Glore Psychiatric Museum / A Fascinating Trip Stop

The award-winning Glore Psychiatric Museum chronicles the 130-year history of the state hospital and centuries of mental health treatment.The museum is located on the adjoining grounds of the original state hospital in St. Joseph, Missouri. The Glore Psychiatric Museum certainly offers a unique trip back into history and is recognized as one of the 50 most unusual museums in the U.S. The museum’s address is 3406 Frederick Avenue, Saint Joseph, MO.

glore psychiatric museum

Glore Psychiatric Museum, St. Joseph Missouri

Establishing the Glore Psychiatric Museum

The Glore Psychiatric Museum was started in 1968 in an abandoned ward of the St. Joseph State Hospital by George Glore. Glore had been collecting historical psychiatric treatment devices as well as interesting items made by the actual patients of the hospital for over four decades.

o hallorans swing

O’Halloran’s Swing

The current collection includes interactive and audio-visual displays. Also, department store mannequins strapped into various psychiatric devices of the era. If this isn’t enough, there is an artistic display of 1,466 inedible items — safety pins, screws, nails, buttons bottle caps that were removed from the digestive tract of a former St. Joseph State Hospital patient.

There’s also the story about a patient who swallowed a Timex clock and when the item was passed it was still ticking. Permanent displays at the museum cover about 400 years of psychiatric history.

The hospital asylum had a working farm and farming equipment used in that period is on display. A work program was in place as a key therapy for patients. In addition to the working farm, a sewing room was in place, a car restoration project was begun, a rug weaving program produced rugs used throughout the hospital and several others programs were established.

Also you’ll view original hospital furnishings and various surgical equipment. Some of the permanent displays also include  the Bath of Surprise; O’Halloran’s Swing; the Tranquilizer Chair; and the Hollow Wheel. It’s been said that patients could spend up to six months in the tranquilizer chair.

tranquilizer chair

Tranquilizer Chair

George Glore

The museum is named for its founder George Glore, who spent most of his 41-year career with the Missouri Department of Mental Health. His work with mental health patients sparked his interest in the history and treatment of mental illness. His collection of  museum artifacts is one of the largest exhibitions devoted to the evolution of mental health care in the United States. The museum fills four floors.

The original Glore collection featured full size replica exhibits of 16th, 17th and 18th centurytreatmentdevices that very much resemble the torture devices used during the same period. George Glore created these exhibits for a mental health awareness week celebration. The exhibits were received well by the general public and Glore was urged by his superiors to expand the exhibit. After additional mental illness treatment items were added the museum came into being.

In 1997 the museum was relocated from the original Lunatic Asylum No.2 to it’s current location when the asylum campus was converted to a correctional facility. The museum is outside the prison fence in a group of brick buildings.

George Glore passed away in 2010. The museum is no longer affiliated with the State of Missouri but is part of the St. Joseph Museum. As of this writing the museum hours are M-Sat 10A-5P, Sun. 1-5P. The Glore Psychiatric Museum phone number is 816-364-1209.

See the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

Historic Missouri Travel Sites

The Quacks

M-Sa 10 am – 5 pm, Su 1-5 pm.
The museum sits right outside the prison fence, in a complex of brick buildings. – See more at: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2142#sthash.PMZTvz4h.dpuf

The Original State Lunatic Asylum No. 2

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The Bath of Surprise

Is the museum worth a visit? We certainly think so.The Glore Psychiatric Museum highlights the ways patients were treated in the old days and presents a glimpse of psychiatric history.

This is in many ways similar to the story of turn of the century medical devices that claimed to heal a variety of illnesses and aches and pains. Many of these were electrical in nature. The harnessing of electricity in the late 1800’s opened the door for quacks to make what seems today outrageous claims for healing.

The original ‘State Lunatic Asylum No. 2, by approval of the Missouri State assembly, opened in November of 1874 with 25 patients on land located east of the City of St. Joseph. At first there was added 120 beds which eventually grew to 350. As mentioned above, the asylum eventually became a prison and the present day museum was relocated adjacent to it.

