Family

Whether you consider Valentine’s Day to be a highly commercialized day, geared toward getting the consumer to spend a bunch of money on silliness, or you see it as a day set aside to celebrate love, everyone who has loved ones in their life, has to deal with it in some way. Perhaps deal with it is a poor choice of words, but there are those who feel like that is exactly what the day is all about…and they have loved ones too. Of course, those same people feel like Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and all the others are the same commercialized money trap. I don’t really get that. Why not have a day here and there to celebrate the people who have blessed your life? After all, where would your life be without those wonderful people in it. Sometimes, I think people take their family so much for granted, that they forget how blessed they truly are.

I get that we are all busy. In fact, that is one reason why we should embrace these days. They remind us to take a moment out of our busy, hectic lives and remember the people who are always there for us…through thick and thin, and I don’t mean just our spouse. Our parents have given up many things to make a better life for their kids; our siblings basically guarantee that we always have friends; our kids, in whose eyes, we can do no wrong…at least when they are little. We have all of these people, who show us so much love, and then we complain about having to buy them a little box of candy or flowers!! What does that say about us?

There are also marriages and families that are a little bit more unconventional, who do things like dinner, or handmade gifts, and in reality it is not the gift that counts, but the thought…the sentiment…the love. And most of all, it’s about showing how much they are loved, because after all, it’s the love that matters. And since it is the love that matters, why not show it.

Religious beliefs have caused a number of issues in governments over the centuries, sometimes pitting family members against family members. They were, in fact, the main reason that the United States was founded…to get away from religious persecution. Such was also the case in the coup that was called Britain’s Bloodless Glorious Revolution. At the time, King James II was the king in Britain, and he was a Catholic. At first that didn’t seem like a huge problem, but King James’s policies of religious tolerance after 1685 began to meet with increasing opposition from members of leading political circles, who were troubled by the King’s Catholicism and his close ties with France. The crisis facing the King came to a head in 1688, with the birth of his son, James Francis Edward Stuart, on June 10. This changed the existing line of succession by displacing the heir presumptive, his daughter Mary, a Protestant and the wife of William of Orange, with young James Francis Edward as heir apparent, because at that time it was the first born “son” who inherited the throne. The establishment of a Roman Catholic dynasty in the kingdoms now seemed likely, and the people weren’t happy about it.

Some Tory (conservative) members of parliament worked with members of the opposition Whigs in an attempt to resolve the crisis by secretly initiating dialogue with William of Orange to come to England…outside the jurisdiction of the English Parliament. Stadtholder William, the de facto head of state of the Dutch United Provinces, feared a Catholic Anglo–French alliance and had already been planning a military intervention in England, so he was very much open to the plan. After consolidating political and financial support, William crossed the North Sea and English Channel with a large invasion fleet in November 1688, landing at Torbay in Devonshire with an army of 15,000 men, William advanced to London, meeting no opposition from James’ army, which had deserted the king. After only two minor clashes between the two opposing armies in England, and anti-Catholic riots in several towns, King James’s regime collapsed, largely because of a lack of resolve shown by the king. Following Britain’s Bloodless Glorious Revolution, Mary, the daughter of the deposed king, and William of Orange, her husband, are proclaimed joint sovereigns of Great Britain under Britain’s new Bill of Rights. At first I thought that odd, because by rights she would have been in the royal line, but I suppose you would have to honor the warrior who made it all possible.

King James was allowed to escape to France, and in February 1689 Parliament offered the crown jointly to William and Mary, provided they accept the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights, which greatly limited royal power and broadened constitutional law, granted Parliament control of finances and the army and prescribed the future line of royal succession, declaring that no Roman Catholic would ever be sovereign of England. The document also stated that Englishmen possessed certain inviolable civil and political rights, a political concept that was a major influence in the composition of the United States Bill of Rights, composed almost exactly a century later. The Glorious Revolution, the ascension of William and Mary, and the acceptance of the Bill of Rights were decisive victories for Parliament in its long struggle against the crown.

