Cherokee Connection Chapter 3 page 8
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Legends of Belle Starr

The Times item caught the eye of Richard K. Fox, editor-owner of New York's National Police Gazette and publisher of dime novels about imaginative and romantic stories of crime. He saw great possibilities in stories about Belle Starr a woman bandit.

Without investigating the facts, he wrote an imaginative story about her, "Belle Starr... The Bandit Queen, or the Female Jesse James", which sold for 25¢. Thousands of copies were sold. This started the legends that grew with each new writer. The notice of publication first appeared in the Police Gazette,August 10, 1889. It read in part, "Life and Adventures of Belle Starr. The Noted Queen of the West. A Story of Daring Exploits and Adventures. Handsomely Illustrated Mailed to any address on receipt of 45¢. Agents will find it to their advantage to canvass for this book. Richard K. Fox, Publisher, Franklin Square, New York.

It is interesting to note the timing of the novel. Annie Arnett still lived in the area. I wonder if Annie read the novel at that time and what she thought about it. Also what would she have said had we asked her about Belle Starr while Annie was still alive?

The legends so flourished in the two decades from her death in 1889 to 1910 that Frederick S. Barde, one of Oklahoma's ablest newspapermen went to Porum, OK. to investigate the facts. He sent a story to the St. Louis Republic Aug, 29, 1910, it is generally agreed that this story is most correct.

Barde wrote:

"The Ghost of Belle Starr still rides the Indian Territory.... remembrance of her among the people does not grow dim, and they talk of her now almost as frequently as they did when she was alive... Strangers that come here never fail to ask about her and inquire if this or that story is true..... Time has thrown about her life a tinge of romance, yet those who knew her well see no glamour in what she did. She was merely a dissolute woman, unfortunate in her early life, and in her later years merely a companion of thieves and outlaws. It is doubtful if she ever did more than steal horses. Much of her subsistence came from money and plunder given to her by the disreputable characters to whom she gave refuge.

With an education superior to her surroundings and with a natural sagacity that enabled her quickly to separate the spectacular from the commonplace and use it to her best advantage, Belle squired a reputation for daring outlawry that has survived the passing of many years, however threadbare and paltry the facts upon which this reputation was based. She had the love of admiration common to women, and her being a woman undoubtedly gave prestige to her career. A sentimentalism common in the South prior to the Civil War, joined to more than ordinary vanity, led Belle Starr to affect and imitate the ways of cheap melodrama. There is not proof that she ever helped rob a train or a traveler, ever fired a shot in a personal encounter-nor was she a good shot or even stained her hands with blood."


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