The name of the asylum was changed in 1903 to the State Hospital No. 2. In 1952 it was renamed the St. Joseph State Hospital.

Visiting the Glore Psychiatric Museum

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the Glore Psychiatric Museum is a very unique venue. There’s four floors of exhibits that give the visitor a real good feel for the progression of psychiatric treatment prior to the introduction of the powerful medicines of today.

If your travels take you to St. Joseph Missouri, you may want to take the time to visit what is one of the most unique museums found anywhere in the country. St. Joseph is located about 57 miles north of Kansas City Missouri and about 135 miles southeast of Omaha Nebraska.

(Article copyright 2014 Trips Into History. Photos and images in the public domain)

 

Historic Missouri / Great Trip Stops

The Rich History of Missouri

The rich history of old Missouri includes the era that covered wagons headed west to Oregon and California, the extremely violent years of the Civil War and the lawlessness of the post Civil War years attributed largely to the bank and train robberies by the James-Younger gang.

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A young Jesse and Frank James

There are many unique and interesting historic sites in Missouri that you may want to add to your vacation planner. We’ve highlighted a few of these below.

Independence Missouri

If you’re looking for a town that was at the center of early westward expansion, Independence Missouri is one of those. Independence was by all means the gateway to the western frontier. Founded in 1827, Independence is located on the south bank of the Missouri River at the furthest point west where steamboats could then still navigate.

This point made Independence a jumping off point to the west and where much of it’s history resides. Some of the history is 19th century and some 20th century. During the mid 19th century, if you were to try to identify a focal point for America’s march westward, it would have to be Independence Missouri. While there are hundreds, even thousands of stories throughout the old west, many of them have some distant connection to Independence.

The town served as a key stepping off point to those traversing the western frontier. Take a look at a map of the Oregon Trail and you’ll see Independence Missouri as it’s eastern terminus.

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Map of the Oregon Trail with the eastern terminus of Independence, MO

The Start of the Oregon Trail

Among the fun and historic things to do in Independence is ride in a covered wagon. Rides are available at Independence Square. You can actually retrace some of the paths of the original settlers through wagon swales carved by the 1800’s pioneers. This covered wagon tour takes you 1800’s style through Independence’s famous historic district. The Independence Square is really filled with many historic sites since this was the location where the wagon train assembled before beginning the 2,000 mile journey westward over the Oregon Trail route. Among Oregon Trail facts is that the journey to Oregon could take six months or more to complete. A walking trip through the square itself is a walk back into history. Independence makes a fun and educational trip stop for the entire family.

cole younger photo

A young Cole Younger

The Jesse James Home Museum

During the 1800’s Missouri had it’s share of lawlessness and much of it was attributed to the James-Younger gang.

Much of the mayhem generated by the earlier James gang was attributed by many journalists to their staunch anti-Union sentiment and little by little this too was fading away.  The James gang was no longer relevant to the civil progress being made in Kansas and Missouri after the Civil War ended.

After the Civil War the James-Younger gang became outlaws as opposed to Confederate Civil War guerrillas. The gang cheated death for decades. One site that remains quite popular to tourists and tourist/historians is the house where Jesse James was assassinated by his former gang partner Robert Ford.

There have been several Jesse James movies produced.  If you saw the recent movie “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” you saw much of the story of Jesse James death and final days. If you haven’t seen the movie I highly recommend that you do. The Jesse James Home Museum is located in St. Joseph Missouri. It was moved a few blocks from it’s original location and is now at 12th and Mitchell, St. Joseph.

See the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

Branson Missouri / Fun Attractions and Great Scenery

See the Great Western Trail

Searching for Old Pioneer Wagon Ruts

Travel the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Highway

patee house missouri

Patee House National Historic Landmark

The Patee House

Another interesting venue in St. Joseph Missouri is the Patee House located at 1202 Penn, St. Joseph’s only National Historic Landmark. The Patee House was first built in 1858 as a luxury hotel. It’s current museum is filled with artifacts from the frontier era of Missouri as well as items about Jesse James. The hotel was the site of the formal investigation undertaken after James assassination by Robert Ford. It was also the headquarters for the Pony Express in 1861. Quite a lot of history in this building and well worth the time to visit.