In the years between 1791 and 1794, a man named Captain George Vancouver was exploring the Pacific Northwest area which would eventually become part of the United States of America. Captain Vancouver was the commander of the HMS Discovery and its accompanying ships sent to survey the northern Pacific Ocean. It was Vancouver and his crew who first recorded the sighting of Mount Saint Helens, and the first to explore Puget Sound. Following the coasts of Oregon and Washington and intending to explore every bay and outlet of the region, he sent men in smaller boats to explore the Columbia River and enter the strait of Juan de Fuca.

Vancouver commanded a variety of ships to complete his mission, so while the smaller vessels explored the many channels and rivers along the coast, the larger ships, including the Armed Tender of the HMS Discovery, called the Chatham, often anchored in safe harbors. On April 29, 1792, the ships entered the Straits of Juan de Fuca and anchored in the calm waters of Discovery Bay. Utilizing the bay as a base, Vancouver and his men explored the waters of Admiralty Inlet and Hood Canal.

Several weeks later, the Chetham began to sail north across the Straits of Juan de Fuca to explore the San Juan and Lopez Islands. After successfully doing so, the Chatham sailed southward in May to rejoin the HMS Discovery and continue their explorations south. The explorations continued as far as Commencement Bay in Tacoma, before turning around and returning north, where the waters were safer. Arriving at Puget Sound, they found a storm raging with severe currents and tides. Crossing an unknown channel, the Chatham was caught by a flood tide and swept helpless. To slow her progress, her stream anchor was dropped but the strain was too much and the cable snapped. However, the Chatham survived and after sweeping the waters unsuccessfully for the anchor, the ship rejoined the HMS Discovery.

Vancouver would write in his journal on June 9, 1792: “We found tides here extremely rapid, and on the 9th in endeavoring to get around a point to the Bellingham Bay we were swept leeward of it with great impetuosity. We let go the anchor in 20 fathoms but in bringing it up such was the force of the tide that we parted the cable. At slack water we swept for the anchor but could not get it. After several fruitless attempts, we were at last obliged to leave it.”

In 2008, an anchor was located off Whidbey Island’s northwestern shore. The anchor they found is believed to be the lost Chatham anchor, that was thought to be in Bellingham Bay. Anchor Ventures, LLC of Seattle salvaged the anchor, thought to be the one documented in mariners’ journals as breaking free from the Chatham in heavy currents on June 9, 1792. Previous searches for the anchor had been focused in Bellingham Channel, where the main ship Discovery had been with high seas reported. The Chatham, a brig that was eventually captained by Peter Puget, was apparently not with the Discovery during the storm, the salvage team believes. The anchor was placed temporarily at the Northwest Maritime Center in downtown Port Townsend before being moved to Texas, where is was restored and is on display today.

Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess were senior officials in the British Foreign Office and in 1951. They were trusted diplomats, but they had a dark side. They were well known to have left-leaning ideas, and eventually their ideas moved them so far out of line with the jobs they had that it was suspected, if not known that they had become spies for the Soviet Union. Maclean and Burgess were two of the original members of the notorious Cambridge Spy Ring, which was a ring of spies in the United Kingdom, who passed information to the Soviet Union during World War II. They were active at least into the early 1950s. Four members of the ring were originally identified: Kim Philby (cryptonym: Stanley), Donald Duart Maclean (cryptonym: Homer), Guy Burgess (cryptonym: Hicks) and Anthony Blunt (cryptonyms: Tony, Johnson). Once jointly known as the Cambridge Four and later as the Cambridge Five, the number increased as more evidence came to light.

