two or three gotch-toothed tarts

(Myra May) Belle Starr was born near Carthage, Missouri in 1848. Legend would have us believe she was a romantic beautiful Bandit Queen but this source tells us otherwise

“She has been described as ‘bony and flat chested with a mean mouth; hatchet faced; gotch-toothed tart.’ In her later years, she was a companion to known thieves and felons, but it is doubtful she ever did more than steal horses and provide a haven for fugitives.

image found here

Belle’s first husband and father of her two children, John Reed, was shot escaping arrest for murder and robbery. Her second (or possibly third) husband was a handsome three quarter Cherokee Indian named Sam Starr, son of the outlaw Tom Starr.

Tom Starr

The Starrs were attending a friend’s Christmas party on December 17, when Sam encountered an old enemy whom he shot him dead, but not before being fatally wounded himself.  Belle then took up with an adopted son of old Tom Starr, 24-year-old Bill July (alias Jim Starr), a Creek Indian. July moved in with Belle, her daughter Pearl and her son Eddie; he was her last husband.

image of Pearl Starr found here

Shortly afterwards, Bill July Starr was arrested, indicted and released on bail for horse stealing. Then in July 1888, young Eddie was charged with horse theft, giving him something in common with his stepfathers.

Belle Starr was shot dead in February 1889 as she returned home from a party. The suspects were many and included a neighbour she had quarreled with, her husband who had a secret younger mistress, her daughter whom she had tricked into giving up her fiancé and her son whom she had disciplined with a bullwhip. No one was ever convicted.

A totally different Belle, but one who still had Indian associations, was Silver Belle.

Silver Belle was the ‘spirit guide’ of the American medium, Ethel Post-Parrish. In 1953, 81 people believed they witnessed ectoplasm materializing out of Ethel’s body in a smoky white cloud to form the shape of a beautiful woman.

“The ectoplasm will retract back into the medium’s body, however, not all of it will return; leaving the medium very exhausted. This is why Joshua did not leave the tent in Exodus 33:11. Joshua was the medium for Jehovah to materialize and “speak with Moses face to face.

I have no idea what ectoplasmic Belle had in common with Joshua, Jehovah or Moses, but it’s a direct quote from the website and is possibly helps to explain why Ethel has such bad posture in all her photographs….

Our third Belle was a serial killer born in 1859.

It is estimated that she killed more than 40 people over several decades. Belle Gunness married a Norwegian man in Chicago and soon after they opened a confectionery store. The business venture was not a success and within a year the store had burnt down in mysterious circumstances. Insurance money was paid and the money was used to purchase a home in Austin. This was destroyed, again by a mysterious fire, in 1898; the couple collected insurance money and purchased yet another home. Within two years her husband had died, on July 30th 1900, the only day that two life insurance policies on him overlapped. She applied for insurance money of $8,500 dollars on the day after his funeral.

She used the money to buy a farm in Indiana and moved there with the couple’s three daughters, one of whom was adopted. It was later established that Gunness and Sorenson had four offspring together, but that two had died in infancy; suffice to say that those two children were also insured and that it is now believed that they too were poisoned.

Belle then met a Norwegian named Peter Gunness who lived in her village (it was then that she acquired her famous surname) and they married on April 1st 1902. By this stage she was working a lot quicker, within a week of the ceremony Peter’s infant daughter had died whilst in the house alone with Belle. By the end of the same year Peter had a “tragic accident”, this time a sausage grinding machine had fallen from a high shelf onto his head, killing him instantly.

Belle’s bridgework found here

In 1906 her adopted daughter Jennie fell out of sight, Gunness told curious villagers that Jennie had been sent to a finishing school in Los Angeles. Jennie had in fact been killed and her body was later to be found on Belle’s farm. At the same time Gunness placed an ad in the matrimonial columns of all Chicago daily newspapers and those of other cities, she stated that she was a widow who desired to make the acquaintance of a gentleman with equal wealth to join fortunes. The result was a train of suitors, armed with wallets full of cash and deeds to their properties. Each would never be seen again, whilst Belle would deposit regular large sums of money into her bank account……. read more about how the bodies were discovered here

image found here

Published in: on December 12, 2009 at 7:48 am  Comments (34)  
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34 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. 3) do not ask for whom the belle tolls, she tolls for thee.
    2) if somebody called me hatchet-faced, i’d probably kill them too.
    1) i wonder if ectoplasm is insurable?

  2. Is ghoulie ectoplasm a euphemism?

  3. What a charming family tree.

    Horse thieves are especially lovable, when not suspended by the neck.

  4. I believe my own mother may well have been Belle #4. She was a streetfighter back in Roscommon, and came from a renowned fighting family back in the day.

    No man or woman took liberties with the mammy, and her name is still spoken of in the same Drumchapel scheme of which she passed away.

    Tough woman have good hearts, and even brighter souls than that of the norm.

  5. By the end of the same year Peter had a “tragic accident”, this time a sausage grinding machine had fallen from a high shelf onto his head, killing him instantly. If only it had hit him in the butt- instead of dying he would just have gotten a little behind in his work.

    I knew that someday there would be a meat grinding reference and when there was, I would be ready.

    Phil Complete

    • Ever Ready, that’s you

      • Now that I think about it, this only works if we have established that he works as a butcher, which we have not. I will try to pay more attention to detail in the future.

        Dee Taylor

  6. I wonder what Belle Starr had that got her so many men with that puss.

    And they say there are no true female serial killers.

  7. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Natural Born Killers; but I’ve always fancied having myself a belle….

    • I liked that movie. Great soundtrack too!

  8. I saw the words “sausage grinding machine” and I thought of a really hot woman. Then again, I read a lot of words and then think of a really hot woman.

  9. love the tales of the “Christmas Belles”…. but have to wonder if Belle Starr stole horses to try to learn their beauty secrets….


  10. Stuff as always fascinating, but where did you get it all! Also, you post all the time so seem to have an never ending supply! Keep it coming!

    • I read about Belle Starr in a book but the other two Belles I found on the net

  11. Love the way the romantic beauty was a’romantic beauty’ before the media hit home with ‘bony and flat chested with a mean mouth; hatchet faced; gotch-toothed tart.’

    the press was harsh then as it is now .. ah nothing changes apart from the whip of air brush lol 🙂

  12. Silver Belle obviously being the most famous since the made a christmas song after her.

  13. You need to write a book of this stuff, I would buy it, even without the gratuitous corsett shots

  14. Sounds like every horse thief in the West was a Belle ringer.

  15. mmmm…tarts…

  16. mmmmm….. chocolate peanut butter tarts…..

  17. Mysterious fires… the best kind.

    Right, so ‘Belle’, I’ll cross that name off the list of potential suitors then.

  18. I got into a debate with a few women where I hastened to point out that some of the biggest mass murders were women and this is yet another one to add to my list. I cited the Manson family women and some of the women who worked the concentration camps during WWII. Not a very nice woman.

  19. So much activity. I’m worn out thinking about it.

    • you’re worn out SE? I had lunch today with tetherdcow, ettamodern, queenwilly and The King. I am EXHAUSTED!

  20. This involved a LOT of research! And it gives me the creeps, by the way. But interestin it is. I always wonder where these people are in future life incarnations.

  21. I could be wrong about this. If there’s someone with a better grasp of criminal psychology reading, please correct me. But, I believe that Mrs. Gunness would be considered a “mass murderer” rather than a serial killer. Serial killers tend to take life by compulsion rather than for profit.

    • I think she qualifies as a serial killer…. check out this site which works through several definitions such as the extract below the link…

      “For example, in 1988 in Sacramento, California, several bodies of older or handicapped adults were exhumed from the backyard of a house where they were supposed to have been living. Investigators discovered the victims had been killed for their Social Security checks. It was apparent the killer had premeditated the murders, had selected the victims, and had killed at least six over a period of several months”

  22. Killers, thieves, mean spirited women?
    Oh Yes.
    But man oh man…they were something else.

  23. What would Freud have to say about a female murdering her husband by the injudicious use of their sausage grinding machine ?

    And why no reply to Nessa’s beautifully and carefully phrased question ?

    “I wonder what Belle Starr had that got her so many men with that puss…”

  24. […] Nurse Myra sent this clip to me. […]

  25. So this is the whole tale from Starr to finish?

  26. Hmm… ..I wonder if a couple of policies overlapped the night Elin tried to “rescue” Tiger with a freakin’ nine iron?
    I wonder if she’d like to go full Lorena Bobbitt on him with that meat grinder? Ya think?

    • Don’t give her any more ideas Donn…..

  27. I am their Great Great Great Great Granddaughter 🙂 (Belle and Sam Starr)

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