Today in Texas History – June 5

From the Annals of Banditry –   In 1880, Myra Maybelle “Belle” Shirley Reed, married her third (or possibly only second) husband, Sam Starr.  Belle, known as the “Bandit Queen” married Starr in the Cherokee Nation.  Reed’s family (the Shirleys) were from Missouri and had supported Confederate marauders including Quantrill. By the end of the Civil War, the Shirleys had been forced to relocate to Scyene near Dallas.  In July 1866 Cole, Jim, Bob, and John Younger and Jesse James, outlaws who had ridden with Quantrill, used the Shirley home as a hideout. Belle’s first husband, Jim Reed rode with the Younger, James, and Starr gangs.  Despite later popularization, they were vicious and remorseless criminals who killed, looted and pillaged in Texas, Arkansas, and the Indian Territory. Jim Reed was killed by a deputy sheriff in 1874 in Paris.  Belle may have married Bruce Younger.  Even so, Belle and Sam Starr were married and engaged in their own criminal exploits.  They  were charged with horse stealing, and  Belle received two six-month prison terms.  Starr was later killed in a shootout with an Indian policeman.   Belle allegedly continued her amorous ways.  Her loves included Jim July (or Jim Starr), Blue Duck, Jack Spaniard, and Jim French. In 1889, while she was living in the Choctaw Nation, an unknown assassin ambushed and killed her.

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