The group was recruited during their education at the University of Cambridge in the 1930s…hence the term Cambridge. There is much debate as to the exact timing of their recruitment by Soviet intelligence. Anthony Blunt claimed that they were not recruited as agents until they had graduated. Blunt, an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College, was several years older than Burgess, Maclean, and Philby; he acted as a talent-spotter and recruiter for most of the group save Burgess. Several people have been suspected of being additional members of the group; John Cairncross (cryptonym: Liszt) was identified as such by Oleg Gordievsky, although many others have also been accused of membership in the Cambridge ring. Both Blunt and Burgess were members of the Cambridge Apostles, an exclusive and prestigious society based at Trinity and King’s Colleges. Cairncross was also an Apostle. Other Apostles accused of having spied for the Soviets include Michael Whitney Straight and Guy Liddell.

The group was radical in their dealings, so I’m not sure that anyone was overly surprised when both Maclean and Burgess disappeared from England in 1951, although they may have assumed that they were assassinated. For years there was no trace of them, and I suppose people began to forget all about them. Nevertheless, there were rumors that they had been spies for the Soviet Union and had left England to avoid prosecution. For five years, nothing was heard of the pair. British intelligence suspected that they were in the Soviet Union, but Russian officials consistently denied any knowledge of their whereabouts.

Then, on February 11, 1956, the pair resurfaced and invited a group of journalists to a hotel room in Moscow. Burgess and Maclean were there to greet them, give a brief interview, and hand out a typed joint statement. In the statement, both men denied having served as Soviet spies. However, they very strongly declared their sympathy with the Soviet Union and stated that they had both been “increasingly alarmed by the post-war character of Anglo-American policy.” They claimed that the decision to leave England and live in Russia was due to their belief that only in Russia would there be “some chance of putting into practice in some form the convictions they had always had.” They were convinced that the Soviet Union desired a policy of “mutual understanding” with the West, but many officials in the United States and Great Britain were adamant in their opposition to any working relationship with the Russians. They concluded by stating, “Our life in the Soviet Union convinced us we took at the time the correct decision.”

While the surprise news conference solved the mystery of where Burgess and Maclean had been for the past five years, it did little to settle the question of why they had gone to the Soviet Union in the first place. Their statement also did not clear up the issue of whether or not they had spied for the Soviet Union. Evidence from both British and American intelligence agencies strongly suggested that the two, together with fellow Foreign Office workers Kim Philby and Sir Anthony Blunt, had engaged in espionage for the Russians. Both men spent the rest of their lives in the Soviet Union. Burgess died in 1963 and Maclean passed away in 1983. I don’t suppose we will ever know all of the British and possibly American secrets they shared with the Russians during those years, only that they were treasonous traitors.

My youngest sister, Allyn Hadlock is in beautiful Puerto Vallarta, Mexico this weekend having a special birthday/Valentine’s Day holiday trip, lounging on the beach. It was a special gift from her husband, Chris. They have been married for 35 years, and Chris wanted to give his wife and valentine a special trip to celebrate. So this year they are sitting in 80° weather, while the rest of us are trying to keep warm in 23° weather. I would really be mad at her, if it weren’t for the fact that I think the trip was an awesome idea, and I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more. The trip is an all inclusive weekend, and so they are feasting on all the wonderful foods there are, and lounging on the beach and the pool, of course. What a wonderful way to relax.

Allyn has worked in the billing department in a medical office in Casper, Wyoming for some time now, and a while back when they reorganized, she was made a supervisor. She works very hard at her job, and this vacation was a welcome break. In her personal life, she is known as “Grandma” these days…a job she doesn’t take lightly. Her grandchildren love gong to see her, and the oldest two, Ethan and Aurora Hadlock often spend Sunday afternoons with Grandma and Grandpa. It’s a great time for everyone, and they never get tired of it. They also have Adelaide Sawdon, and Mackenzie Moore to round of the crew. Adelaide lives here and they get to see her quite often too, but Mackenzie lives in North Carolina, so seeing her takes a bit of planning. Still, those trips are precious, and they all enjoy them, and when it comes to seeing those babies, try keeping the grandparents away for long. For them, family is, after all, the most important thing in their world.

