and killed each other. It is said that they shot almost simultaneously. Pearl rushed to Sam, holding his head as he lay dying. Belle and the girls took the body back to the Bend and he was buried in the Starr graveyard. And, they all grieved for him; Sam had been good to the girls, and today, Mabel Harrison speaks of him with respect and kindness.

 

Belle Starr's daughter, Pearl,
the mother of Flossie


     Pearl, at this time, was 17 and in love with a young man two years her senior, a part Cherokee from one of the best families. The young fellows in that community were nice looking, they dressed well, they had average educations and most of them were excellent horsemen. About the only objection Belle could have to Pearl's suitor was that he was a poor boy, but she openly fought the affair. Her consuming desire was for Pearl to marry a rich man -- "a man with at least $25,000."
     So, my mother told me, she and my father went to old Doc Bullard, who married the young people of the community, and were married secretly.
     One night, in about January, 1887, Mabel and Pearl had ridden into Briartown. A Mr. Kraft, a friend, had dropped in to talk to Belle. Belle suggested that they play a joke on the girls by dressing up in sheets and meeting them on the road. Mr. Kraft said, "Can it be, Belle, that you don't know ---- ?"
     And, in this way, my coming was announced to Belle Starr. No one can realize the bitterness that she tasted that night, or picture what this meant to her. Pearl had always been her pride and the center of her ambitions -- she wanted Pearl's life to have all the things her own had missed, and in the bright dreams she had held for her daughter, there had been no place for Younger's Bend.
     So, she laid a plan -- a livery man, quite wealthy, but older, had asked for Pearl's hand. Belle sent for him, and together, they planned that, as soon as a divorce could be arranged, he and Pearl should be married. But, when Belle told her daughter this, there was a bitter quarrel, and Pearl mounted her horse and went for a ride. And, Belle never saw her again, until after I was born and was 16 months old.
     Pearl rode to Fort Smith, and leaving her horse with the liveryman, whose hand she had refused, took the train for Grandma Reed's, at Rich Hill, Missouri. When she reached there, the family were in Wichita, Kan., on a visit, and an uncle, Marion, took her to Wichita. There, they held a family consultation. They all were afraid Belle would come, and they were terribly afraid of her. And so, Uncle Marion and Grandma Reed and my mother slipped away to Siloam Springs, Ark., where I was born, April 22, 1887. They kept Pearl and "little Mamie," as they called me, always hidden, until I was 16 months old.
     My father, back in the Territory, was driven almost insane. He was unable to find out a word concerning Pearl, from my grandmother. Finally, she told him Pearl had married again, this time a wealthy man. By Cherokee tribal law and custom, the mere "walking off" of my mother freed my father from his marriage vows, and, in a fit of anger and disappointment, he now married a friend of his school days.
     All this, while Belle had grieved until she was almost ill, and often walked the floor in great sobs. But, not once did she relent. She never forgot that a baby girl had come between her and Pearl, whose whereabouts she had suspected, but, she was too proud to ask questions. At last, she devised a plan to get Pearl home. Ed had been in some trouble and had been shot, but was getting along all right. Belle wrote to my mother in care of Grandma Reed, saying that Ed was not expected to lie and enclosing money for Pearl to come home. But, absolutely, she was not to bring me!

Threatened With the Gypsies.
     My mother told me that she had been berrying all day with some of the young folks of the neighborhood, and Grandma Reed met her with the letter. I was cutting teeth and had been crying most of the day. My mother said she took me in her arms and cried all night. All the old longing for her mother, the homesickness for Eddie, and the home at the Bend, the longing for my father -- now much there was to tell him -- surged over her. And, against her better judgment, she decided to leave me with Grandma Reed and go home.
     Upon reaching the Bend, she saw through Belle's ruse at once. Eddie was about well. Pearl, at once, wrote Aunt Mamie and asked her to go to Missouri and get me.
     What love these people showed for me! For, Aunt Mamie went immediately, then wrote my mother about the trip -- how she had dressed me in a little blue frock, the color of my eyes. I have the dress locked in my trunk now.
     But, this letter intended to comfort my mother, never reached her. Belle would not give up! She kept the letter, and told Pearl that I was to be placed in an orphanage. At this, my mother began watching for a chance to slip away again, but this time, it was not easy. Belle wrote letter after letter to the Reeds, and finally wrote that she would have me stolen and given to the gypsies. And this was the threat that won, and Aunt Mamie took me to an orphans' home. At that time, the gypsies were roving about, dirty and cruel in their appearance and a real menace.
     And, one day, Belle Starr called Pearl to her and said, "I want you to sign this paper. The baby is in a Home." My mother told me that she cried out, "You can't make me sign it. You have done everything else to me, but you can't make me sign that paper!" Then, she ran screaming from the room.
     When she returned, the paper was gone. And, not until I took the paper out to her in Arizona, thirty-five years later, did she know what Belle had written, or the location of the orphan's home in which I was placed.
     It was a cold, dreary winter. The paper was signed on Nov. 19, 1888. And, on Feb. 3, 1889, Belle Starr was killed by an assassin's hand. There were conjectures, in fact, neighbors still tell who did it, but, it was never proven. And, I have no desire to harm anyone else.
     Belle was buried where she requested to be laid -- in front of her cabin at the Bend, and through the years, her grave has stood almost alone -- but, as she wanted it. Recently, the cabins have been torn down and the place is almost deserted.

