On this date in 1899, at a watering point some 30 miles outside of Globe Arizona, A pair of gun totin’ outlaws robbed the stagecoach. It was kind of unusual in itself, as the crime of stagecoach robbing had long passed its zenith, and stage robberies had become rare, especially on this route, where the policy of having someone literally riding shotgun with the driver had long ago been discontinued. In fact, the stagecoach business itself was just about played out, indeed, this was the next-to-last stagecoach robbery on record. The robbers got away with four hundred bucks and change, took everyone’s guns, and left everyone with a single dollar. Strikes me as a nice gesture. But the most unusual thing about the robbery — the dramatis personae: Gunslinger Joe Boot, a name so obviously an alias it’s only presented for color, and, for the first and only time in history, a woman named Pearl Hart, did the stagecoach robbing. Pearl was a Midwest girl of good family with a wild streak that just got worse when she married Brett, Frank or William Hart, the records aren’t clear. She left him several times because he both beat her and bored her. The worst for them came when she caught Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show at the Chicago World’s Fair, and, far too late, headed west to find her fortune and goodbye to Brett, Frank or William. She alternately was a cook, a singer, a tent brothel keeper in a mining camp and finally turned to full on armed robbery and assorted other malfeasances. They caught her. Pearl went on trial for the stagecoach robbery, batted her eyes at the jury, they caved and gave her a not guilty. The Judge went on record decrying the verdict, but Pearl walked…but within weeks found herself back inside doing five years on a mail fraud conviction. By this time she was so famous, they built basically a cottage for her at the Yuma Territorial Prison, with a garden where she would meet with journalists and photographers. Rumor has it she was hustled out of prison a couple of years into her sentence, because no one could figure out a graceful explanation for her pregnancy. That’s rumor, remember. The records fall apart on Pearl after that, but some say she worked for the Buffalo Bill Wild West show for a while, and died sometime between 1955 and 1960 in Rural Arizona. Imagine being a kid in the early 50′s and asking great aunt Pearl for a story about when she was growing up.
Album Notes: Grateful Acknowledgments to Mike Koenig, and Drum 8. “Corncobs” Written and Performed by Kevin McLeod, Licensed under Creative Commons “Attribution 3.0″ http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ and used here by permission, and with appreciation and thanks.