because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Belle Starr

May Shirley received a classical education at a girls' school, but it didn't keep her from becoming an outlaw. It could have been the fact that she grew up in Missouri with Jesse James and the Younger brothers who eventually became notorious as a gang of bandits riding roughshod over the West in the 1800's. It could have been because her first husband and the father of her two children was a criminal wanted for murder. Or it could have been the way she liked to get attention by riding sidesaddle in black velvet and a plumed hat with gun belts around her hips. But whatever it was, Shirley couldn't seem to help herself.

When her first husband was killed in 1874, he left his grieving widow free to marry a Cherokee cattle rustler named Sam Starr and move into Indian Territory. Quickly learning how to make herself useful to rustlers and horse thieves, Starr -- who now called herself Belle -- got so adept at planning and cleaning up after escapades that she even handled bribing lawmen and judges (one way or the other) whenever it was necessary.

Eventually, of course, Starr's second husband was also killed and a couple of years later, Starr herself was ambushed and blown out of the saddle by a shotgun. Nobody was ever found guilty of the crime, but one story has it that her son did the deed. In-your-face women are not always lovable lasses.

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