Nevertheless, being a grandma isn’t the only part of being a couple that is important. This weekend is a rest and reconnect weekend. Since the resort is all inclusive and the only place they have to be is the places they want to be. There is nothing to do but relax and enjoy themselves, and I’m really happy that they get to do this, especially when it comes to getting away from the cold Wyoming Winter that is still rearing its ugly head around here right now. I think that for Allyn and Chris the sun, sand, surf, and palm trees is just what the doctor ordered…a weekend in Paradise. Today is Allyn’s birthday. Happy birthday Allyn!! Have a great time on your weekend in Paradise!! We love you!!

My grand nephew, Jake Harman is a man who has made such a turn around in his life in the past few years. It’s not that he was a bad guy before, but rather that marriage and fatherhood so agree with him, that it’s almost like he is a completely new person. Jake has always had a great sense of humor, and is really quite the comedian. Both of those traits come in very handy for a dad. Happy kids make for happy parents, and when Dad is making the kids laugh, they are happy. Jake reminds me of my own dad in that way. Not unusual, because my dad is his great grandpa, Allen Spencer. Dad, like Jake loved making all the kids laugh. He found all kinds of ways to get the giggling going, often to the point where my mom, Collene Spencer, was about ready to go for a drive to get away from all the noise. Nevertheless, she loved having happy kids, just like Jake’s wife, Melanie does. And as the kids learn they start making their own kind of entertainment and then their laughter is entertaining to the parents. Jakes girls, Alice and Izabella are already pretty entertaining, and I’m sure his son Jaxx will be getting in on that just as soon as he is big enough to get around.

Jake works for Fed-ex Ground here in Casper, and has been there for a long time now. He likes his job, but lets face it, we go to work to build a better life for our families, and Jake is no exception to that rule. He like his job, and he is good at it, but there is simply nothing like quitting time, and heading home to the family. Jake and Melanie are such good friends, and their personalities compliment each other so well. When one is upset, the other is calming, and vise versa. That is what you need in a marriage…balance.

For Jake, life is full of wonderful things. He has come full circle from being by himself to having a houseful of joy, laughter, and love, and it just doesn’t get any better than that. Jake has always been a friendly guy, and that has always made him likeable. I suppose that is part of the charm that won Melanie over to him. Now the two of them seem like they have always been together. I can’t imagine either of them with anyone else. Their little family is just perfect. Today is Jake’s birthday. Happy birthday Jake!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

The move west to settle America was seldom a peaceful move. These days we think of loading up our car, and moving to a new city…done and easy, but it wasn’t so back then. There were outlaws, Indians, and unknown perils that could end a trip west, almost before it got started. There were a number of trails commonly used to get to the gold fields in the west, but the Bozeman Trail was one of the most violent, quarrelsome, and ultimately failed experiments in American frontier history. The trail was named for John Bozeman, an emigrant from Georgia, who was said to have blazed the route, but in actuality, the Indians had been using the route as a travel corridor for centuries. Nevertheless, John Bozeman did play a part in the trail. In 1863, Bozeman and partner, John Jacobs widened this corridor for use as a wagon road. They were following in much the same footsteps as Captain William Raynolds had four years earlier in a mapping and exploration expedition for the Army Corps of Topographic Engineers. The plan was to make the trail a shortcut to the goldfields in and around Virginia City, Montana territory. The Bozeman route split off of the Oregon Trail in central Wyoming. Then it skirted the Bighorn Mountains, crossed several rivers including the Bighorn, then traversed mountainous terrain into western Montana. The trail follows a very similar route to the current roads that meander through Wyoming today. The Bozeman trail had several advantages, including an abundant supply of water along with the most direct route to the goldfields, making it the go to trail of that era.