The Clay County Bank Robbery

The Clay County Savings Association in Liberty Missouri has a bit of history with it. It is considered the site of the first daylight bank  robbery in U.S. history. While it was attributed to the actions of Jesse James there is some doubt whether he was involved. By the same token the James-Younger gang had the reputation for overt daylight bank robberies such as their ill fated attempt in Northfield Minnesota.

The Clay County Bank was robbed by around a dozen gunmen on February 13,1866. It was said that the robbers escaped with about $60,000. A bystander was killed outside the bank. It was also said that some bystanders may have recognized some of the gang members but withheld information from the authorities because of fear.

clay county missouri bank robbery

Clay County Savings Assoc. Building.

Today, the Clay County Savings Association Building still stands and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The building is located at 104 East Franklin Street, Liberty Missouri. Visitors today will see the bank as it looked at the time of the robbery. You’ll see period furnishings, a Seth-Thomas clock set to the time of the robbery, the original bank vault and a museum store.

Missouri is a state filled with a great deal of 1800’s history. Adding the scenic state and it’s many venues to your western trip vacation planner is well worth it.

(Article copyright Western Trips. Photos and images in the public domain. Patee House and Clay County Savings Assoc. photos from Creative Commons Share Alike 2.5 License. )

People of the Civil War

Union Soldiers and the Draft

One of the most interesting facts about the American Civil War, and there are many, was the composition of the troops involved on both sides. Who were the soldiers? Who were the volunteers? Why did they join the fight? Who were some of the famous immigrants from the Civil War? There were large divisions in the country and sides were being taken. Often times families themselves were split in their loyalties.

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Civil War Sword Bayonet

In the book, The Civil War: Strange & Fascinating Facts, author Burke Davis states that the White House itself was an example of the divisions in the country. President Abraham Lincoln’s brothers-in-law wore Confederate uniforms. One was even charged with brutality to Union prisoners in Richmond Virginia.

The Union instituted a draft. The Enrollment Act, passed by the Thirty-seventh Congress in response to the need to increase the ranks of the Union army, made all  males between the ages of twenty and forty-five subject to the draft. There were exceptions of course. If you were the only son of a widow, physically impaired or mentally ill, you could avoid the draft. The biggest issue in this bill, different from drafts during the twentieth century, was the allowing of draftees to pay $300 to a substitute who served for them. It’s been written that some of the wealthier draftees paid up to $1,100 for a substitute which in that day was an enormous sum. Three familiar names who all qualified for the draft but never served were the former president, Grover Cleveland, the Cleveland merchant John D. Rockefeller and the New York lawyer George Templeton Strong.

Immigrants in the Civil War

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Union Gunboat USS Cairo on Mississippi River, 1862

Civil War statistics  show the people born outside the United States played a larger role in the war than many may realize. The vast majority of the immigrants resided in the north. The figures were about 4 million in the north compared to about 230,000 in the south. To give you an idea of the number of Civil War immigrants  in the Civil War, regiments serving the north during the war, a partial list of the regiments were as follows…

In regards to Germans, they comprised ten regiments from New York, six in Ohio, six in Missouri, five from Pennsylvania, four from Wisconsin and three in Illinois. There were more spread around the country.

The Irish had two pure regiments from Massachusetts, three others in New England and four from New York. There were also two in Pennsylvania and Indiana. In regards to immigrant participation, among the famous people of the Civil War were Colonel Franz Spigel shown in the photo below.

The south had Civil War immigrants dressed in gray as well. The south had five Generals who were born in Ireland. The south had companies composed of Germans, Poles, Frenchmen, Mexican and Spaniards. Foreign nationals served in the Confederate Army as well. A claim was made by one Canadian that some 40,000 of his countrymen fought for the south although that figure might have been largely exaggerated. One Louisiana regiment reportedly was comprised of fighters of thirty-seven nationalities.

