Western Heroine: Belle Starr Part 2

About the western heroine Belle Starr suspected robber and friend of outlaws, a real cowgirl, her biography and place in United States history.

BELLE STARR (1848-1889).

Legendary western heroine.

In the 1870s, as local authorities began to lose patience with Myra Belle and her various enterprises, she found it advisable to relocate in a remote section of Oklahoma along the Canadian River. For nostalgic reasons, Myra Belle named this place "Younger's Bend," in honor of her 1st great passion. After entertaining a series of outlaw lovers including Jack Spaniard, Jim July, Jim French, and John Middleton, she began to develop an interest in native Americans. She lived several years with a handsome brave named Blue Duck and then finally married a Cherokee named Sam S. Starr. Though this union was predictably short-lived, Myra Belle permanently adopted the name "Belle Starr," the name under which she has come down through history.

In 1881, Jesse James himself turned to Belle Starr for help, and she was delighted to provide a hideout for the leader of her old associates. Poor Jesse should have remained with Belle, because shortly after he returned to Missouri he was shot in the back by "that dirty little coward" Robert Ford.

A few years later, Belle Starr was to meet a similar fate--she was shot in the back and killed near Eufaula, Okla., on February 3, 1889, at the age of 41. A neighbor, Edgar Watson, was accused of the murder, but charges against him were eventually dropped. It was generally believed that Belle Starr was slain by her own son, 18-year-old Ed Reed, with whom she had been having incestuous relations. He was angry with his mother, according to the story, because she had whipped him after he rode her favorite horse without her permission.

Whatever the actual circumstances of her death, her friends and children provided Belle Starr with a touching tombstone. Underneath a primitive carving of her horse, a bell, and a star, they placed the following lines--

Shed not for her the bitter tear

Nor give the heart to vain regret

"Tis but the casket that lies here

The gem that filled it sparkles yet.

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