by Rocky Macy
John "Judge" SHIRLEY moved with his second wife, Elizabeth (PENNINGTON), and several family slaves to the community of Medoc (later name Georgia City) near Carthage, Jasper County, MO, shortly after their marriage in in 1837. There he raised fine Kentucky horses and farmed until buying a hotel and tavern on the town square of Carthage in 1858. The life and times of Judge SHIRLEY and his family would today be of interest to very few people if it were not for the fact that the SHIRLEY's third child, Myra Maebelle, grew up to become known as Belle STARR, "the Bandit Queen."
Noted author and folklorist, Phillip W. STEELE, has compiled the complete family history and genealogy of Belle STARR in his book, STARR Tracks: Belle and Pearl STARR. The genealogy that follows is but a small part of that fascinating book.
Judge and Elizabeth (PENNINGTON) SHIRLEY had six children: Charlotte A. (born 1838; married Mr. THOMPSON), John Allison "Bud" (1842-1864, killed in a guerrilla skirmish in southeastern Missouri during the Civil War), Myra Maebelle "Belle" (5 Feb 1848-3 Feb 1889), Edwin Benton (1850-1866, shot and killed by a man named PALMER in Texas), Mansfield (1852-1867, killed in a gunfight with lawmen in Indian Territory), and Cravens (a.k.a. Shug, Doc, and John Alva - born 1858). All of the SHIRLEY children were born in Missouri.
Myra Maebelle "Belle" was married four times. It was by her first husband, James C. "Jim" REED, that she had her only two children: Rose Pearl (1868-6 July 1925) and Edwin "Eddie" (1871-14 Dec 1896). Both father and son met violent deaths, with Jim (6 Feb 1845-6 Aug 1874) being shot by John MORRIS in Paris, TX, and Eddie being felled by gunshots from Joe GIBBS and J.W. CLARK in Claremore, OK. Rose Pearl went on to adopt the surname of her mother's third husband, Sam STARR, and she became notorious in her own right as a bordello operator in Ft. Smith, AR.
Belle STARR's other husbands were Bruce YOUNGER (a first cousin to outlaw Cole YOUNGER and a brother to the mother of the DALTON gang), and Jim JULY. Belle made her last husband, Jim, adopt the surname of his predecessor, Sam STARR, making him Jim JULY STARR. Some argue that Jim had a hand in Belle's murder in 1889.
Belle's son, Eddie, had no known children, so all of her descendants come from Pearl. Pearl had four children. The first was Mamie, an illegitimate daughter of Robert McCLURE. She was placed in an orphanage by a well-intentioned aunt, adopted, and became Flossie Pearl EPPLE. Mamie was born in 1887 and died in 1943.
Pearl STARR's other children were Ruth KAIGLER (1894-1979), a daughter of Charles KAIGLER, E. ERBACK (1898-1899), a son of Count ERBACH, and Jenette Steele ANDREWS (1902-1971), a daughter of Dell ANDREWS.
The third generation is as follows: Flossie Pearl EPPLE was the mother of Robert E. HUTTON (1908-1978). Ruth KAIGLERR was the mother of Veleska Myra WALT (born 1912). Veleska had no children. Jenette Steele ANDREWS was the mother of Delores VIGNOLO (born 1921). Delores also had no children.
The fourth generation: Robert E. HUTTON was the father of Flossie Mae HUTTON (born 1927).
The fifth generation: Flossie Mae HUTTON was the mother of Bette Lou WILEY (born 1947), Robert Lee WILEY (born 1948), and Frank William WILEY (born 1950).
The sixth generation: Bette Lou WILEY was the mother of Lauralee GOOD (born 1966), William R. GOOD (born 1969), and Jackson R. GOOD (born 1972). Frank William WILEY was the father of Rockie Lee WILEY (born 1972).
An interesting footnote to Belle STARR's life is that even though writers dubbed her "the Bandit Queen," she was actually only arrested three times - once for arson and twice for stealing horses!
STARR Tracks is available from the author, Phillip W. Steele (P.O. Box 191, Springdale, AR 72765) for the postage-paid price of $6.85. He has also published books on the JAMES brothers (covered previously in Rootbound) and the DALTONs. They're all jam-packed with historical drama and, of course, genealogy!
Until next week...happy hunting!