The German Immigrants of Missouri

missouri governor jackson

Claiborne Fox Jackson, 15th Governor of Missouri

It’s very interesting to explore many of the regiments put together on the Union side. Missouri is an interesting example look at. The Missouri example highlights just how important immigrants were for the Union cause. According to the Missouri Civil War Museum, the governor of Missouri did not wish to answer Lincoln’s call for troops. In fact, Missouri Gov. Jackson preferred the State to join the Confederacy but he didn’t have the votes to back it up. What he did do however was appoint a southern sympathizer as head of the Missouri Militia.

As history notes, Missouri was the site of some of the worse atrocities to occur during the war. These included raids by the likes of Jesse James and Quantrills Raiders. Missouri had many of it’s citizens join up on both sides of the conflict. The state sympathies were heavily divided and this fact explains why some of the most violent encounters took place there.

The German community in St. Louis understood the political situation. They knew what Governor Jackson’s feelings were and watched the situation carefully. The Germans were pro Union. Eventually, German immigrants formed their own militia regiments and drilled them in secret. What they were waiting for was word from Washington to act and of course arms. They were ready, willing and able to act against the state if Jackson went ahead with plans to secede. President Lincoln through a St. Louis Congressman knew quite well what the situation was. As a result, Lincoln did give the okay for the German armed militias and sent an army captain named Nathaniel Lyons from Kansas to St. Louis.

The Breaking Point in Missouri

immigrants of the civil war

German immigrant Colonel Franz Sigel, 3rd Missouri Infantry

The tipping point with the Missouri situation occurred in May of 1861. This is when the Missouri Volunteer State Militia gathered at Camp Jackson, just north of St. Louis at the behest of Governor Jackson. Here Gov. Jackson’s forces received arms and ammunition from the Confederate Government. Many of these war supplies were stolen from the Federal Arsenal at Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Lyons rallied his forces composed of ten regiments of primarily German American, an artillery battery and two companies of U.S. Infantry (regular Army). This massive force, approximately 10,000 men was set in motion to capture the 700 man Missouri State forces at Camp Jackson situated on ground now occupied by St. Louis University. The Union forces were able to stop the secession movement in Missouri. The U.S. Infantry and the German regiments were instrumental in keeping the Unions western gateway open. Civil War immigrants, particularly German immigrants, were the key to saving Missouri from secession.

Three additional photo articles we’ve published that you’ll find interesting are The Confederate Navy and the Civil War Submarines. On our Western Trips site see the Civil War Infantry photo article.

Planned Missouri Civil War Museum

There were many interesting and diverse groups of people of the Civil War. There are also many venues to explore on the subject. Below are two sites in Missouri which will make excellent additions to your Missouri road trip planner.

The Missouri Civil War Museum is located within the Jefferson Barracks Historic Site in St. Louis, Missouri. The museum facility is located at the west side of the Jefferson Barrack’s historic grass parade grounds. This site is recognized as the oldest active military installation west of the Mississippi River. This museum is focused on Missouri during the Civil War. It is the fourth largest Civil War Museum in the nation and one of the largest Civil War research libraries in the nation. The museum’s stated purpose is to educate the public of the true aspects and history of the American Civil War and its relevance to the state of Missouri. At this museum,  Missouri’s unique Civil War story is brought to light with artifacts and exhibits. As of this writing, the museum is still being worked on.

The museum hopes to open in late 2012 .For the latest information on the museum’s opening you may want to refer to the museum website.

www.mcwm.org

Another must stop for Civil War buffs is the Carthage Civil War Museum in Carthage Missouri. The Carthage museum showcases artifacts and information about the Battle of Carthage and the Civil War in southwest Missouri. Also on display is information  on one of Carthage’s famous residents, “Belle Starr“. Carthage is about 272 miles southwest of St. Louis in the southwestern corner of the state near Joplin.

Two good books to explore the subject further are The Civil War: Strange & Fascinating Facts by author Burke Davis and Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border by Donald L. Gilmore.

(Photo of Civil War Sword from author’s collection. Remaining photos from the public domain)

 

 

American Royal

The American Royal Livestock Show is all about the famous history of the Kansas City Stockyards. During it’s peak activity, the Kansas City Stockyards were second only to those in Chicago. Kansas City was known to be the gateway to the west. Centrally located and on the heavy traveled railroad lines, the stockyards in Kansas City was the hub of activity during the later 1800’s and was busy through he 1940’s.

american royal

1922 American Royal poster

The last cattle went out the stockyard chutes in the 1990’s. Kansas City today, being a great metropolis with 2 million plus people with a diverse economy, has of course changed greatly and the history of it’s stockyards have largely faded into history.

The American Royal

The legacy of the stockyards is what the American Royal is all about. The American Royal is a non-profit organization that runs the country’s largest livestock show. The American Royal however is much more than simply a livestock show. The annual event which takes place from about September to Thanksgiving weekend also includes a rodeo and what many feel is the country’s largest barbecue competition. The annual event begins with a parade in downtown Kansas City.

There are about forty events in all showcased. The annual event that today is called the American Royal was started back in 1899 and first called the Hereford Show. In 1901 the Kansas City Drover’s Telegram paper suggested to call it The American Royal and the name stuck. While the American Royal started as a cattle show in 1899, horse shows were added in 1907. Today, it’s estimated that the American Royal adds about $70 million dollars per year to the Kansas City economy.

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Kansas City Stockyards was at the old site of the Overland Stage Company

The Kansas City Stockyards

The Kansas City Stockyards were founded in 1871 on at the time thirteen acres in the West Bottoms area of the Kansas City. By 1878 the stockyards grew to fifty-five acres. Where the stockyards was founded was a rather historic area. The West Bottoms, just west of downtown Kansas City was the home of the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company. This was the company that supplied settlers heading west. It was also the same company that operated the famed Pony Express during 1861. The Pony Express, while being very successful on an operational level never made money. In fact, it lost a lot of money and the Central Overland Company went out of business in 1862. This was also the same time that the transcontinental telegraph was completed.

The Kansas City Stockyards remained busy for decades. From it’s very start in 1871, the stockyards stayed active through the 1940’s. The Great Flood of 1951 virtually destroyed the stockyard area and the business never really recovered after that. The last animal passed through it’s gates in 1991.

kansas city stockyards

Kansas City Stockyards, 1904

We have two additional Trips Into History photo articles you’ll find interesting. Cattle Drives and Cowboys and the Professional Rodeo Cowgirls.

Also, on our Western Trips site see the American Quarter Horse Museum in Amarillo Texas.

The American Royal and Agricultural Students

The American Royal is much more than a series of events. In 1926, the American Royal invited agriculture students to be a part of judging livestock. In 1928 a group of these students gathered and formed the Future Farmers of America. In 1988 the name was changed to the National FFA Organization. In addition to agriculture production, the organization includes science, business and technology. It’s an important distinction to note that the National Future Farmers of America is the largest career and technical student organization in US schools. The entire organization strives to build leadership qualities to nurture the students abilities and experience in a variety of agricultural fields. The organization also reaches Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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Champion bronc Rider Bonnie McCarroll being thrown from horse

American Royal Events

Among the events you can enjoy in addition to the livestock shows is the PRCA Gold Tour Rodeo. This rodeo tour draws the top PRCA cowboys and WPRA cowgirls. The event usually takes place in Kansas City’s Sprint Center. Other events such as the Cutting Horse and the UPHA National Championships are typically held in the Hale Arena and Kemper Arena. Cowgirls made a name for themselves as early as 1900 when they first competed in local competitions. These included names such as Bonnie McCarroll, Connie Douglas Reeves, May Lillie, Annie oakley and Lucille Mulhall.

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Bronco Buster

The United Professional Horsemen’s Association is an association of Professional Horsemen and Horsewomen who have joined together to improve the horse show industry and define and clarify their professionalism within the industry. Saddlebreds, Hackney Ponies, and Road Horses from UPHA chapters throughout the United States come to Kansas City to compete for more than $200,000 in prize money and the honor of being national champions.There are fourteen different classes where champions are crowned during the event.

