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Friday 13 December 2019

Harmony Posters

    Belle Starr “Queen of the Oklahoma Outlaws” She was born Myra Maybelle Shirley on February 5th 1848 in Carthage, Missouri, she died on February 3rd 1889 at the age of 40 near King Creek, Oklahoma. The cause of death, she was shot!
    Belle associated with the James–Younger gang and other outlaws. She was convicted of horse theft in 1883. She was fatally shot in 1889 in a case that is still officially unsolved. Her story was popularized by Richard K. Fox the editor and publisher of the National Police Gazette, and she later became a popular character in television and movies.
    She knew the Youngers and the James boys because she had grown up with them in Missouri.
    Belle always harboured a strong sense of style, which fed into her later legend. A crack shot, she used to ride side-saddle while dressed in a black velvet riding habit and a plumed hat, carrying two pistols, with cartridge belts across her hips.
    It was alleged that Belle was briefly married for three weeks to Charles Younger, uncle of Cole Younger in 1878, but this is not substantiated by any evidence. In 1880, she married a Cherokee man named Sam Starr and settled with the Starr family in the Indian Territory. There, she learned ways of organizing, planning and fencing for the rustlers, horse thieves and bootleggers, as well as harbouring them from the law. Belle's illegal enterprises proved lucrative enough for her to employ bribery to free her cohorts from the law whenever they were caught.
    In 1883, Belle and Sam Starr were arrested by Bass Reeves, charged with horse theft and tried before “The Hanging Judge” Isaac Parker in Fort Smith, Arkansas; the prosecutor was United States Attorney W.H.H. Clayton. She was found guilty and served nine months at the Detroit House of Corrections, Detroit, Michigan. Belle proved to be a model prisoner, and during her time in jail, she won the respect of the prison matron. In 1886, she eluded conviction on another theft charge, but on December 17, Sam Starr was involved in a gunfight with Officer Frank West. Both men were killed, and Belle's life as an outlaw queen, and what had been the happiest relationship of her life, abruptly ended with her husband's death.
   For the last two-plus years of her life, gossips and scandal sheets linked her to a series of men with colourful names, including Jack Spaniard, Jim French and Blue Duck, after which, in order to keep her residence on Indian land, she eventually married Jim Starr a relative of Sam Starr.
    On February 3rd 1889, two days before her 41st birthday, she was killed. She was riding home from a neighbour’s house in Eufaula, Oklahoma when she was ambushed. After she fell off her horse, she was shot again to make sure she was dead. Her death resulted from shotgun wounds to the back and neck and in the shoulder and face. Legend says she was shot with her own double barrelled shotgun.
According to Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton, her death was due to different circumstances. She had been attending a dance. Frank Eaton had been the last person to dance with Belle Starr when Edgar Watson, clearly intoxicated, had asked to dance with her. When Belle Starr declined, he later followed her. When on the way home, she stopped to give her horse a drink at a creek, he shot and killed her. According to Frank Eaton, Watson was tried, convicted and executed by hanging for the murder. And yet another story says that there were no witnesses and that no one ever was convicted of the murder. Suspects with apparent motive included her new husband and both of her children as well as Edgar J. Watson, one of her sharecroppers because he was afraid she was going to turn him in to the authorities as an escaped murderer from Florida with a price on his head. Watson, who was killed in 1910, was tried for her murder, but was acquitted, and the ambush has entered Western lore as unsolved. One source suggests her son, whom she had allegedly beaten for mistreating her horse, may have been her killer.

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