Tag Archives: Murder

Belle Starr - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee

Flash Briefing: Belle Starr

Join host Kari Bovee, award-winning author of historical fiction as she shares stories of strong women of history combined with mysteries of the past.

>> Listen to Flash briefing HERE. <<

Born in Missouri in 1848 Belle Starr would become one of the most notorious outlaws in American History.

After the civil war, Belle’s family moved to Scyene, Texas where they became associated with known criminals, including Jesse James and the Younger brothers. Belle married a man named Jim Reed in 1866. Two years later, they had a daughter who they named Pearl. Reed, too, became involved in crime and was soon wanted for murder in Arkansas. The family fled to California where their second child, Eddie was born.

In 1871 the Reed’s returned to Texas and settled in the town of Paris. Reed tried his hand at Belle Starr - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Boveefarming, but to no avail. He soon fell in with the Starr Clan, a Cherokee Indian family known for many crimes, but primarily horse theft. The Reeds also became reacquainted with Belle’s old family friends, members of the Jesse James gang and the Younger brothers gang.

In the Spring of 1874, Belle was arrested for a stagecoach robbery she allegedly committed with her husband and one of the gangs. Belle always had a keen sense of style and would often be seen riding with the gangs sidesaddle and perfectly attired in a black velvet riding habit, plumed hat, and carrying two pistols.

In the summer of 1874, Reed was killed. Belle then married one of the Starr brothers, Sam, and they settled in Oklahoma. Belle assisted her husband in criminal activities such as bootlegging, horse thievery, and harboring criminals from the law. In 1883, Belle and Sam were arrested for their crimes. Belle was found guilty and served nine months in Detroit, Michigan. Sam, too, was found guilty and assigned to hard labor.

Three years later, Sam was killed in a gunfight with lawman Frank West. It was said the relationship with Sam Starr was the happiest of Belle’s life, and with the death of her husband, her life of crime ended. But shortly thereafter, she died under mysterious circumstances.

While riding home from a friend’s house Belle was shot in the back. She fell off her horse, Belle Starr - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Boveeand was shot again, this time in the shoulder and the face. Legend has it, her own shotgun was used to do the deed.

According to Frank Eaton, also known as “Pistol Pete”, she had attended a dance on the fateful night. She danced with Frank and then a very drunk Edgar Watson asked her to dance. She refused him and left. Watson followed her and shot her. Eaton claims Watson was tried, convicted and hung for the murder.

However, another story circulated that there were no witnesses and no one was ever convicted of Belle’s murder. Suspects included her husband after Sam, another member of the Starr clan, her son, whom she had beaten for mistreating her horse, and Edgar Watson because he feared she would turn him in for a murder he committed in Florida.

The crime of how and why Starr was murdered has gone down in history as unsolved.

Dora Hand - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee

Flash Briefing: Dora Hand

Join host Kari Bovee, award-winning author of historical fiction as she shares stories of strong women of history combined with mysteries of the past.

>> Listen to Flash briefing HERE. <<

What woman could inspire four of Dodge City’s legendary lawmen to come together to find a killer? A beautiful songbird named Dora Hand.

Born between 1840 and 1844, Dora Hand came from a prominent Boston family. She is said to have studied music in Europe and had once performed opera in New York City. She married a musician named Ted Hand, but the relationship did not last.

Suffering from tuberculosis, Dora moved west for the dry air. She settled in Dodge City, Kansas, and the town was instantly smitten. Described as beautiful and gifted, legend has it that attentions for her favor caused more gunfights than any other woman in the west.

One of her most ardent admirers was James Kelley, also known as Dog Kelley, the mayor ofDora Hand - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee Dodge and part-owner of the Alhambra Saloon and Gambling House. Dora sang every night at the Alhambra, and also sang at the Lady Gay Dance Hall and Saloon. She earned upwards of $75 per week.

Sweet natured and generous, Dora gave much back to the community through charity and good works. But, despite her benevolence, she still encountered her fair share of jealous and ill-meaning followers. Some thought her an angel, and others thought her a whore.

A Reverend Mr. Wright, a local pastor, both confounded and delighted his flock when he invited Dora to sing weekly at his Sunday evening services. Like her or not, every Sunday night the church was packed to hear the lovely Dora sing.

One of Dora’s admirers was Spike Kennedy, the son of a wealthy Texas cattle rancher. Spoiled and not adhering to his father’s Quaker sensibilities, or his mother’s Catholic devotion, Spike was, in short, a hell-raiser who loved drinking, gambling and whoring, and who felt he was above the law because of Daddy’s money—which, ultimately he was.

One night, after much drinking at the AlhamDora Hand - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Boveebra, Spike turned his attention to Dora. Dog Kelley threw him out on his ear. Humiliated, Spike would have his revenge. On an early October morning, Spike fired two shots into the thin walls of Kelley’s cabin. Little did he know, the mayor had gone to nearby Fort Dodge to visit a doctor for a stomach ailment. Sleeping in a bed in the back room of the cabin, was Dora. The second bullet zinged through the door, then the interior wall, and hit Dora in the side, killing her instantly.

Dodge’s renown lawmen, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Charlie Bassett and Bill Tilghman set out to find Spike. They did, but he didn’t hang. His father somehow bought him an acquittal, and the court cited “lack of evidence.”

Dora’s funeral drew one of the biggest turnouts Dodge City had ever seen. It was said the town shut down for her funeral and 400 men rode behind the wagon carrying Dora’s body up Boot Hill for burial.

If you love tales of the old west, you might enjoy my Annie Oakley Mystery Series. You  can find the books on Amazon.

Award winning historical fiction book by Kari Bovée

Review of the Week – 12/11/2019

Jim Says:

HIstorical Fiction Books sleuth award winning kari bovee“A great light and fun read that will take you to the old West’s most noteworthy wild west show and meet its most famous historical figures. A whodunit mystery, Girl with a Gun doubles as historical fiction – the word fiction is emphasized. Not everything that happens in Kari Bovée’s debut novel actually happened as Annie Mosey from Ohio transitioned to “Little Miss Sure Shot” in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Readers looking for a factual account should peruse the non-fiction and biography shelves.

For those who simply want to be entertained, and get a sense of life in 1885, then stand by for a good time as bodies keep dropping, a horse gets poisoned, and attempts are made on Annie Oakley’s life. Of the three major themes in mysteries, the reader will find them all in Girl with a Gun. There are multiple instances of characters seeking revenge; characters doing bad things while they attempt to obtain something that does not belong to them; and characters wanting to stop something that is happening that they do not like. Enough intertwining of facts with fiction, of plot weaving, and characters not being all they appear to make even Agatha Christi blush.

Author Kari Bovée manages to introduce some very important, and unexpected, serious themes into Girl with a Gun. We are faced right away with the choices available to women in 1885 – marriage, the whorehouse, or an uncertain life alone. Indeed, woman’s place in society is a major refrain as Annie doesn’t even get to choose her new name when she enters the show. Abuse of women and strong prejudices against Indians illuminate the dark underside of 1885 American society.

The strong bond between horse and human is today less understood by modern society but figures as a strong motivator in the plot. And like today, everyone has secrets – some of those matter to the outcome of the mystery and others are complications and red herrings tantalizingly introduced throughout the pages in excellent fashion.

Girl with a Gun will give the reader an inside view of the historic wild west show. We see jealousies, manipulation, rivalries, and choices to be made when the main attractions in the show come to understand they are just employees under the thumb of the owner. The reader learns quite a bit about horsemanship, shooting, showmanship, costumes and dress. Regardless of how the author adjusts the real world to tell her story, the life and times of Annie Oakley are vividly brought to life in a way that cannot be replicated by histories. Annie is depicted as a woman ahead of her times – brave, adventurous, willing to shoulder responsibility, and full of life. She is loyal to a fault. Readers will have no problem identifying with Annie and recognizing that her decisions, like their own, are sometimes made for all the wrong reasons. Supporting characters in the story are larger than life as are the real-world figures they represent.

Girl with a Gun is a major prize winner that bears your investigation. The book is very readable with a nice pace and short chapters. The major events of the story take place during April 1885 with the denouement occurring a few months later. There are some great lines worth remembering such as: “And as far as being friendly goes, I’m friendly, all right – just ask the boys.” Read the book. You will not be disappointed. Just ask the boys.”

Buy on Amazon

Girl with a Gun (An Annie Oakley Mystery #1)