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Crime and Terrorism
Belle Starr



Belle Starr
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.3

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    livery, socialite, veneer, counterfeit, thievery, hailed, helping, countryside, bounty, wealthy, shotgun, reality, writing, fatal, posse, social
     content words:    American West, Belle Starr, Bandit Queen, Myra Maybelle Shirley, Carthage Female Academy, Civil War, Jim Reed, Tom Starr, Soon Jim, Sam Starr


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Belle Starr
By Mary Lynn Bushong
  

1     When you think of the American West, what do you think of - cowboys, cattle drives, wide open spaces? Perhaps you think of stage coaches, Indian attacks, and shoot outs with outlaws on the main streets of western towns. Most of those people and events have now passed into legend. One such legend was about Belle Starr the "Bandit Queen," but is the legend true?
 
2     Myra Maybelle Shirley was born near Carthage, Missouri on February 5, 1848. Her father was a successful farmer. In 1856, the family moved into Carthage where they established a series of businesses an inn, tavern, livery stable, and blacksmith shop. Altogether, they took up nearly a whole city block.
 
3     Maybelle attended the Carthage Female Academy where she not only learned math, reading, and writing, she also learned languages like Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Students also received musical training and social skills. Though she enjoyed school, she preferred to be outdoors riding over the countryside with her older brother Bud.
 
4     The Civil War soon brought an end to these good times. The Shirley family supported the South, and they were proud when Bud joined Quantrill's Raiders, a Confederate guerrilla group. Near the end of the war, her brother was killed, and her father decided to sell his businesses and move to Texas.
 
5     It was on their new 800 acres farm outside Dallas that Belle met an old family friend from Missouri and married him. Jim Reed and the James brothers had all been part of Quantrill's Raiders. The legend says that Reed and Belle were already running from the law and were married by another gang member, but that's not what their marriage certificate says.

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