The American Royal BBQ is one of the nation’s biggest barbeque competitions. Contestants come to Kansas City from all over the world. The event is held in the parking lots both inside and around the Kemper Arena. To give you an idea of the popularity of this barbecue competition, it’s estimated that about 70,000 people attend each year. A popular part of the barbecue competition and one that has been going on for twenty-five years is the Barbecue Sauce Competition. Categories for judging are Tomato Hot, Tomato Mild, Vinegar, Mustard, and Specialty. The Barbecue Sauce Contest is open to anyone with a sauce that is available commercially. Contestants may enter as many sauces as they wish as long as all of them conform to the competitions rules. Rules can be found at the American Royal Barbecue Rules site.

Visit Kansas City

There are a great many fun things to do in Kansas City. Planning a visit to Kkansas City during the fall when The American Royal is going on just adds to the many things to enjoy in this very diverse city. Some additional sites to add to your Kansas City trip planner are the National World War I Museum, the very popular and historic Steamboat Arabia Museum, the Harley-Davidson Factory Tour, the Hallmark Visitors Center and Missouri Town 1855.

(Photos and images from the public domain)

Belle Starr

 

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Belle Starr with pistol in 1880's

Carthage Missouri was a violent place during the American Civil War. Carthage is a locale today where interested people and history buffs can learn about Belle Starr, “The Bandit Queen“, her family and the circumstances of how a young lady from an upstanding and influential family could turn into one of the most notorious females of the frontier west. The Carthage Civil War Museum located at 205 South Grant Street offers a lot of history as to just how violent the Civil War was not only in that town but pretty much all over Missouri. Also, make a note to visit the Powers Museum at 1617 Oak Street in Carthage. The Powers Museum presents rotating exhibits on local and Missouri history..   You can even see a wax figure of Belle Starr on her horse at the Historical Wax West Museum in Colorado Springs Colorado.

In many ways Belle Starr was a product of the American Civil War. Amazingly, her story is about a young woman, who after being born and raised in a prosperous and influential family, turned into probably the most infamous female outlaw of the latter 1800’s. A young lady who received a private school education and learned to play the piano quite well would spend her later days in the company of murderers, horse thieves and cattle rustlers. How and why this all came about is an interesting story.

The Civil War in Missouri was extremely violent. Missouri had a mixture of both Union and Confederate supporters and partisan violence was widespread. This was the time of Quantrill’s Raiders, a band of pro Southern guerrilla fighters who killed many and destroyed more than one town. William Quantrill‘s raiding and pillaging became so bad and so bloody that the Confederacy publicly disavowed the group. Quantrill of course continued on until finally he was killed by Union troops. It was in this atmosphere that Belle Starr, real name Myra Maebelle Shirley, came of age.

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Image of Battle of Carthage Missouri, 1861

The Shirley family originally came to Missouri from Virginia. The family like many in Missouri were southern sympathizers. In fact, the very young Myra Maebelle was suspected as being a Confederate spy/messenger. She was smart enough not to be caught carrying messages so there were never any charges. Most Belle Starr historians point to the time when Starr’s younger brother Bud was killed in the war, as a Confederate,  as the time of her transition. The story is that Belle and her father went to retrieve the body and an enraged Belle grabbed her brothers gun and tried to shoot the Union soldiers present. Fortunately, the gun caps had been removed and nothing occurred however it was an omen of things to come.

The Shirley family decided to resettle in Texas and did so just to the east of Dallas. Belle’s father set up a farm and cattle operation. His farm was also well known as a safe haven for southern sympathizers. It was while living with her family in Texas that a second, even larger transitional event, occurred. The excellent book, High Spirited Women of the West, by author Anne Seagraves, gives a good description of what transpired. It seems that the Shirley farm was visited by none other than Cole Younger and his gang. During the visit, both Belle and Younger became close and, to the chagrin of her father, Belle rode off with Younger. Never again would Belle’s life be the same.

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Gallows at Fort Smith Arkansas

Eventually, Belle Starr would have a daughter by Younger who later ended up in the Minnesota penitentiary as a result of the botched Northfield Minnesota bank robbery attempt with his friend Jesse James. The relationship was over but there would be several times after his release from prison that Younger would pay a visit to Belle.