Still, the trail had one major drawback. It cut through the heart of territory that had been promised to several Indian tribes by the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1848, making the people traveling the trail…the outlaws. The area included the rich hunting grounds of the Powder River Country, claimed by the Sioux and other tribes. They were not feeling very hospitable about these “white men” traipsing through their hunting grounds, killing their animals, and running off many in the herds. Nevertheless, the first emigrant trains began traveling up the trail not long after Bozeman and Jacobs had finished marking the route. In 1864, a large train of 2,000 settlers successfully made the trek. This was the high point of travel along the corridor. Though some wagon trains were successful after that, there were constant threats of attack. Over the next two years travel along the corridor came to a complete halt because of numerous raids by a coalition of tribes.

Then the people started to put pressure on the United States government to protect the travelers. In 1866, United States Army troops were dispatched to construct three forts along the trail, which would supposedly offer protection to wagon trains. These posts, running from south to north, were Forts Reno, Phil Kearny and C.F. Smith. Ominously, each of these forts was named after a general that had died during the just completed Civil War. Somehow that doesn’t seem to instill a lot of hope…at least to me. With the installation of the forts, the trail had, in effect become a military road. The protection afforded by the United States Army presence enraged the tribes. With that intervention came a two year conflict, known as Red Cloud’s War. Under the leadership of Oglala Lakota chief Red Cloud, raids and ambushes were carried out against soldiers, civilians, supply trains and anyone else who dared to attempt the trail.

Three famous skirmishes were The Fetterman Massacre, in December, 1866, in which an army detachment of 79 soldiers and 2 civilians led by Captain William Fetterman were lured from Fort Phil Kearney and ambushed within a few miles of the fort. On August 1, 1867, the Hayfield Fight, where 19 soldiers and 6 civilians detailed for guard and hay cutting duty were attacked. The Indians held them under siege for over 8 hours, but they managed to hold off 500 hundred warriors until help arrived. And finally, The Wagon Box Fight, where a detachment of 31 soldiers sent out to guard a team of wood cutters, was encircled. They fought off numerous attacks over a five hour period from hundreds of warriors. These continued raids and skirmishes were the rule that proved that peace was not going to be the reality they had hoped. Life guarding the trail was a combination of tension, monotony, and loneliness. Soldiers on the verge of mutiny and even cases of insanity, deserted their posts. With few, if any, emigrants using the trail, because they were too afraid, the army sequestered behind fortress walls and tribes showing few signs of easing up on attacks. Finally, the United States government decided to pursue a peace policy. The second (1868) Fort Laramie Treaty recognized the Powder River Country once again as the hunting territory of the Lakota and their allies. A presidential proclamation was issued to abandon the forts. The Bozeman Trail was history, and for the first time, the United States government had lost a war. What a shock that must have been for our nation.

These days, lots of people have used hang-gliders, or squirrel suits, or parachutes to be able to “fly” without the use of an airplane, and lots of people absolutely love the rush they get from it. I suppose it would be very cool, but the clear fact is that, in reality, you are performing a fall of sorts, with a landing definitely in the future. There is no ability to go back up with the equipment you have.

I guess that makes the flight that Captain Bruce McCandless II took on February 7, 1984 very unique. McCandless was a NASA astronaut aboard the space shuttle Challenger, as a mission specialist on STS-41B (February 3-11, 1984), when he became the first human to fly in space…untethered. This is not a falling situation. In fact, had he not initiated the jet packs power to maneuver his way back to the shuttle, he could have floated around in space forever. Of course, he did not choose to do that, and so after 5 hours and 55 minutes, McCandless maneuvered the bulky white rocket pack, of his own design, back to the space shuttle. I think that deep down inside him, he must have thought, “No!!! I don’t want it to be over yet!!” The feeling of exhilaration over what he had accomplished, must have give him the ultimate adrenalin rush!! A rush like no one else had ever felt before. McCandless orbited the Earth in tangent with the shuttle at speeds greater than 17,500 miles per hour and flew up to 320 feet away from the Challenger. Then, after an hour and a half testing and flying the jet-powered backpack and admiring Earth, McCandless safely reentered the shuttle.