Tombstone on Belle Starr's grave


     The records in the children's home show that I was given to my adopted mother and father on Feb. 10, 1889, one week after Belle Starr was killed. My little girlhood was lived far away from the tragedy of Younger's Bend. My adopted mother let one of her nieces name me. This girl had been reading the Chautauqua books and loved the girl named Flossie, so she decided she would call me Flossie. Another niece, whose name was Pearl, was incensed that she'd had no hand in naming the baby! And so, mother, in her generous manner, said, "Let us call her Flossie Pearl." And so, unwittingly, I bore my real mother's name of Pearl.

Little Flossie -- the writer of this amazing story -- as a child.


     It was a marvelous environment for me, and a happy, happy childhood. My adopted mother was 48 years old, and father was 56, when they took me -- well past the age when most persons think of taking a baby to rear. I had suffered so many cold through the winter, that no one thought I would live. But, with a mother's care, I began to get well. There was so little in real money in that little home. Father had come to this country from Germany, as a boy. He hated the conscription army system of Germany and loved America, as he always referred to the United States. He had made a great deal of money in the shoe business, as that was the trade which he learned in Germany. And, with good investments, he had gotten together a small fortune. But, he lost it all when he undertook to run a stage coach line from St. Joseph, Mo., to some place in Iowa or Nebraska.
     At that period, I came into their lives. Father's spirit had been broken, and he was a discouraged old man. Mother was the life of everything. My childhood days were full of happiness -- little dolls dressed beautifully by mother's skillful fingers, little frosted cakes for many a tea party, big swings in a shady, old-fashioned yard, where I played day after day. I would swing by the hour -- perhaps, a whip in my hand, and pretend I was driving horses. They were always big black horses, and to this day, I love big black horses with necks arched gracefully and with pretty flanks. Sometimes, I pretended to be on a ship -- waves dashing "us" around, I would swing high in the air.
     I read incessantly. One of my chief delights was to read aloud to mother. By the time I was 11 years old, we were having a glorious time laughing our way through "Samantha at Saratoga," or weeping with Uncle Tom in "Uncle Tom's Cabin." The summer I was 13, I read almost all of E. P. Roe's books.
     And, always through my life was mother's smile. How priceless in a child's life is a smile! When I went to see my own mother, the thing that stood out clearest was her wonderful smile.

