Saturday, February 02, 2013

BANDITS! (Real and Imagined)

This weekend marks the anniversary of the death of a woman known, in the USA, as The Bandit Queen: Belle Starr. She was murdered in Oklahoma on 3 February 1889, two days before her birthday, 5 February. (Photograph of the Belle Starr statue in Woolaroc, north-eastern Oklahoma. Hat tip to The World Rebooted website)

From Texas Originals at Humanities Texas website
When Belle Starr was shot to death in 1889, a newspaper declared her to be "a most desperate woman." Her killer was never identified. Many suspected her son, whom Belle had recently beaten for mistreating her horse. Her unsolved murder was a fitting end to a life that was a whirlwind of violence, crime, and legend.

She was born Myra Maybelle Shirley in 1848, and at the age of sixteen moved to the North Texas town of Scyene. She kept company with notorious criminals, including Jesse James. She married three times to three different outlaws and even spent time in prison for stealing horses.

Though she was ruthless to her enemies, she had a great capacity to make friends, and she even mingled with the Dallas elite during the brief periods when her gunfights and thievery gave way to respectable living.

But it was only after her death, at age forty, that her legend grew. The National Police Gazette invented new stories about her, and her embellished reputation continued to inspire popular novels and western films long after her death.

Stories circulated depicting Belle as an elegantly dressed woman riding atop a black mare, in a feathered black sombrero, toting a Colt .45 pistol that she called "my baby."

Instead of being remembered as a desperate criminal, she became a romantic symbol of the disappearing American West, known as "Belle Starr, the Bandit Queen."

Her story, as briefly told, but in more detail at This Day in History. See also BELLE STARR The Bandit Queen by Maggie Van Ostrand at Texas Escapes. Hat-tip to that website for the photograph below: Belle Starr and notorious outlaw Blue Duck.

More photographs, including of one of Belle Starr's weddings can be seen at The Ellison Collection.

I see that Belle Starr was a quadruple Aquarius with Sun Mercury, Neptune and Moon (if born before 7 PM) all in Aquarius. Sun in Aquarius and Uranus (the rebel planet) in Aries were helpfully blended via a sextile aspect. Ms Starr presents a good advert for the textbook, rebelliously eccentric, type of Aquarius some astrologers and textbook authors love to peddle. Sun Aquarians like Belle, though, outside of textbooks come few and far between - for which we should be truly thankful!

Above was an example of the real - now for an example of the imagined, from the vintage photograph collection, pen and vivid imagination of my husband aka anyjazz:

Link to husband's Flickr page where this photograph and narrative appeared originally some 5 years ago.

The Notorious Butterfat Gang
This is the last known photograph of the notorious Butterfat Gang of Seven who terrorized the dairy industry in the mid 1930’s. Harlan Underln, standing, center, led the gang in raids on milk trucks and neighborhood Rubber Baby Buggy Ice Cream wagons throughout Iowa and County Cork

The Butterfat Gang of Seven, (actually there were five or so members, but none of them could count) all descended in some way from lineage of the infamous robber, Dennis Moore of the 17th century in England. Highwayman Moore was noted for lupin(e)s and doing something completely different.

The method of the Butterfat Gang was simple. They would stand in the road and stop dairy delivery trucks. Eight or nine of the gang members would circle the truck and stand lookout. Three or four other members would then insist the driver sell them what ever stock was carried on the truck. The driver would then be obligated to return to the dairy and restock for the morning deliveries. This certainly confounded dairy owners not to mention the trauma experienced by many cows.

Their last caper was said to be the carefully planned robbery of the 2:40 AM milk train. It went awry when most of the gang members overslept. No one knows how many actually showed up as none of them could actually count. The engineer refused to stop the train anyway.

Throughout their reign of confusion, none of the gang was ever caught. Actually no one ever looked for them either. They all lived well into their fifties and died overweight

Heppel Whitsig, (seated, with cigar) invented the combination creel and picnic basket and went on to a successful retirement in poverty. He never married. His twin brother, Wimpole, (also seated but no cigar) was either the youngest or the oldest in the gang, depending on which account of his birth was accurate. His mother could not seem to recall the event.

Fred (too tall) Herringbun was not on the Titanic when it tragically struck an iceberg. He married young and his wife dressed him funny.

Gable Snoot, seventh from left in this picture, worked briefly as a store window model for suspenders (or braces). He was spotted there by a Hollywood movie director who went into hiding and was never seen again.

The rest of the gang is pretty much unknown but perhaps someone will recognize a relative or a neighbor here.

These events rarely get a notation in history books although some say the gang activities accelerated the research leading to the invention of the milking machine.


Note from your blogger: It's a real tragedy that the birth dates of the gang members remain unknown, for they would have greatly enhanced astrological data banks.....if the gang hadn't first held 'em up (the banks that is) and demanded a recount. None of the Butterfats ever got beyond that "one two button my shoe" business - "too high-falootin' for us country folk", they claimed.

My favourite gang members are Gable Snoot: hand on hip,at far right - or as anyjazz puts it "seventh from left" - Gable obviously had an inner urge to show-off - definite Leo-type; and Fred (too tall) Herringbun, far left was very obviously a docile and biddable lad married to a dominant fashionista: I'd guess Fred was a Pisces-type, except on Fridays.


♥ Sonny ♥ said...

she sure wasnt a great beauty, was she lol..

interesting life though.

mike said...

“She said, "You might become politicians."

"No!" cried Beni, with sudden fierceness; "we must not abandon our high calling. Bandits we have always been, and bandits we must remain!”

L. Frank Baum, American Fairy Tales

Twilight said...

Sonny ~~ In that pic she does look severe, though there are a couple of others on the net which are a bit kinder (if they really are of her, that is!)

We don't see many of her ilk nowadays -or maybe we do, but 21st century style they're not as easy to spot! ;-)

Twilight said...

mike ~~ LOL!

To paraphrase/parody a quote of Mark Twain:

“Reader, suppose you were a bandit. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

Wisewebwoman said...

And they glorified her with a statue which looks far better than her photographs!

Interesting our Belle, someone should make a movie.


Twilight said...

There is a film (1941) From Wiki:

Belle Starr is a Technicolor 1941 drama film from 20th Century Fox production, directed by Irving Cummings loosely based on the life of a real American outlaw Belle Starr. It stars Gene Tierney, Randolph Scott and Dana Andrews.

I bet it was highly romanticised and mostly fiction. :-)

James Higham said...

Gosh Twilight - and I thought there were only Bonnie and Ma Baker.

Twilight said...

James Higham ~~ I'm sure there are even more to discover....along similar lines but a tad less criminal - Poker Alice: