While here, she kindly granted your correspondent a long interview concerning her past life, but made it plainly understood that she had but little use for newspaper reporters, who, she claims, at various time, have done her great injustices. Being asked for a brief sketch of her career, she said, in substance, that she was born at Carthage, Mo., and was 32 years old last February. In 1863, her father, being a Confederate, removed with his family to Texas, where he continued to reside after the close of the war. After the surrender, Quantrell’s men came to the locality, and were, at all times, welcome guests at her father’s home
About six weeks after the marriage, her husband, being an outlaw, was forced to flee from the country, and he went to Missouri, leaving her in Texas. Her father learned of the hasty departure, and in order to induce her to return home, sent her a message that her mother was dangerously ill, and her presence was requested in haste. She immediately went home, but found she had been duped, as her mother was not sick at all, and it was then she experienced her first captivity, for the old gentleman locked her up and kept her in confinement for about two weeks, after which, he gave her a choice of going to school in San Antonio, or to a small place in Parker County. She was placed in school at the latter place and remained there for some time, but was not allowed to communicate with any one outside of her family.
While there, her husband again came to Texas, and after considerable trouble, learned where she was and came after her.BELLE’S FIRST TASTE OF OUTLAWRY.
By this time, her admiration for him had become somewhat impaired, and, at first, she refused to go with him, but after considerable persuasion, she borrowed a horse from a young fellow who was attending the same school, ostensibly to take a short ride, and meeting her husband, after dark, they struck out for Missouri, where her husband purchased a farm and made an effort to settle down and lead an upright life. He was harassed by enemies to such an extent that he could not live in peace, and finally, they killed his brother, and, in return, he killed two of them, after which, they again fled to Texas, and from there, went to Los Angeles, Cal., and remained in that State for some time. From there, they again returned to Texas, and her husband was killed. Having followed the fortunes of an outlaw, thus far, she has since been true to his friends and comrades, and she has continued to associate with men of his calling, having lived among the Indians nearly ever since, with the exception of two years spent in Nebraska. She has spent some of the time among the wild tribes. The following note she handed to your corespondent just before starting for home, which she had written hurriedly, and is given verbatim:TOLD BY THE LADY HERSELF.
“After a more adventurous life than generally falls to the lot of woman, I settled permanently in the Indian Territory, selecting a place of picturesque beauty on the Canadian River. There, far from society, I hoped to pass the remainder of my life in peace and quietude. So long had I been estranged from the society of women, whom I thoroughly detest, that I thought I would find it irksome to live in their midst. So, I selected a place that but few have ever had the gratification of gossiping around.
“For a time, I lived very happily in the society of my little girl and husband, a Cherokee Indian, son of the noted Tom Starr. But, it soon became noised around that I was a woman of some notoriety from Texas, and from that time on, my home and actions have been severely criticized.VISITS FROM NOTED OUTLAWS.
“My home became famous as an outlaws’ ranch long before it was visited by any of the boys who were friends of mine in times past. Indeed, I never correspond with any of my old associates, and was desirous my whereabouts should be unknown to them. Through rumor, they learned of it. Jesse James first came in and remained several weeks. He was unknown to my husband, who never knew until long afterward, that our home had been honored by Jesse’s presence. I introduced Jesse as one Mr. Williams from Texas. But, few outlaws have visited my home, notwithstanding so much has been said. The best people in the country are my friends. I have considerable ignorance to cope with, consequently, my troubles originate mostly in that quarter. Surroun
ded by a low down class of shoddy whites, who have made the Indian country their home to evade paying tax on their dogs, and, who I will not permit to hunt on my premises, I am the constant theme of their slanderous tongues. In all the world, there is no woman more peaceably inclined than I.”VERY MUCH LIED ABOUT.
In relating her experience during the past three years, she says since the return of herself and husband from Detroit, Mich., where they served one term of less than a year for alleged horse stealing, her name has been coupled with every robbery or other depredation that has been committed in the Territory, and in a spirit of mirth, she said:
“I am the best guarded woman in the Indian country, for when the deputy marshals are not there, somebody else is.”
In speaking of her recent arrest by Deputy Tyner Hughes, she said she was never more dumbfounded in her life than when he rode boldly up to her house and informed her he had come to serve a writ. She was not used to that manner of approach, as the Marshals generally came into the Bend with a crowd of from twenty-five to forty men and crawled upon their hands and knees in the darkness.
“And, whenever you see a deputy Marshal come in,” said she, “with the knees of his pants worn out, you may be sure he has invaded Youngers’ Bend. Hughes is a brave man and acted the gentleman in every particular, but I hardly believed he realized his danger.”DENIES THE ROBBERY.
Belle says she never heard of the robbery of Ferrell until she was arrested as the leader of the party who committed it, her accusers asserting she was in male attire. She admits that her husband is, at all times, on the scout to avoid arrest, and there are several charges of larceny, robbery, etc., against him, which have been trumped up by his enemies, who would not hesitate to swear him into the penitentiary, should he surrender and stand trial.AT HOME.
When at home, her companions are her daughter, Pearl (whom she calls the “Canadian Lily”), her horse and her two trusty revolvers, which she calls her “babies.” The horse she rides, she has owned for nearly five years, and no one ever feeds or handles him but herself, and it would be risky business for anyone else to attempt to ride him. She says she has been offered $300 for him, time and time again, but that $500 would not get him. He is a small sorrel horse, and when in good condition, is a beautiful animal, but looked rather the worse for hard riding when here last week. Belle is a crack shot, and handles her pistol with as much dexterity as any frontiersman. No man enters Younger’s Bend without first giving a thorough account of himself before he gets out.
Belle related many incidents of her life that would be of interest, and says she had been offered big money by publishers for a complete history of it, but she does not desire to have it published just yet. She has a complete manuscript record, and when she dies, she will give it to the public. She spends most of her time writing when at home.
In winding up our interview, she said:
“You can just say I am a friend to any brave and gallant outlaw, but have no use for that sneaking, coward class of thieves who can be found in every locality, and who would betray a friend or comrade for the sake of their own gain. There are three or four jolly, good fellows on the dodge now in my section, and when they come to my home, they are welcome, for they are my friends, and would lay down their lives in my defense at any time the occasion demanded it, and go their full length to serve me in any way.”
This June 7, 1886 Dallas Morning News article was transcribed by Jim Wheat for his Dallas County Archives collection. Photo credit is given to Roeder Brothers-Heritage Auctions.