Cherokee Connection Chapter 3 page 5
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Belle Starr's early life

From the Foreman collection:

In his 1937 interview (now part of the Foreman collection,), William Freeman Keith said, his group of settlers moved into the John Kettle Settlement near Briartown about 1880. Based upon the story of Tom Starr and his family, some of the McClures must have settled in the area long before 1880. In fact, if the McClures are related to the Starrs as cousins or in laws, some of them may have been in the area before or shortly after the War between the States and the reason the new group settled there.

If it is true that Alma and Annie Arnett mother's name was Matt McClure, [as Alma said on her Indian Tribe application to be part of the Cherokee tribe.] the Arnetts could have been related to the other McClures which would be the reason the Arnetts came to the area also.

All of this indicates there could have been a close relationship between the McClures, Freeman Keith and the Starrs; and therefore Belle Starr, Cole Younger and etc. But it is also likely grandfather William Feeman's stories may have had some truth in them, but were told with some exaggeration, as the names and dates seem to be a mixed up. For example;

Myra Shirley at 18

Belle Starr was born Feb. 5, 1848, Myra Maybelle Shirley. Her father was, John Shirley, born in Virginia (West) 1794, Son of Samuel Shirley (native of Virginia) Mother, Eliza Hatfield Shirley related to the feuding Hatfields of West Virginia -Kentucky (She was teen-aged,10 years younger than John.) They moved to Iowa in 1826, then to the Missouri Ozarks in 1838.

In Texas on November 1, 1866, Myra Maybelle Shirley married the "dashing guerrilla" Jim Reed. Jim Reed also had been a member of the Quantrill guerrilla renegade gang. In September, 1868 she gave birth to Rosie Lee. She idolized her and called her Pearl. Jim Reed was killed near Paris, Texas on August 6, 1874.

Rumors keep persisting (which both Cole and Belle deny) that Pearl was the illegitimate child of Cole Younger.

Myra Maybelle (Shirley) Reed's second (or third) marriage was to a Cherokee Indian named Sam Starr, the son of Tom Starr. June 5, 1880, Belle married Samuel Starr in the Canadian District of the Cherokee Nation and thus became Belle Starr (An adopted White Indian). Note this is the same year that William Keith and his group of indians arrived from the East.

For a short time Sam and Bell Starr lived in a little box house a mile or two south of the present town of Porum. Then Sam took an allotment, on the North side of the Canadian River. A picturesque spot nestled between low lying in-accessible hills, sixteen miles below Eufaula, six miles west of Briartown, and about the same distance from Tom Starr's place on the same side of the river.

To the north rose HI-Early Mountain, where the James and Youngers rendezvoused during the war. Ten miles down stream and three miles south of Briartown across the river lay Whitefield.

Between Briartown and Whitefield and partly encircling the Starr lands runs the great elbow of the South Canadian River. Because Cole Younger spent so much time there, Tom named the land for Cole. "Its yellow waters implacable, withering among it's quick sands" It has retained the name Youngers' Bend to this day.


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