The history of the Indian Starr family is a good place to start the story of the Arnetts, Keiths, and McClure family in Indian Territory. It seems the McClures, the Wests and the Starrs were related some way by marriage. All the families including Tom Star settled in the Canadian River area of the Cherokee Nation during the 1830s or 1840s. Jessie James and Cole Younger did hang out and hide on Tom Starr's land and were good friends. Belle married Tom Starr's son Sam. While many of the stores told by William Freeman about Belle Starr and the James gang may be exaggerated, William did know Belle and many of her friends.
Our branch of the McClures stayed in North Carolina past the 1840s and moved to the western Nation in 1880. They probably had McClure relatives already in the western Cherokee Nation. Maybe they knew the Starrs or Wests back in Georgia or North Carolina. They may have come to the Cherokee Canadian area after the Civil War because their relatives were already living there. Regardless, Tom Starr's life makes an interesting story. and is very pertinent to my Cherokee family history.
The book,"Belle Starr and Her Times" by Glenn Shirley-Oklahoma Press 1982 is very interesting reading, particularly when related to stories told to Vernon Keith by our Grandfather, Ruben Freeman William Keith.
Glenn Shirley is an authority on the old west. He has written many books and hundreds of articles for anthologies, journals and magazines. He may be a distant relative of Myra Maybelle Shirley (Belle Starr).
He certainly spent much time researching Belle Starr for the book. In the bibliography of the book he listed as reference sources; Over 100 manuscripts and documents, 200 books and pamphlets, 70 articles, 20 newspapers and tabloids, 7 movies, 4 novels, 7 poems and 2 plays (one on Broadway) and CBS-TV Premier in 1980.
After going through his book, and comparing it to the things we know about William Freeman Keith from other sources, I found many references that tie William Freeman Keith to the Starr family.
William Freeman' Keith's stories about Belle Starr [may or may not be completely true, but there is no doubt that William Freeman Keith had opportunity to know Belle Starr. The fact that the Starr family was evidently related in some way to the McClures may have influenced some of Freeman Keith's beliefs and actions. For example, his loyal and sympathetic views toward some outlaws, kindness toward females, his macho feelings and strictness in raising in raising his own children. Also the stories may a key to finding more about and understanding the McClures, Keiths and Arnetts.
In 1937, the Oklahoma historical society interviewed many old timers throughout the state and placed the interviews in a bound book called the Foreman Collection, now located at the Historical Society building in Oklahoma City. William was interviewed at Porum, and told about life in the John Kettle settlement in 1880 (about two miles east of Briartown) William Freeman Keith listed the following people as living there about 1880.
|Tom Sunday||Henry McClure|
|Bill Phillips||Bob McClure|
|Ellis Brown||Bill McClure|
|John Wicket||Chas. McClure|
|Indian Catch a Coon||Tom Star|
|Buzzard Flopper||Frost Skimmer|