A Voice Out of the Past.
     A few years ago, when I was a woman grown, with my own little family, a letter came to me that was intended for my adopted mother. As she had passed away, it was given to me. It was from the orphan's home, stating that a woman by the name of Rosa Reed was inquiring about me. (Pearl, it will be recalled, was always called Rosie Lee, or Rosa, by the Reeds) Rosa Reed, the name that had been signed on the indenture that I had cherished for years!
     I wonder if I could ever picture to anyone who has not experienced it, what it meant to hear from my own mother. Longings surged over me, longings that I scarce knew were there. Longings to know who I was.
     And, when the first letter came from my mother, I could scarcely read it. She told me she had never signed the papers. She told me about my father. I had two half sisters. Oh! how much those pages held.
     In a few weeks, I went to visit her in Bisbee, Ariz. I saw a little woman just like myself. I had never looked into a face that resembled mine -- the first time I had ever seen my mother smile. I visited her twice before she died, and I never have gotten over the wonder of it. I, a little adopted girl, who had all the love and care a dear old couple could give a little girl -- I now had seen my own mother.
     My mother did not tell me that Belle Starr was my grandmother. I think she would have, had we had more time together before her death. She did tell me that her mother's maiden name was Myra Maebelle Shirley, who married James Reed, who was my grandfather. She told me, that after James Reed's death, my grandmother had married a man of Indian blood.
     I was reared, it will be recalled, north of the Mason-Dixon line.
     So, it chanced that I had never heard of Belle Starr, until one day after my mother's death, when I read a story by Frazier Hunt in the Cosmopolitan magazine on the early pioneer heroes, as he termed them, and found a description of my grandmother! I wrote to Frazier Hunt, who knew so more than what he told in the magazine, and had received his information from Pawnee Bill, Major Gordon Lillie, of Oklahoma. I wrote to Pawnee Bill, who knew no more than the accepted legend of Belle Starr. I wrote to my two half sisters, and before long, I had clinched the fact that Belle Starr was my own grandmother.
     I think I would not have been a true granddaughter of my grandmother if I had not then started on this strange quest, for I wanted to know all about her possible to know. In the last eight years, I have talked to dozens of persons about her, laid my hands on the daintily-quilted saddle, which she used, viewed that pretty little lamp which lit the table at Younger's Bend, heard from misinformed strangers that Pearl's baby was given to the gypsies. And, I made up my mind that I would go behind the scenes -- where others had made the statements concerning her career, I was determined to find out the reason for it.
     It has been a long and revealing search, revealing me to myself, and, I find, much as I revere my childhood friends of the North, that my sympathies and my interests are Southern. Like my grandmother, I find I have a Southern heart.

- May 7, 1933, The Dallas Morning News, Sec. IV,
Feature Sec., p. 1, col. 1-7; p. 2, col. 2-3.
- o o o -


1934
Schmid Denies Movie
Made During Ambush

     Sheriff Smoot Schmid, Friday, denied the report that his two deputies, Bob Alcorn and Ted Hinton, who figured in the Louisiana roadside slaughter of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, had moving picture cameras with them and made pictures of the killings.
     Alcorn and Hinton, likewise, denied the report. They said they saw scores of photographers at the scene of the killing, but positively denied that either of the six officers who figured in the slaying made any movie shots.
     The sheriff was also emphatic in his denial of a report that he had sent movie reel negatives of the killing to the Jamieson Film laboratories here to be developed.
     Another report, which the sheriff said he knew nothing about, was that relatives of the slain outlaw pair had taken steps to investigate reports that Clyde and Bonnie had buried a large sum of money on a farm near Arcadia.
     "All kinds of wild rumors are going the rounds," Sheriff Schmid said. "The one about me resigning as sheriff and going to Hollywood is also bosh. I intend to stay right on the job and ask the voters to elect me to another term."

- June 1, 1934, Dallas Daily Times Herald, Sec. II, p. 1, col. 2-3.
- o o o -


1941
Belle Starr's Hideout
Located Near Dallas

_____

Cave Used by Bandit Queen and Pals
and is Discovered 7 Miles East of City

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Ancient Spring Used by Gunwoman Is Found

The old Belle Starr Spring, long dry, was remembered by A. H. Downey, right, and his daughter, Mrs. Marie Hughes, from the time they lived on the farm occupied by Belle's parents, when first they came to Texas. Others inspecting the old spring outlet are John Smith and his father, Stanley W. Smith, who recently bought a tract, on which is located what remains of an old cave hide-out of Belle Starr and her bandit friends. - News Staff Photo


     The dim traces of a cave or large dugout, believed to have been used as a hide-out by Belle Starr, who reigned as the bandit queen of the Southwest, some seventy years ago, and her friends, has been located near the banks of Prairie Creek, seven miles east of Dallas on the Kaufman Highway.
     A. H. Downey, who formerly lived on the farm worked by Belle's parents, and his daughter, Mrs. Marie Hughes, found the site of the old cave without difficulty when taken to the place, Thursday, by Stanley W. Smith, owner of the tract on which it is located.
     "The cave had an entrance dug on the side of a hillock," said Downey, who recalled seeing Belle Starr when he was a small boy. "This entrance led to a chamber about 10x20 feet. The roof was logs, covered with dirt."

Kept Away From Cave.
     Mrs. Hughes said she used to play, when a little girl, in the vicinity of the cave, but never ventured too close to the entrance. She and her father also located an old spring, across the Texas & New Orleans Railroad tracks from the cave, where reputedly, Belle Starr and her bandit companions watered their horses.
     Only a brick curbing remains around the spring, which has filled with dirt and debris. It now flows feebly from the ground, several feet away from the original opening.
     When Smith bought the tract, part of a subdivision called California Ranches, being marketed by Frank Slay, he had no idea that he was acquiring a spot made notorious by the doings of Belle Starr. Old-timers in the neighborhood told him of stories they had heard and he located Downey, who now lives at 4627 Spring Garden Drive, near Second Avenue and Hatcher.
     Smith plans to do some brush-clearing and excavating in an effort to locate the old timbers of the cave and other evidence that may be left of the cave's existence.

Owned Dallas Stable.
     The place now called the Belle Starr farm, on which lived her parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Shirley, was occupied by Downey for nine years, he said. He moved twenty years ago. The old Shirley farmhouse burned a number of years ago, according to Downey. The Belle Starr hideout is about a quarter of [a] mile from the farmhouse site, on the other side of the Kaufman Road.
     Belle Starr's male friends were usually criminals, gamblers and bad men of her time. Her first husband, Jim Reed, a notorious horse thief and stage robber, was killed in 1874 while resisting arrest. She acquired the name of Belle Starr when she married a Cherokee named Sam Starr. When he was killed in a brawl at a country dance, Belle took another Indian mate. She was killed early in 1889, at the age of 41, while riding alone in a lane near her home in Arkansas. The identity of her assailant, who shot her in the back, still is unknown.
For a time, Belle operated a livery stable in East Dallas that served as a fence for horses stolen by her outlaw friends.
     Downey recalled that when he lived on the farm, that a pleasure resort called Prairie Creek Park was located farther up the creek. The T. & N. O. used to operate special trains to near the spot, for picnic crowds, Downey said.

- August 15, 1941, The Dallas Morning News,
Sec. II, p. 1, col. 6-7; cont. on Sec. II, p. 12, col. 2-4.
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1943

L. K. McKnight and Historic Pistol.
(News Staff Photo)
Dallas Man Has Six-Shooter
Belle Starr Sold for $10

     Wild and woolly tales from the old Indian Territory still filter out of the more peaceful land now known as Oklahoma, but L. K. McKnight, 4040 Prescott, has a vivid reminder of those days as a memento -- a pistol once carried by the notorious Belle Starr.
     McKnight believes the old .45 caliber six-shooter he has is the last one carried by the woman whose deeds have been inscribed deeply in the early history of Texas and the Southwest.
     He obtained it in an odd manner directly from the woman outlaw herself, so he knows it is genuine. But, Belle didn't take time to explain the thirty-two holes drilled neatly in the butt of the bone handle. Perhaps they represent brushes with the law or have more sinister meanings commonly associated with notches.
     "I was only 13 when I got the gun," McKnight recalled.
     "We were living in Paris, Lamar County, in 1888, and my brother, W. E. (Billy) McKnight, was one of the jailers.
     "In those days, Federal Court sessions, including cases from the Indian Territory, were held in Paris. One day, Belle Starr was brought in after her brother, Jim, had been killed by a United States marshal.
     "I was standing around the jail office visiting with my brother. She had the gun, and when I admired it, Belle said she wanted me to have it. Adding that she was broke and through with all her old ways of life, she offered to sell it to me for $10. My brother bought it and gave it to me."
     In latter years, McKnight became curious about the history of the gun and wrote the Colt Arms factory. They replied that records showed the gun shipped to a hardware store in the Indian Territory in 1870.
     He attempted to contact the store to see if they could shed any light on the purchaser, but by that time, it had gone out of business.
     The revolver is of the old type that does not "break," and a plunger must be used to eject the shells from the rigid position of the weapon. It is a .45-caliber on a .45-caliber frame, and it is of the single action type.
     The gun is the same as he received it from the outlaw through his brother, McKnight said, except that a figure of a woman's leg carved on the bone handle has been cut off.
     "My brother had a locksmith take the figure off the handle before he would give it to me."

- September 27, 1943, The Dallas Morning News, Sec. I, p. 5, col. 2-3.
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