Women in the West: Outlaws of Legend –

The references we have on the “Wild West”, they are the ones that have come to us through novels and movies. In all these stories, each member of the family had a clear and defined role. The man took care of the cattle, farm, etc. while the woman took care of the home, the children, the food, the garden and she helped her husband with the farm work. But in the real history of the coquista of the West, they existed women who were not satisfied with being lovers wives, women who did not want to depend on a father or a husband and who, although forgotten, were also part of the difficult colonization of the West. This article is dedicated to those women who opted for another type of life, in a period in which the prevailing law was that of the strongest, we are going to meet Women in the Wild West: Outlaws of Legend.

Women in the West: Outlaws of Legend | Situation

The Conquest of the West is not a wave that occurred at a specific time, but rather encompasses a historical period that spanned the entire 19th century. An initiative that started from President Thomas Jefferson, to expand the borders by expanding into the Pacific, after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

The way of life was certainly very harsh, practically uncharted territory, where he was given a few acres of land to anyone who ventured to reach the distant lands of the West. The advantage that colonization had is that it had the greatest advances of the time. The railway It was one of the first infrastructures to be developed, facilitating the arrival of the population and creating settlements along the entire railway line.

the laws that originally governed these small settlements, They were basic laws, of urbanity and good coexistence, they maintained a quiet community without too many shocks. The problem came when those small settlements grew both in size and importance.

The towns that had railway stops were much larger and more important, as were those that had a post office or Pony Express (fast mail company that linked the Atlantic with the Pacific, crossing the entire US on horseback or stagecoach).

With the growth of these settlements, banks began to be established and with them, the ideal ingredients for outlaws and thieves to proliferate. Banks, Railway and Pony Express, the money had to reach the banks through any of the two existing forms of transport, rail or Pony Express (mail), becoming, any of the three places, the ideal places for robberies.

Women in the West: Outlaws of Legend | The woman

The situation of women during the nineteenth century, It was practically irrelevant. they were not admitted to higher educational institutions, relegating them, at best, to knowing how to read and write. 19th century american woman she earned less than a man, had no right to vote and owned nothing, since the dowry passed directly from the father to the husband, quickly becoming its owner.

the american woman of the 19th century, I had no opinion either, among other things because nobody cared and was also frowned upon. All these differences with respect to men, he had a scientific reason, women’s brains were smaller than a man’s, so there was no need to spend much time on them, since they would not learn as quickly or as easily as a man.

With these “scientific advances” against women, their role became even harsher than that of men. The vast majority of them resigned themselves to that role, further supported by a great religious devotion that reaffirmed even more the secondary role that women should have, that of housewife, loving wife and good mother.

But there were always exceptions brave women capable of facing a world of men, women who could not and did not want to remain silent, who did not want to depend on more than themselves. These women who broke the norm and who went on to swell the lists of the most wanted outlaws in the West.

They are the great forgottenmany of them were forgiven for being women, It doesn’t seem like there were too many female outlaws though.

Women who stood out in the West were several, calamity janeknown as the “white devil of Yellowstone” or Juanita Calamidad, explorer, with an enviable aim, participated in different battles against the Indians, Annie Oakley, woman skillful with the revolver and with the lasso, she came to participate in the Buffalo Bill show, Sarah Winnemucaadvocate and spokesperson for American Indians, etc.

But without a doubt, if we have to talk about women in the conquest of the west, specifically in the Outlaws of Legend, we cannot forget Myra Maybelle Shirley, better known as The Belle Starr.

Women in the West: Outlaws of Legend | the belle starr

Myra Maybelle Shirley or Belle Starr, was born in Missouri, in Jasper County, the February 5, 1848, her parents led a quiet life as farmers, Myra was the second daughter of 5 who had the marriage formed by John Shirley and Elisabeth Pennington. When the family moved to Carthage, she began to prosper running various businesses such as saloons, inns and stables.

Myra grew up as an upper middle class girlShe took piano lessons, was instructed in the classical languages, knew how to ride a mackerel, and often practiced shooting with her brother Bud. With the arrival of the civil war, her brother Bud was called up and died in 1864.

Broken with grief, the family decided move to Texas there they continued their lives, Myra studying and obtaining very good grades, although it is in this period when the whole family begins to maintain contact with criminal gangs to those who the Shirleys gave shelter and shelter, it is known that among these criminals the famous outlaw was found, Jesse James.

In 1866, she married Jim Reed.an old family friend, settling down again in Missouri, where their first daughter Rossi Lee was born, whom they nicknamed Pearl. Jim moved through not very recommended environments, delinquent friends like Tom Starr, who began to introduce him in the world of theftstarting with cattle rustling and the illegal sale of alcohol.

But the murder in a robbery that the authorities impute to Jim, he forces the whole family to move their residence to California, where they would settle in 1869, it will be here that their son James Edwin will be born, whom they nicknamed com “Ed”. New successive robberies led the family to constantly change their state.

They settled in indian territory thinking that his life there would be easier, at this moment Jim had a reward for his capture. But robbery of the grayson familyI would change the story of Myra, in this robbery the complaint of the presence of a womanput her in the spotlight. They would flee again and this time they would return to Texas, where Jim would commit his last robbery, in 1874 while trying to escape from the police after committing a robbery, he was cornered and shot down.

From here we can say that the legend of bellestarr, partly exaggerated by the press, which needed shocking news. Years passed and Belle was reunited with an old family friend, a Starr, but this time it was Tom Starr’s son named Sam. In 1880 they got married, lived in Texas for a while to later move to Arkansas.

Sam just like Belle’s family did, gave shelter to bandits operating in the area. As he passed through his life in 1882 they were accused of robbery for finding horses on their property that they did not own. The couple was arrested and released 9 months later. In 1886 Belle was seen again with justice by facilitating the escape Outlaw Middleton.

another assault in which a woman was involved, splashed Belle, who escaped jail time thanks to a paid bail. The environment in which Belle developed was not the most appropriate, her husband constantly fleeing from justice, her father-in-law in prison for smuggling Whiskey. worst in 1886, Belle is widowed again, later he would romantically join different bandits.

until Bill July, adopted son of Tom Starr arrives at the lands of his stepbrother Sam, to claim them, since after his death the claim by the widow was ceased, not knowing relatives, it would be the Indian authorities who would account for them. Bill July also married Belle, they remained running a hostel until in 1889, one February morningwhile Bill was facing trial, Belle set out to go shopping in the neighboring town of San Bois, on the way home, Belle was killed.

The culprit or culprits were never known but it is true that many were the suspects, including their children, but it was never clarified what happened and who was the culprit. What if it has remained in time it’s the tombstone his daughter Pearl had him inscribed on.

Do not shed bitter tears for her,
Nor give your heart to useless sorrow;
From the coffin that lies here,
The gem it contains still shines.

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Women in the West: Outlaws of Legend | Photos