Belle Starr, an American outlaw in Texas and Oklahoma territory, was born on this day in 1848.  Take a deep breath and say her real name.  Ready?  Okay…  Myra Maybelle Shirley Reed Starr.  I think I know why she shortened it to Belle Starr.  She was known by her family as simply “May”. 

Born on a small farm in a log cabin near Carthage, Missouri, she was educated in the classics and became an accomplished pianist.  It seemed she was heading for a respectable middle-class life, her direction changed with the outbreak of the Civil War, which ruined her father’s business as a Carthage innkeeper and claimed the life of her brother Edwin.  The Shirley family decided to make  a fresh start in Texas.

In June, 1864, Belle’s brother John was shot and killed by Union militia as he tried to escape from a house the soldiers had surrounded.

In 1866 the James and Younger brothers were accused of robbing the Liberty, Missouri bank, which was the first peacetime daylight bank robbery in history.

Belle was associated with the James-Younger gang and other outlaws.  In 1883 she was convicted of horse theft.  Her story was made popular by Richard Fox and later became an interesting character in television and movies.

 If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.  – Alan Simpson

Even though she developed a reputation as a “Bandit Queen” of the Old West, she really did little more than steal some horses and harbor some fugitive friends.  She was an expert rider who could handle a gun and she was associated with famous outlaws such as Frank and Jesse James.

 The love of property and consciousness of right and wrong have conflicting places in our organization, which often makes a man’s course seem crooked, his conduct a riddle.   – Abraham Lincoln

Sometimes it may seem like a person’s path is changed by circumstances, and to some degree I suppose that could be true.  We are certainly tempted to change our direction when difficult situations arise.  But we need to remember we always have a choice between right and wrong, no matter what the circumstances seem to dictate.  God gives each of us free will.  May we choose wisely and glorify Him.  🙂