Later that day, Army Lieutenant Colonel Robert Stewart tried out the rocket pack, which was a device regarded as an important step toward future operations to repair and service orbiting satellites and to assemble and maintain large space stations. It was the fourth orbital mission of the space shuttle Challenger. His untethered space walk lasted 6 hours and 17 minutes. The rocket pack worked beautifully. It was a great advancement, but my mind goes back to the man. How did he feel when he took that first step out into space, knowing that if this didn’t go as planned, he could be lost in space forever? Then, he took a leap of faith, and stepped out. It must have been exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. Then when he realized that he could make the rocket pack do what he wanted it to, he must have been elated. What a rush that must have been, and for just a little while, he was alone…not only in space, but in that fact that he was the only one who had been there without being tied to a shuttle for safety. How amazing that must have been.

My niece, Jenny Spethman is a sweet lady with a heart of gold. She is always kind to others and always wears a smile. This mom of four (plus one baby in Heaven) just never loses her hopeful joyous attitude. She greets each day…very early, often before the sunrise, so she can commune with God before the rush of activity that goes along with four active children and a busy husband. She relishes the beauty that God has created for those whose will rise up early. She looks for the beautiful things in God’s nature, in her family, and in her own heart, and she always finds them.

Jenny has such a flair for style, and she can see an outfit where the rest of us see a dud. She mixes a little of this style with a little of that style, and it comes out stunning…always stunning. Maybe it’s the girl wearing the outfit that makes the outfit, in fact, I believe that is the true fact of the matter. I wish I had her flair for putting things together, because no one ever has the same outfit as Jenny does, and yet she is always in style. Her little girl, Aleesia has also benefitted from her mom’s great style, because she always looks so cute in her outfits, and she is always in style too.

Jenny is a true blue friend. No matter what her friends might need, they can count on Jenny to be there…through the good, bad, and the ugly. And because she is a true friend, Jenny has ben blessed with some really good friends too. Jenny’s personality draws people to her and everyone wants to be Jenny’s friend. That is a gift. I think people can see kindness in a person, and that makes that person someone they want to be around. I think that is really what drew her husband, Steve Spethman to her in the first place. They were friends before anything else, and they remain best friends to this day. Of course, for anyone who has been married a long time, you know that friendship is the cornerstone of a good marriage…and without it, the marriage is already on shaky ground.

Jenny has been so blessed with three wonderful sons, who are growing up to be good young men. She was also blessed with two daughters, one of which is in Heaven waiting for the day she can see her mom and dad again, and the other is a source of laughter and joy to them every day on this Earth. For Jenny, everyday is another day in a wonderful life. Today is Jenny’s birthday. Happy birthday Jenny!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Myra Belle Shirley was born in a log cabin near Carthage, Missouri on February 5, 1848 to “Judge” John Shirley, and his third wife, Elizabeth “Eliza” Pennington. John Shirley was the black sheep of a well-to-do Virginia family who had moved west to Indiana, where he married and divorced twice. His third wife, Eliza, was on the Hatfield side of the feuding Hatfield and McCoy families, which ranks up there with people I wouldn’t want for parents. The Hatfield and McCoy feuds, while not starting until about 1865, went on for decades, and they were messy and confusing over those years. You might no know who Myra Belle Shirley was, or you might know her best at Belle Starr.

Myra grew up in a well to do family, after her father John Shirley made good in 1856 when he and his wife sold their financially successful farming venture raising wheat, corn, hogs, and horses in Jasper County, Missouri. When John sold the land, they opened an inn, a tavern, livery stable and blacksmith shop. Their businesses took up almost an entire city block. John Shirley had become a respected member of the burgeoning county seat of Carthage, and his daughter Myra Belle lived the life of a spoiled, rich girl, attending the Carthage Female Academy, where in addition to the basics, she was taught music and classical languages. She was a bright student, with polite manners, and a talent for playing the piano. However, she also liked to flaunt her status a “rich girl” and liked having an audience. She also loved the outdoors, where she spent many a day roaming the countryside with her older brother Bud, who taught her how to ride a horse and handle a gun…a little out of the ordinary, but still within the confines of a proper upbringing, but dramatic changes were coming for Myra.

