Clipped From The Paris News
'The Red River Valley' Belle Starr's Death Disputed (This is another installment of "The Red River Valley";Then and Now," by the late editor of The Paris News^in connection with the nation's Bicentennial. Copies of thevbook are available at The Paris News front desk.) By A. W. NEVILLE Copyright, 1948, ; North Texas Pub. Co. : Belle Starr lived with other husbands from time to time after Sam Starr's death. John Wyche, resident of Hugo, Oklahoma, told me of her death. John Wyche's grandmother was a sister of Tom Starr, and John had spent much time with the Starrs when a boy. He knew Belle and the others of the clan. He said that Belle was riding along a little-used road from Briartown to Eufaula, in 1889, when she was shot and killed. Her murderer * wirs 1 - " ; never *scovered, - nor was the eause for the crime known. .* -•.•,.-_ .7 '. r FRANK Dalton, an uncle of the Dalton brothers who for years terrorized parts of the West, robbing trains and banks, gave in his published reminiscences his version of Belle's death. He said Ed Reed, Belle's son, had become an outlaw in a small way and had served two brief terms in Federal .prisons. In February, 1889, Ed was being sought by officers on a charge of robbing a store in Catoosa, in the Cherokee Nation. Dalton said Ed went to his mother's home and hid in the brush near it, waiting for night to go in and ask his mother for money. In the dusk he saw a man peering about in the yard and deciding the man was an officer searching for him, he fired, and killed Belle. She was dressed in men's clothes, as she usually did when at home, and was looking for a hole in the fence through which pigs had been getting into the field. That is Dalton's story, but he did not say how he knew what Belle was doing when killed, nor did he say how he knew who killed her. The story sounds imaginary to me. NEWSPAPERS in Indian Territory told of Ed Reed as a great outlaw, giving him some of his mother's reputation, but people who knew him said he was a small-time criminal. He was charged with stealing some cattle from an Indian, but evidence was that the Indian did not own a hoof and was a self- confessed perjurer, so Ed was released from Fort Smith jail. Later he was implicated in some minor violations of the laws, and agreed that if allowed to do so he would leave the Territory and never come back. BELLE REED was in jail in Lamar County briefly not long before Jim Reed was killed. T. J. Vansant, who was born in Van Buren, Arkansas, and who when a small boy often saw old Tom Starr, came to Lamar County after serving in the Confederate Army. He settled in the southern part of the county and had a store near where now is the town of Ben Franklin. One morning in 1874 three men rode LOOK! AT DICK HOUSE'S IN EAST PARIS by the store in a hurry. Presently an officer rode up and asked if anyone had passed. Vansant told him of the three men and the officer said one was Belle Starr who often wore men's clothing when out with her husband, Jim Reed. She was called Belle Starr even then, because of her association with that clan. The officer had come from the vicinity of Dallas, trailing Reed, and Vansant and some others went with him in the direction the three riders had gone. They went nearly to Honey Grove, did not find the men, and started back. When near Roxton, Lamar County, they overtook a woman on horseback. She wore a riding skirt but Vansant recognized her as one of the three he had seen pass his store. She denied it, but finally 'admitted her identity and said she was trying to help her husband elude the officers. She was taken in charge and a local officer took her to Paris and she was put in jail, but was released after a day or two as there was no charge against her in Lamar County. It was about this time that Jim Reed was killed.