For the last few weeks I’ve been working on some family research for a friend who has a familial connection to Belle Starr. In the course of my reading and gathering facts I found a photo of Belle Starr’s gravestone as it looked when she was buried. The reason I say it that way is that since then the family has moved her stone to protect it because vandals were chipping off pieces of it for souvenirs.
My research was for the Griffin family, which has a non-blood relation to Belle Starr through the marriage of Looney Hicks Griffin who was married (1) to Wenona Starr, daughter of Thomas and Catherine Reese Starr. As I read about the exploits of some of the Griffin family (Looney and cousins Felix and Thomas) in Oklahoma (Indian Territory at the time) so many side stories came into context: The shameful way the Cherokee were treated; how the Civil War affected all ethnicities for many years to come through gang wars, robbery, and general deprivation.
I believe that Belle Starr was a woman who was going to survive at all costs, and that is exactly what she did. The one thing I found interesting was the story I was told by one of the Griffin family who would have heard the tale from his ancestors, and his belief about how Belle died was quite different than I had read previously. He said that Belle’s son Eddie Reed was on lookout in a tree near the Canadian River at Youngers Bend. He was armed and if anyone came across the river and didn’t call out the password to shoot them on sight. He related that Belle was coming back from across the river and forgot to yell out the password. Eddie, not knowing it was his mother, fired and shot her.
Whether any of that is true is not for me to say. If anyone knows what really happened they are most likely dead and gone now. Not saying my source was wrong, but I have no proof he was right either. It does seem plausible though that if it was her son that accidentally shot her the family might have wanted to keep that under their hats.
So, how does the headstone tie into the Graveyard Rabbit carnival theme – The Interesting, The Odd, The Beautiful? I had never seen Belle Starr’s gravestone before I began working on the Griffin-Starr genealogy connection. I understood immediately the significance of the bell and the star on the stone, but what of the meaning of the horse? The engraving is of Belle’s favorite black mare Venus who was shot and killed by Frank West as he pursued Sam Starr. In the heyday of Belle Starr a good horse was worth its weight in gold there in cattle country, which is no doubt one of the reasons some of the crimes of which she was accused was horse thievery. It all figures in then, and perhaps the horse is the beauty in all of that lawlessness.
Women in History. Belle Starr biography. Last Updated: 3/9/2010. Lakewood Public Library. Date accessed 5/22/2010 . .
The topic for the June 2010 edition of the Graveyard Rabbits Carnival is: The Interesting, The Odd, The Beautiful.
This topic was submitted by Gail Wall, who authors the blog, Digital Cemetery Walk, and I think it’s going to be a very interesting carnival. How odd can they be? Come on Rabbits, show us.
Submit your post to the carnival using the submission form at http://blogcarnival.com/bc/submit_6260.html . Submissions for this edition are due by May 25. Be sure to include a short description of your post in the “remarks” section of the submission form.