When the Kansas-Missouri Border War broke out. Jasper County watched both armies pass through time and again, forcing residents to take sides, and making neighbors into bitter enemies. Irregular bands of “Jayhawkers” and “Red Legs” laid waste to Missouri communities in support of the Union. When son Bud joined Quantrill’s Raiders, John Shirley was a proud father. Bud, who knew the area and the people well, served admirably as a scout, quickly attaining a captain’s rank. But in June 1864 Bud was killed in Sarcoxie, Missouri. The raids had taken their toll on Shirley’s businesses and after Bud’s death, the “Judge” gave up, sold his Missouri property and moved his family to a farm near Scyene, Texas, a small settlement southeast of Dallas.

In 1866 the James-Younger Gang robbed their first bank in Liberty, Missouri, and fled with $6,000 in cash and bonds. Splitting up, Jesse and Frank James, along with the Youngers, fled to Texas, where they met up with Myra Shirley. Soon, Myra became smitten by Cole, quickly becoming a member of their “gang.” One of these outlaw bands, seeking refuge, stayed at the Shirley house one night. Belle later stated that it was there that she became reacquainted with the first man she ever loved. His name was Jim Reed, and she had first met him back in Missouri, where the Reed and Shirley families had been friends. The romance blossomed in Texas, and Belle and Jim married on November 1, 1866. The Shirleys had no objection to the marriage, as Jim Reed was not yet a wanted man. Jim moved into the Shirley household near Scyene and shared the farm chores. Later, he became a salesman for a Dallas saddle and bridle maker. By late 1867, though, he and Belle were living on the Reed homestead in Missouri. Early in September 1868, Belle gave birth to her first child, Rosie Lee. Belle adored the baby and referred to her as her “Pearl.” The nickname stuck. When Jim and Belle moved to Missouri, Reed was a wanted man, allegedly for murdering a man named Shannon. The two fled to California with their young daughter Pearl and before long a second child came along who they named Edward.

In 1869 Belle, Reed and two other outlaws rode to the North Canadian river country, where they tortured an old Creek Indian until he told them where he had hidden $30,000 in gold. With their share of the loot, Jim and Belle returned to Texas, where she played the role of “Bandit Queen” to the hilt. But, it wasn’t long before the outlaw life caught up with Reed and on August 1874, Reed was killed in a gunfight by a member of his own gang. Belle left her children with her mother while she rode the outlaw trail. In Indian Territory (what is now Oklahoma,) Starr got involved with a flat-faced Indian outlaw who went by the name of “Blue Duck.” Of her life, Belle Starr stated to The Fort Smith Elevator about one year prior to her death, “I regard myself as a woman who has seen much of life.” On February 3, 1889, two days before her 41st birthday, she was killed. She was riding home from a neighbor’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 barrel 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.

Belle’s children didn’t do much better, and turned out as one would expect, with the influence their mother had on them. Belle’s son, Eddie Reed, was convicted of horse theft and receiving stolen property in July 1889. Judge Parker sent him to prison in Columbus, Ohio. Belle’s daughter, Rosie Reed, also known as Pearl Starr, became a prostitute to raise funds for Eddie’s release. She did eventually obtain a presidential pardon in 1893. Ironically, Eddie became a deputy in Fort Smith and killed two outlaw brothers named Crittenden in 1895, and was himself killed in a saloon in Claremore, Oklahoma on December 14, 1896. Pearl operated several brothels in Van Buren and Fort Smith, Arkansas, from the 1890s to World War I.