As a side note, Belle Starr was not the only female to enter a life of crime because of infatuation, love or whatever it may have been. You may be interested in reading another short article we’ve published about Pearl Hart, the female outlaw stagecoach robber.

Our article about Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok is also a very interesting story.

The person we know as Belle Starr would marry several times in her life. Throughout, she kept the surname of Starr even though she married several times and had even more affairs. Unfortunately, the spouses she chose wouldn’t be all that different than the likes of Cole Younger. All of their job descriptions could be summed up as stagecoach robbing, horse stealing, bank robbery, cattle rustling, gun play and general theft. These were the people Belle would chose to surround herself with and sometimes marry. The former private school student and piano player would go ahead and buy pearl handled revolvers.

Belle would go on to have another child, a son. Due to Belle Starr’s hectic life, unfortunately, or possibly fortunately for the children, there would be several times that the children would be taken care of by their loving grandparents, the Shirleys down in Texas.

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"The Hanging Judge", Issac Parker

There was one period that Belle Starr and her current husband Sam Starr were arrested for horse stealing. This was 1883 and both were tried by Judge Issac Parker, the “Hanging Judge” at Fort Smith Arkansas. Both were convicted and given nine month sentences which were fairly light in relation to the crime and the judge who tried the case. Belle was released early and Sam served his full sentence. When Sam was released, he returned to their ranch at Younger’s Bend. Youngers Bend of course was named as such by Belle who still felt close to Cole Younger. The couple stayed out of trouble for a while but the lure of horse theft lured them back into the world of crime.

Some interesting facts about Belle Starr and her offspring. The only time she went to prison was for the 1883 horse theft conviction. her son Ed who had grown up being sent back and forth to live with Belle, relatives and family friends grew up to be a deputy marshal married to a Cherokee schoolteacher. In 1886 he was shot to death during a quarrel with a saloon keeper. Belle’s daughter, Pearl, had a daughter Flossie who she put up for adoption. She later turned to prostitution and ended up as a madame with a house she ran for twenty-three years. She was known as Pearl Starr.

Belle Starr herself was killed on February 3, 1889 at 41 years of age near Eufaula Oklahoma. The exact circumstances were never uncovered, in fact some even suspected her son Ed, however lawmen had a fairly good guess as to what happened. Pearl’s husband at the time, Jim July Starr, was convinced by Belle to turn himself in at Fort Smith for the charge against him of larceny. She convinced Starr that the charges were so weak that an acquittal was eminent. Belle Starr was to accompany him halfway to the Fort and Jim would continue on alone. As Belle turned around to head back to Youngers Bend, a neighbor heard a loud shot gun blast. Belle Starr was later found dead by a shotgun blast to her back. Whoever the murderer was then shot Belle twice more with her own pistol. While just about everyone suspected, Edgar Watson, a neighbor of Belle and the man who claimed he heard the blast. The relationship between Belle and Watson was never good and he was eventually tried but was acquitted. The question of who killed Belle Starr has never been conclusively answered.

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Cole Younger as a young man

Jim July Starr, who Belle had been escorting halfway to Fort Smith Arkansas in 1883, was himself killed in 1890 by a young deputy who the story says was convinced that Jim July had murdered Belle Starr and was avenging her death. Probably one of the strangest of all tales coming out of the Belle Starr story concerns the outlaw and ex-convict Cole Younger. Younger was released from his latest incarceration in 1901 and became, of all things, a tombstone salesman. He somehow received a full pardon at which time he put together the Cole Younger-Frank James Wild West Show. Frank James of course being the older brother of murdered Jesse James. Apparently the world wide success that Buffalo Bill Cody attained with his Wild West influenced people from all walks of life.

Belle Starr’s life story, as was the case with the James and Younger families just to name a few, was influenced more than anything by the Civil War and the violence, bloodshed and partisan animosity resulting from it. This animosity lasted for years. The crime sprees of the James, Youngers and Starrs lasted for years after the Civil War. Many people contend that these crime sprees were in fact a continuation of that war, just more on a personal level.